VW Vortex - Volkswagen Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Premium Member
Vermonter ~ '20 Si Sedan – '94 Miata – '16 RAV4
Joined
·
36,894 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I received a fabulous gift certificate from my wife for Christmas this year, 3 hours of instruction and trail ride at the Land Rover Off road Driving School in Manchester, VT.
I'd been waiting until decent weather to go and this Sunday was it.
My wife and buddy Jack road along, we were met by my instructor, Greg Nicholas who walked us around the 2002 Discovery that we'd be driving. They keep their trucks stock except for a small winch bumper carrying a Warn9000. Stock suspension, stock tires... I was surprised. They only keep their vehicles for 5k miles, and then they get sold to dealerships as demos. Despite their hard use, they are quite sought after since they are impeccably maintained and all the lovely 4x4 bits get a regular workout.
We started out with Greg driving through the terrain of the school's private 4x4 playground. He explained about approach, breakover, and departure angles, demonstrated proper left-foot breaking, and showed how the various electronic traction controls and hill decent control works. The motto was "Slow as possible, Fast as necessary."
I think it is too bad that the Discovery has such a Soccer-mom rep because these trucks are ridiculously capable off road. They have a course set up with huge woopdeedoos, deep holes and off setting hills that put us in teeter-totter positions with the pass-side front and drivers-side rear wheels hanging in mid air with the other wheels on top of hills.
There were also off camber side hills that have you staring straight down at the ground. Despite being a tall, narrow vehicle, the Discovery carries 80% of its weight below the midline of the door. This allows for a safe, but panty-twisting 30+ degrees of side-hill travel. Yikes!
My wife said that this was the only time she was actually scared.
Then we went on to some hill-climbs. These really let the traction control shine… staying steady on the throttle and letting the truck just pull you up an over. Amazing!
Hill decent control is freaky. You put the truck into 4Low, and first gear, push the button, use some left foot breaking to ease over the crest, then take your feet off the pedals…. All you see is sky.. sky.. sky… then finally you are pointed 45° down the hill and weeeeeeeee….
The traction control uses the ABS and gearing to give you a slow, steady decent that is free of skidding and let's you steer the whole way. It's actually a bit faster then you initially feel comfortable with, but once you learn to trust the system, it is amazingly efficient.
We talked a lot about the advantages of the newer traction controls (99.5+ Discos) over the older Discos with locking center differential. He feels it is 6 of 1, half dozen of the other. Both do their jobs, and both will have scenarios where they will work better or worse then the other. He actually prefers the older, Series 1 Discos(94-98.5) for their mechanical simplicity, tidier dimensions, and larger aftermarket.
For our trail ride we headed to a local mountain trail to tackle a rockslide. This was a steep trail with many rock ledges along the way. Pinpoint tire placement and steady momentum would be necessary to avoid using the ledges in front as wheel chocks, and stopping our accent. Due to the narrowness of the trail, sidestepping the back end could also get us good and wedged in. Greg spotted me up, but 1 big bump caused me to back off the throttle and we were stuck. Lot's of slight back and forth didn't help and we had to winch over the biggest ledge. I wish I'd made it, but it was cool to learn how to properly use a winch.
Overall, it was a great afternoon. It showed me what a properly driven vehicle can do, even when stock. It gave me solid knowledge that I can use when I get my own 4x4, whatever it may be, and I gained even more respect for the British marquee that so vexes me.

I have about 40 minutes of video as a keepsake and a roll of film. I'll post some pictures when I get them developed. I'm off to cruise the eBay Land Rover pages.

A few other random LR notes from Greg…
• The Freelander is a hoot to drive ON-road, liek a rally car, but can't handle the sort of heavy terrain that the Discovery and Range Rover does. He says you'd be surprised by where you CAN get it though.
• He just got back from CA and driving the new Range Rover and it is amazing. They are doing a big launch of it at the school and I'm hoping to get invited.
• His personal vehicles? Two Jeep Wranglers, based on cost and ability, nothing comes close. He's actually looking for a Series 1 Disco now that his newest Jeep is paid off.
• He started offroading in the Army, and has been doing it ever since. Teaching and guiding at the School is his full-time job. I meant to ask him how to get a gig like that but never did.
• He said most people are nice, but they get some real stinkers at the school too. He hates it when people don't listen and he even had one guy call him "Khaki-boy" once. He seemed happy to be out with just some "regular" folks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,885 Posts
Re: My afternoon at the Land Rover Driving School (Sporin)

Sounds like a blast

LRs are extremely capable, and I've always highly respected them, even after the soccer mom set adopted them. I cant bring myself to like the Freelander though.
J.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
25,105 Posts
Re: My afternoon at the Land Rover Driving School (Zinhead)

That awesome. Its on my list with tim oneils rally school http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,327 Posts
Re: My afternoon at the Land Rover Driving School (Sporin)

Coolest wife ever. http://****************.com/smile/emthup.gif
You on the other hand, suck.
Posting this and making us ruin our keyboads with drool. For shame.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
748 Posts
Re: My afternoon at the Land Rover Driving School (Passater)

WOw! Sounds like a blast. I've always wanted to do a class at the school, but I'm waiting for them to do some more advanced topics or more intensive trail rides. I can't justify shelling out the dough to relearn the basics. Keep searching for the Disco I, they're a great buy if you can find a well maintained one. Buy the disco! We need to start edging out the soccer mom folks.... not bloody likely though....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
962 Posts
Re: My afternoon at the Land Rover Driving School (Passater)

quote:[HR][/HR]You on the other hand, suck.
Posting this and making us ruin our keyboads with drool. For shame.
[HR][/HR]​
I [email protected] You bastid!!!

I have many fond memories of driving my Dad's 196?-ish LWB diesel pickup Land Rover (109 inch wheel base, 2 doors, long bed, removable pickup cab) all over the abandoned jeep trails and double track of the rural southern Missouri woods where we lived (they have 80 acres adjoining the Mark Twain Nat'l Forest). The diesel was a great engine for a 4WD - all low end torque and rpm governed - not 'power' governed like a gas engine. This meant it would hold a consistent rpm up and over obstacles - and the diesel engine could easily push over obstacles at idle - no revs needed. In low range first gear it would barely be moving - maybe 6 or 7 mph with the engine humming. The diesel engine was impervious to water - we moved the air cleaner (cool oil bath thing - no replacable element - just keep full of used motor oil) back to the firewall and added a snorkel. Then it could go through ~4 feet of water. Hopelessly out of its element on the road, however. In 4th the engine would rev pretty high and it could actually get up to 60 mph on level ground, but it wasn't comfortable doing it. Great truck - you just had to tinker with the electric (curse Lucas) and hydraulic (curse Girling) components frequently to keep things going. The machanical parts, however, were indestructable.
I've been eying 10+ year old Range Rovers lately. They have really dropped in value as the electric gizmos and leather interiors have fried. I'm thinking you could make a great off roader by getting an old one for around $3k, then stripping out the carpeting, electric windows, A/C, etc and reupholstering in heavy vinyl, repainting it with one of those early chalky L/R colors. Then raise it slightly with good shocks and longer travel springs, put slightly larger tires on it, and use it until the auto tranny fries, replacing that with a 5 speed sourced from GB.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top