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The Congleton Range Rover Classic Shows the Future of the Collectible SUV

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2018

If you're interested in old SUVs, as I am, you probably already know about the ridiculous rise in value of the North American Specification (NAS) Land Rover Defender, which was sold here in the mid-1990s. You probably also know this rise in value has left behind basically every other Land Rover product, any of which you can usually find rotting away on Craigslist for a couple grand. Well, that's starting to change: The original Range Rover (sold here from the late 1980s through 1995) is starting to earn its day in the sun, and I have proof.

The proof comes from Congleton Service, a shop in Vermont that's becoming increasingly well known as having the go-to experts on the Range Rover Classic. I've heard of many people sending Range Rover Classics to Congleton in order to sort out their numerous faults, bypassing many Land Rover dealerships and independent mechanics along the way.

Well, Congleton has taken that expertise and turned it into what has to be basically the first full restoration of a Range Rover Classic yet: Congleton calls it the Congleton Certified #001, and it's a 1994 Range Rover with basically every single part replaced, or refinished, or polished, or beautified, to the point where this thing looks exactly as it did when it drove off the production line nearly 25 years ago. According to Congleton, "All 7,400 components are fully disassembled before the restoration and modification can begin, and the finished product is as new."

Actually, it's better than new -- because Congleton offers a dramatic engine upgrade, too. According to Congleton, its restored Range Rover Classic models can be fitted with a 5.0-liter V8 that basically doubles the horsepower of the original and cuts the 0-to-60 time in half. The new engine is also based on an existing Land Rover V8, meaning you still have some originality. As Congleton says, "While a pre-made Chevrolet crate engine is simple to install and more affordable, Congleton does not offer that as an option." Humph.

The main reason I'm highlighting this is to continue proving a point I made back in the fall of 2015: that old SUVs are really starting to shoot up in value and interest. Here we have an expert shop devoted to a previously unloved vehicle, restoring one to such a high standard that it's probably selling for the kind of money you'd spend on a brand-new Land Rover. But the person who buys this (and I suspect there will be a buyer for this one, and any other one of these Congleton makes) doesn't want a new Land Rover. They want a cool old Range Rover Classic. And now they can buy the nicest one in existence.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Congleton Range Rover Classic Shows the Future of the Collectible SUV - Autotrader