Unverified Ownership Say Hippo Again, I Dare You - 2002 Land Rover Freelander Td4 3-door

Matt2000

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I double-dare you, monkeyfarmer.

Yes, it's happened again. My fascination with older Land Rover products knows no bounds, not even common sense. After many years of mocking the Freelander when it came out, I was overcome with the urge to buy a shitter. Truth be told, I think I might've failed and I might've got deceased-spec instead.

So why am I back to three cars again? Well I got the Miata in October and after a very short time it became British winter, which means a lot of rain, mud and road salt. As much as I've tried to only drive the Miata on dry days when it hasn't been cold (so the salt has washed away), it turns out that trying to do that with a car that's essentially your daily drive is really bloody difficult. I wanted something that would take a bit of winter abuse. Bugsy filled this role in the pre-Tesla days, however I'm not prepared to jump back in to a world of failing air suspension, hydraulics and leaky sunroofs. Which is why I didn't buy an old Range Rover, along with the need for this to be cheap.

The Freelander seemed like the ideal choice, still giving me the ability to do some light green laning in the summer but able to drive distances and with much less to go wrong. Ignoring all of that, the hippo-faced Freelander has been growing on me like a wart for years now, especially the 3-door model with the removable roof. With my dad getting a Freelander 2 a few years ago the idea of having an earlier car has tempted me, it just wasn't possible or necessary when I had the Model 3.

Anyway, meet Geoff the 2002 Td4 Freelander. Geoff because of the GF on the plate, meaning he originally came from Maidstone in Kent. I was able to get these photos between rain showers this afternoon so it's wet. There are some scratches on the paint that are hidden by the drops.

I really think the 3 door looks handsome in black. Bumpers need a little work from the heat gun.



Seats fold down to make a decent amount of space in the back. Rear plastics are all a bit scratched, it doesn't matter as I'll be chucking stuff in but I'll make an effort to bring them back a bit. One of the POs replaced the green and gold Freelander badge with a black and silver one, suits the car very nicely.


All 3 windows go up and down, not a certainty for an old Freelander. The ability to roll down the rear window is great, especially with a 3-door. More on that in another post.


Interior smells a bit but is otherwise quite clean and pleasant. Being a pre-facelift Td4 (actually listed as facelift on the JLR classic site) it has the black interior with silver accents rather than beige and turquoise. I don't usually like all-black interiors but there's enough space and light in here to compensate. Cigarette lighter has never been used. Seat cloth material is called 'Jungle Trek'. A pair of manually operated flip up sunroof panels means no mechanisms to go wrong and seals can be easily checked and cleaned.


Limited Edition badge was put there by a previous owner and was around a fiver on eBay, it's hilarious enough for me to leave it on.


Toolbox cubby was a little damp but not full of water as some are, critically the lock mechanism isn't all rusted to shit. The toolkit is complete and looks untouched. Some spare bolts included.


As he's called Geoff, a sticker saying such was necessary.


Geoff was cheap. Even if we only look at inflation since 2011 and not car price increases beside that, he was cheaper than Keely was in 2011. He's also younger, has done fewer miles and is in better condition than Keely was. Okay so a Disco will be worth more than a Hippo, but you get the point. Despite the initial appearance there are, of course, issues with Geoff. First, here's a list of what I used to haggle the price down to almost half of the original asking price:
  • Tyres need replacing
  • Windscreen is cracked
  • Tailgate didn't open
  • No service history
  • Rear propshaft completely missing (FWD only)
Let's address the easy ones there first. The tyres and cracked windscreen were MOT advisories and should technically still only be that on the next MOT in August, however I will be replacing the tyres before then. The screen can be ignored for now, then I'll have it done on my insurance. I'm not worried about the lack of service history, the air filter and engine oil were remarkably clean and there were obvious signs that someone had cared for the car so I'll use this as a baseline. I already have a service kit with an upgrade part but I'll go into more detail in another post. The tailgate didn't open because they hadn't unlocked the car properly, it was fine for me. The springs that return the tailgate handle are broken but that's no big deal.

