This 1971 Range Rover Drop-Top Conversion Is Your New Cape Cod Cruiser
As preppy as yachting to the sounds of Vampire Weekend.
Planning on commissioning an over-restored restomod Land Rover Defender, Ford Bronco, or FJ40 soft-top? How creative. Take our word for it (with the Jeep Wrangler's production lines at full capacity and the new Bronco approaching at terminal velocity), your six-figure candy-painted agrarian box won't stand out from the square-sided 4x4 drop-top crowd, not to mention the thousands of LS-swapped beach blitzers already crawling over sandy locales such as Malibu and Miami like ants on a spilled puddle of mango-flavored White Claw.
Think outside the box, please. For optimal drop-top four-wheel-drive fun, we suggest dusting off the bidding paddles for the 1971 Range Rover "Suffix A" Convertible crossing the block at RM Sotheby's upcoming Arizona sale later this month. We can already hear keen marque enthusiasts drafting letters on the back of one of their weekly grease-stained service receipts. This isn't a factory soft-top Range but is instead an in-period conversion done by Specialty Vehicle Conversions (SVC) of the charmingly named Uckfield, United Kingdom.
If you're on the hunt for a real-deal soft-top variant of the original Range Rover Classic, we have to be the bearer of bad news—they don't exist. Unlike the O.G. Land Rover and the aforementioned Defender, the techs down at the old Solihull production facility left the Sawzalls on the workbench throughout the original Range Rover's 27-year production run. So, if you see a handsome soft-sided Range of this vintage chugging along the Pacific Coast Highway or the tight byways of Cape Cod, it's an aftermarket conversion, just like this one.
When this Lincoln Green Range was scalped isn't clear, but SVC chop-jobs are well-known for their quality and desirability among Range Rover enthusiasts. What the £5,000 (unadjusted for inflation) conversion bought was the SUV's removed rear sheet metal, interior-matching "Everflex" tan roof, vinyl portholes, B-pillar crossbeam, and rigid removable panel above the front seats for safety and noise reduction.
Everything else is the same classic Range Rover that continues to capture hearts (and wallets) the world over. While we're not so delusional as to say that driving this period-correct luxury 4x4 is a smooth, cosseting experience on-par with modern Rovers, this leather-lined boat should be significantly easier to putt-around town in than a restomod with oversized wheels, a hyper-short wheelbase, and too-powerful engine. Er, emphasis on that last bit. The most the Rover 3.5-liter V-8 could muster was 135 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, so get your ankle warmed-up for excessive clutch-pressing duty.
If all this sounds like the perfect fair-or-foul weather aire libre 4x4 companion, head over to RM Sotheby's to register as a bidder before the auction starts later this week.