The 1973 Range Rover that went rogue

The 1973 Range Rover that went rogue

Wood & Pickett special put out to pasture after being used in £2m aristocrat theft

This 1973 Range Rover, which may well be the first example converted to a luxurious custom specification by coachbuilder Wood & Pickett, has emerged after more than ten years off the road. For most of that time, it was stored in an outbuilding on a country estate in Berkshire. The vehicle was ordered by a wealthy family who used it for many years on shoots and general duties on the estate and on another property in southern Republic of Ireland, but in 2012 the Range Rover was taken by a member of staff at the estate who escaped with £1.9m of the family’s jewellery and artworks, before eventually being arrested in France.

Understandably, the unusual Range Rover held unpleasant associations for the owners from then on, and was consigned to storage. They eventually agreed to dispose of it to Land Rover specialist Williams Classics in Abergele, North Wales, which was able to research its origins. Miles Williams explain, ‘When I went to buy the vehicle, Nick Dimbleby came with me. Nick has written various Range Rover books with subjects including the Wood & Pickett conversions, and he verified its authenticity. It was ordered new from Land Rover through Carawagon, which produced the camping versions of Land Rovers and Range Rovers. Either it could spare the car – it had allocated orders and a supply agreement – and sold it on to Wood & Pickett, or the company was used as a screen to keep the final destination of the car a secret from Land Rover, which might not have approved of what Wood & Pickett was doing.’

What the coachbuilder was doing was essentially whatLand Rover itself did much later on: adding features that turned the Range Rover from an agricultural workhorse into a luxury SUV. On this car they include a bank of extra dials on the left of the dash, full leather upholstery with a cubby-box armrest, electric windows, air conditioning, a dog guard, a gun rack, a hidden Fairey winch behind that distinctive nose, GRP wheel arches, decals and a Wood & Pickett roof rack.

‘It’s structurally good but needs recommissioning,’ says Miles. ‘We haven’t tried to get it running yet, but we have got back the original registration, which has WPC in it – Wood & Pickett Company? I had hoped to get it back on the road and keep it, but with too many other interesting projects to do, I thought someone else should take it on.’

Wood & Pickett roof rack just one of many quirks. Slanted, slatted nose conceals a Fairey winch. Worth investment even if standard – more so in this form.

Extra gauges point at driver. Dog guard & gun rack in one. Patinated but complete — in use until 2012.

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