The lack of rear propshaft can be seen as good or bad. It means that Geoff only has front-wheel-drive, a disadvantage for off road work but not for what I plan to use it for. There are three components of the transmission that deal with the rear drive, and all of them can fail over time. The VCU (Viscous Coupling Unit) only has a lifespan of 70,000 miles and usually fails first (Geoff has done 123K miles), then a combination of this VCU locking up and maybe mismatched tyre sizes will cause the IRD (Intermediate Reduction Drive) on the back of the gearbox and/or the rear differential to fail. Unless you know the history down to when the tyres were replaced then it would be sensible to replace these components anyway, it's just hard to get a seller to accept this. Telling them that the rear prop and VCU is missing gets the price down much faster. I do plan to replace those parts eventually but they're expensive.

I'm planning to use Geoff as a 'dog car' and will chuck a bike or camera gear in the back to go a bit further than I would in Bob. As I said, I don't plan on doing serious off roading but may install a snorkel just to make sure any water crossing on green lanes or big puddles on the road don't catch me out. There are still some jobs to do, as you may have seen from the photos:
  • The right-hand finisher on the back of the hardback is broken and needs replacing. Available from LR Classic.
  • There is some corrosion in the bracket behind the top hardback finisher that also serves as the outer seal for the window. Not completely unobtainium but not cheap either, will see if I can find a good price. Not critical as the window doesn't leak.
  • The roof once had the bars fitted and they have been removed, however the rear mounts are still in place and the blanking plates haven't been fitted to the roof. Likely it had the roof bars from the factory. Available from LR Classic, I could 3D print them but for £5 each it's hardly worth it. Currently one is taped but the other is not
  • The far left vent is missing it's little button to adjust the angle, maybe a 3D print or scrapyard job.
  • It's missing floor mats. I plan to buy genuine Land Rover items from LR Classic as a full set is actually cheaper than a set of decent rubber aftermarket mats.
  • Paint is fading from the LR emblem on the front, will re-paint with silver.
  • Some scratches need touching up, I have already done some with a paint marker but they need polishing in.
As with most cars, this Freebie came with freebies. In this case it was a Dean Martin CD collection, a CD of Frank Sinatra and a screwdriver. Along with a some rubbish that hadn't been cleaned out from under the rear seats. One item was a bit of polystyrene plane that strongly points to this being owned by an older person.

This should be fun. There's a bit of torque steer and the gearbox could probably do with an oil change as it can be a tad confused sometimes but otherwise it drives well. No smoke at all after starting which is surprising. Look out for more posts soon as I've already started several things and bought some parts.
 
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Matt2000

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First modification to Geoff was to remove the cheap looking 4WD stickers. They're also from eBay for a fiver each, I'll keep them but I don't want them on the car.




Much better.


Strangely enough these pictures make the paint look amazing. There was a red plastic anti-scratch strip on the edge of the driver's door that, ironically, caused a load of small scratches.
 

93Flareside

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LR’s are your thing it seems. I hope it serves you well.

It’s… I don’t know what to say about it. I didn’t see them a lot when they were sold new and they’re pretty much non-existent around the US Midwest.
 

Perc

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I never understood why people put fake or aftermarket badges on. The Geoff sticker gets instant approval, of course :D
 

eizbaer

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I even take care to get rid of the OEM badges if I sensibly can… :|
nice car, this. Remember liking these when they were new… they weren’t all that rare back then, but I don’t think many are still on the roads here, either. Let’s see what you do with it - unlike me, you actually do something with the car :p
 

public

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Ooh, an ADWAD (All driven wheels are driven) club member! So this is essentially a Maestro now then? :p

Kidding aside, I love these things. I think the design has aged really well.
 

Matt2000

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I was never a fan of this shape, it felt 'soft' for a mass market appeal.
Me neither, until I suddenly started to appreciate them more recently. It wouldn't have fitted in at any other time either, I've never wanted something this close to a generic 'car' before. Of course, that isn't very close...

