Regular readers of Grumpy's site will know that he drives a Land Rover Discovery 2. He doesn't consider this car particularly old, certainly not as ancient as he feels on a cold wet morning. He knows by modern standards, the car is certainly not young, having been first registered in 2002. Unlike years ago, Grumpy no longer does a lot of driving consequently the engine has only done 75,000 miles. And he reckons this mileage is genuine.
Living close to the Atlantic ocean, the atmosphere in which the car "lives" is fairly salty, particularly when the gales come in, blowing straight off the ocean, up the road and past Grumpy's house. Yes, lovely in the summer, but it ain't 'arf draughty in the winter!
This sterling British workhorse (the company may have been owned by the Germans, the Americans and now the Indians. But, let's face it, at the end of the day the Land Rover is still and always will be an iconic piece of real British motor engineering of which we should all be rightly proud.) The car has just undergone its' annual medical. (NCT here in Ireland or MOT in the UK) That may be a pain in the proverbial, but at least it does make sure the car is ticketyboo for another year and on that basis Grumpy is always pleased to get it checked over. Having said that, this year was something of a financial nightmare particularly with the bottom falling out of the pound due to the Brexit vote.
As usual, I decided to do as much of the work as I could myself. Frankly I don't have a lot of faith in the average garage, but more of that later. I'm quite prepared to put up with the odd bruised and grazed knuckle just to know that the job has been done. The reason for this particular grump is availability of spare parts for a car that was little more than 14 years old! Do bear in mind that with these annual roadworthiness checks, in Ireland you have 28 days to complete the repairs and resubmit the car to verify the work has been done. With this in mind, locating the parts required, turned out to be a nightmare. My normal supplier told me that he could place a special order with Land Rover but he wasn't sure how long it would take for them to arrive with him. Even if he could, the cost was absolutely eye watering. The three parts needed were window frames for the doors. Due to the design of these parts, paint tended to rub away in a particular area and this let the sea air in; consequently they corroded. Searching the Internet showed that none were available in the UK or Ireland from the usual Land Rover spares suppliers. A couple of breakers yards claimed to have some, but when I asked about the quality, they came back and said "oh, they are not very good, they really are quite rusty so we can't really sell them to you". Having been told that; I looked at the Land Rover "fan club" forum and was not surprised to find that this was a well-known problem on the Disco Two.
At this point I was beginning to despair and eventually looked on eBay. Imagine my surprise when I found one of the three in Norwich for less than a third the price that Land Rover wanted. One down, two to go.
The final two were located in one place but Gordon Bennett, they were in Florida. There was a backup, should it be required, but that was even further away in Salt Lake City. I was absolutely astounded that I'd had to go to the States to find what I wanted. Luckily with two in one place, shipping, although expensive when looked at on a per part basis, came in significantly cheaper than having them specially made by Land Rover and that was even after adding on the import duty!
What really got me hopping mad about this nonsensical situation was that here, in the British Isles, the spares parts seem to be like rocking horse fertiliser. To find the them as far away as the United States, Gordon Bennett these are spare parts for a British institution. The car only went out of direct support a couple of years ago, so what happened to the jigs? At the end of the day these damn things were little more than four pieces of channelling, with a couple of bends in them and a bit of rubber gasketting. Why do Land Rover charge so much for sticking a "Land Rover " label on them and secondly, if it's a well-known and common fault, why hasn't an "after manufacture support" operation purchased the jigs? Gordon Bennett what has gone wrong with the world, is it totally and utterly bonkers!?
I would be very curious if other owners of not so modern cars have similar problems? If you do drop me an email.