A better class of Monster

The August 1962 hit “Monster Mash” tied into the “Mashed Potato” dance craze of the time. However, due to its enduring Halloween popularity, “Monster Mash” was back in the top 100, nearly 60 years after it first charted.

In 2020 I bought a 1995 V8 petrol four-wheel-drive, returning to a Land Rover Discovery model that had been dismissed as The Monster by the family, in diesel form, just a few years earlier.

It was the same colour, but with better body and paint, one year older, and had 2 fewer doors. It also had the Land Rover V8, which began its life as a Buick engine. I’d missed the loping nature of the V8 beast, after selling my Range Rover as the pandemic began to bite. So, when a cared-for 3-door Epsom Green Discovery 1 came up locally, I was under its spell.

Like so many older vehicles, it needed a lot of fettling once it was home on the unregistered permit. I visited a local Land Rover wrecker to buy 2 horns for it (those in the truck weren’t working).

The wrecker remarked on how rare it now was to see a 3-door Disco, and how interest in them was rising, while observing (through gritted teeth) that he’d sent plenty to the crusher in previous years, as nobody was interested in them.

The Discovery shared its chassis and four-wheel-drive system with the older Range Rover. At launch in 1989, the 3-door was offered to keep prices down. The 5-door model was offered the following year.

Cosmetically, the Disco was in very good condition, thanks to a previous respray for some reason, and comfortable to drive (although not as comfortable as the airbag suspension Rangie).

It had great air-conditioning and a recent radiator replacement, which gave me some peace of mind about the V8’s notorious coolant issues and head gasket or cylinder problems.

To access the rear bench, you folded the front seats forward with an easy-to-use tilt handle, but it was still an acrobatic skill to get in the back. The rear seats folded forward for load carrying, leaving the seat belts in a heap on the floor.

I had plans to take the Disco off-road, as I had done with my previous Land Rovers, so I had a specialist garage fix the diff lock, which wasn’t engaging. That was just the start of the renewal, with the rubber coupling, bushes and gaskets changed, plus a new headlining for the roof, as the usual collapse had begun.

After around $4,000 in repairs, the Disco was looking good for some off-road camping adventures with my dad. However, that’s around the time he became ill with cancer.

His own tricked-up Toyota Land Cruiser lay dormant, so the chances of me taking my truck anywhere were low. Of course, I could take off whenever I liked, but travelling with my dad was a treat, because he had everything we needed in his truck: a winch, fridge, and a shed’s worth of tools. Plus, he was a whiz at getting a camping area set up, having travelled the Canning Stock Route multiple times.

At the end of 2021, he was rarely out of bed. In February 2022 he passed away. I sold his Land Cruiser for a tidy sum for mum in a COVID market, then set about getting my Land Rover up for sale.

I knew that going to the trouble of getting a roadworthy would mean a higher sale price, so I started on a long list of maintenance items, starting with an exhaust leak.

However, the exhaust shop (rightly) pointed out that there was a slight fuel leak from one of the injectors, so they couldn’t fix the exhaust leak at the flange and risk a spark igniting. I took the truck to a workshop for whatever would fix that and get me my roadworthy.

After $3,000 in work for injector rings, brakes and more gaskets, the roadworthy was issued. I had plenty of interest in the truck, but not at the price I wanted. So I waited.

I’d booked a service with the specialist 3 months earlier (there’s always a waiting list). I kept the appointment and had some basic items done. A prospective buyer used the truck’s time in the workshop to get a purchase inspection done. It came back “not perfect, but good for its age”.

So, after another $1,000 in costs, that purchase went ahead. The new owner was quite taken by the 3-door style, and has multiple Land Rovers.

Just like “Monster Mash”, my 27-year-old 3-door Discovery “caught on in a flash” a few decades after its launch.

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