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Michael Nicholson of ITN News embarked on the epic five-month journey with his family back in 1981 and chronicled his incredible journey in a book, Across the Limpopo. In addition, the Range Rover was first-owned by ex-Formula One and Le Mans-winning racing driver Duncan Hamilton who specified its Lincoln Green colour with a Palomino interior.
A full leather interior and a Webasto sunroof were also fitted as extras by Nicholson who originally bought the car back in 1976. After four years of daily use in South Africa, Nicholson was due to head back to England but couldn’t face the thought of simply waking up in the UK the next day. Instead of the 16-hour flight, he packed his family and their belongings into his Range Rover and set off for home.
From South Africa, Nicholson embarked on his epic journey through Zambia to the Nyika Plateau of Malawi, Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conversation Area and the Dar es Salaam. Nicholson’s unstoppable Range Rover then crossed the Serengetti to Kenya, before its final route through Egypt, Sudan, Greece and the rest of Europe to the UK, where the car was dry stored for many years.
Why do classic Range Rovers remain so popular?
The two-door Range Rover was the perfect choice of car in the seventies for a family camping trip or a spot of off-roading, whilst it maintained its elegancy within the confinements of a city. As such, the original two-door Range Rover has emerged as the classic car of the moment, with good condition vehicles fetching more than the latest factory fresh models.
In 1970, nothing else on the road combined 100mph V8 performance with the ability to cross a ploughed field at high speed, in comfort. In fact, during the 1970s, the Range Rover was the most sought-after cars in the world, favoured not just by gentleman farmers but also by police and international adventurers.
They were so in demand that wealthy buyers would put in multiple orders for the car then sell it on well above the list price on the black market, according to BBC One news programme Nationwide in the mid-seventies.
Although the Range Rover marked the start of the ‘Chelsea Tractor’ era, its image in the seventies was worlds apart from the up-market, stylish look of today’s well-to-do mum whisking her kids to school surrounded by all the latest mod-cons.
Nevertheless, the Seventies Range Rover remains a brilliant example of the less-is-more philosophy, demonstrating elegant, functional lines, quiet colours and a simple cabin that lends itself to being washed down, and is stripped of any electronics.
Due to the hot demand for the four-door Range Rover when it hit the market in the mid-eighties, the two -door vehicle quickly went out of fashion which explains why there are very few vehicles left in such mint condition.
The 1973 Range Rover on sale now is one exception having received a £25,000 body-off-chassis rebuild. It is thought the car will sell to a serious collector, and unlike today’s SUV, which has a tendency to frustrate the average driver, the old model can’t help but make people smile.
JD Classics Managing Director, Derek Hood, said: “The classic Range Rover market is hugely popular at the moment, and this is a wonderful opportunity to own a very special part of it. From its Le Mans-winning racing owner to its incredible journey through Africa – chronicled in a book and many photographs accompanying the car – this Range Rover has perfect provenance. Add to that the recent impeccable restoration, and it’s easy to see why this Range Rover is perhaps the most desirable on the market today.”