I didn’t see them a lot when they were sold new and they’re pretty much non-existent around the US Midwest.
Land Rover were rubbish at selling anything other than the Range Rover in the US at this time, I honestly can't understand why anyone in the US would buy one at all.

I even take care to get rid of the OEM badges if I sensibly can… :|
nice car, this. Remember liking these when they were new… they weren’t all that rare back then, but I don’t think many are still on the roads here, either. Let’s see what you do with it - unlike me, you actually do something with the car :p
I'd be afraid of the paint coming off with these OEM badges, the reason I plan to paint the front letters is because the clearcoat between them is lifting. I'm fine with the LR logos everywhere on these (inside and outside), they had something to be proud of. Even if nobody knew it at the time.

Freelanders aren't really rare now, apart from the 1.8 petrols that have mostly died from engine failure. They seem to be well protected from rust like no other LR product and the BMW-derived Td4 is a strong engine. Lots of E46s around still so why not Freelanders? 3-door models like this are more rare but still at the bottom of their value right now.

Ooh, an ADWAD (All driven wheels are driven) club member! So this is essentially a Maestro now then? :p

Kidding aside, I love these things. I think the design has aged really well.
It's somewhere between a Masetro (or Metro, given the shape of the dash) and an E46 320d. :LOL:

I also thing that the design has aged well, as we're finding for many designs from this time that were unpopular when they were new. I prefer this original design to the 2003 facelift, which looks more modern overall but is trying a bit too hard and looks like it's crying black tears.

Between bouts of British winter I just changed the crankcase breather from an oily filter to an upgraded oil separator, that will be a post by itself.
 

Tram

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I like it! I didn't even notice that it subconsciously reminded me of a certain animal looks-wise until you pointed it out in the thread title... :D

I had a silver scale model (1:24, IIRC) of one of these as a kid, I don't think it survived my 'modifications', but it might still be in my parents' basement. I never was a big fan of these, but as it is with most quirky cars from that period, it's oddly enough starting to grow on me. Which is funny, because just a few years ago, this would've been just 'an car' to me... :D
 

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I just realized there’s a full blown glovebox under the steering column and the dash looks like it has all the ingredients of being easy to convert to LHD including moving the apparently bolt-on gauge pod over.
 

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I like it! I didn't even notice that it subconsciously reminded me of a certain animal looks-wise until you pointed it out in the thread title... :D

I had a silver scale model (1:24, IIRC) of one of these as a kid, I don't think it survived my 'modifications', but it might still be in my parents' basement. I never was a big fan of these, but as it is with most quirky cars from that period, it's oddly enough starting to grow on me. Which is funny, because just a few years ago, this would've been just 'an car' to me... :D
Land Rover actually compared it to a hippo in their marketing materials!

RAIK_04048_0032130A.jpg


Definitely didn't rate the Freelander very highly until recently, the fact that they're currently the cheapest they'll ever get was an incentive to get one. 😀

Anyway, more stuff to report on. I had been watching lots of videos on Freelanders before I got this one, particularly about servicing. Another job I did after picking Geoff up was to take it apart and find out how clean the air filter was, with a plan to also check the crankcase breather filter. It sits under a cover and people apparently ignore it during DIY servicing, so it gets blocked and the crankcase pressure increases, eventually pushing oil out of places where oil should come out.

I had already checked the oil and it was clean, so it wasn't a massive surprise (but still a surprise) to see that the air filter was clean.


I unscrewed the bolts holding the crankcase breather filter cover down but the damn thing wouldn't come out, a fuel injector pipe was in the way. Not wanting to take any pipes off the injectors and with it getting dark, I put it all back together. This is what the cover of the filter looks like, you can see the pipe that's stopping it from lifting off.


