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The Manual Land Rover Discovery: Yes, They Exist

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author photo by Will Kinton March 2018

Did you know that you could buy a manual Land Rover Discovery in the U.S. during the SUV's first generation? Most people don't realize that a manual was ever an option since it was dropped for the second generation -- and since manual transmissions have become almost nonexistent in SUVs, outside of a few base-level trims and the Jeep Wrangler. In fact, the first-generation Discovery was the last Land Rover you could buy in the U.S. with a stick, beating out the Defender by two model years. I probably wouldn't have known it was possible if it wasn't for the fact that my uncle actually has one.

He bought his Discovery new back in 1996, and he still has it today. He managed to find a top-trim SE7 on the lot with the cool rear jump seats and sunroofs and a manual transmission, even though they were pretty rare. After more than 160,000 miles, it remains in pretty great condition, as he's meticulously taken care of it regardless of the expense -- which has surely been great. It remains the primary hauler of his family and their things, and it will likely stay in that role until it becomes physically impossible to keep it on the road. He's given me right of first refusal when it does come time to sell it -- but I wouldn't be surprised if it has 300,000 miles by that time

Unfortunately, a manual Land Rover Discovery is rarer now than it was back then. There aren't any for sale on Autotrader right now across the entire country, and the only one I've ever seen for sale was on the Hemmings classic car marketplace -- and even that was in poor condition. There's very little information out there, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there are only a few hundred left in existence across the country -- and probably half are in a driveable condition.

Older SUVs are a hot trend in car collecting, with classic Toyota FJ40s, Ford Broncos, Jeep Grand Wagoneers and even Range Rovers appreciating in value. The Discovery could be at the forefront of the next wave of classics, especially considering the unique design, the off-road prowess and the rapidly depleting stock of vehicles. Collector-worthy Discos are difficult to find among the multitude of beaters, but the prices have only just begun to rise. Those rare manual Discovery models will surely prove more valuable in the long run, provided they were taken care of properly. I just hope there are some left in the country to become a collector's item by the time the market catches up.

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Used 1994 Nissan 300ZX GS
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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 Manual Land Rover Discovery: Yes, They Exist - Autotrader