After watching more videos and seeing that the pipe in the way is just a fuel return that can be easily unclipped, today I went back out with the upgrade oil separator I had delivered in the week. It took less than an hour to take it all apart, remove the old filter (which was all oily so definitely wasn't new), change the two rubber seals, change the O-ring and then put it all back together again. My Makita ratchet really helped to speed this up.


This is a good video that goes through the whole procedure, and ultimately mentions removing those pipes:

This 'upgrade' seems to split opinion online, some people thinking it works and others just preferring to regularly replace the filter. I'll see how it goes and will go back to the filter if I feel like this isn't working out.

Also today I installed the missing cubby box top mat that was missing and I bought from eBay. It has a little moulded recess underneath for a strip of velcro, which was in place on the mat but missing on the cubby and allowed me to finally use a bit of genuine Velcro out of the box I've had for years. A future job is to get some plastic polish on those seatbelt buckle release buttons.



Next time, roof off shenanigans!
 

Matt2000

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I just realized there’s a full blown glovebox under the steering column and the dash looks like it has all the ingredients of being easy to convert to LHD including moving the apparently bolt-on gauge pod over.
Yeah it's clearly designed to easily be built as LHD or RHD. The right glovebox has the fusebox in it but is otherwise identical to the left, there's also a blanking plug where the electric mirror controls would go. The window controls are also still inboard on this model but they went to the door on the 2003 facelifted model.
 

Matt2000

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I need to keep this up before I fall behind. I drove Geoff to and from a friend's place about 30 minutes away today and I was seriously impressed, for such a cheap Land Rover it's quiet, drives well, the heating works perfectly and the lights are impressively bright (still not sure if they're legal).

I also got a couple of spare keys cut today as the only key with the transponder in is a little bent, I don't want to break it. I'll use these new keys for the doors and use the old key for the ignition.

Anyway back to another thing I did after getting Geoff back home, take the roof off! I really wanted a 3-door hardback as having the removable roof is a really quirky feature, one I want to use. It also means that I have fewer electric windows and no electric sunroof to worry about, which is nice.

The back clearly hadn't been off for a while and it took a bit of work to separate it, but it eventually came off and I could see Geoff half-naked for the first time.


I cleaned up the seals and then cleaned up the headlining of the hardback. Like the front, this is just textured plastic so it was really easy to clean.


It took a bit of work to get it back on again, the whole thing is pretty flexible and didn't want to adopt the right shape. Manhandling it was the way to go and it popped in. As with many cars that have removable roof parts, there's actually no space for the roof you take off. I thought it might fit in sideways with the rear seats folded down, but it doesn't. Not sure what you're supposed to do if it rains when you're out, get wet I suppose.
 

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Is there a canvas top that replaces the removable hardtop part?
 

Matt2000

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They did sell a softback version with a camping-holiday rear cover, I don't think I've ever seen one fitted but they do occasionally pop up on eBay. They aren't cheap and look like a real pain to fit..
1645523782063.png


There's also a 'shower cover' which looks like a Quechua tent stretched over the back. Also quite rare it seems and hardly a sturdy cover. Would be fine for emergencies. You can see how the roof rails get in the way, I'm glad that mine are gone.
1645523932941.png


It doesn't look like anyone made an aftermarket version.
 

eizbaer

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There's also a 'shower cover' which looks like a Quechua tent stretched over the back.
that is indeed exactly what it looks like... honestly the picture looks like something that was DIYd by someone who got surprised by the rain and had to make to with what they had in the back of the car or something. oof.

... that other thing: the exact opposite. with those two "windows" or whatever... looks like they just made it too complicated. i would've expected something right in the middle between those two solutions to be nice and usable.
 

93Flareside

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There's also a 'shower cover' which looks like a Quechua tent stretched over the back. Also quite rare it seems and hardly a sturdy cover. Would be fine for emergencies. You can see how the roof rails get in the way, I'm glad that mine are gone.
View attachment 3564136

It doesn't look like anyone made an aftermarket version.

It's the Smart Roadster all over again. :D
 
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