‘Beaver Bullet’ Range Rover set for Land Rover Legends

One of two 4x4s used to break a raft of diesel records will be showcased during inaugural marque show at Bicester Heritage on May 26-27

An endurance record-breaking Range Rover will be among the exhibits at Bicester Heritage’s forthcoming Land Rover Legends weekend. It will form part of the ‘Star Cars’ showcase fronted by TV’s Mark Evans at the May 26-27 event.

Dubbed the Beaver Bullet, the 4x4 is one of two 2.4-litre VM-powered diesels famous for driving at 100mph over an excess of 24 hours straight – an effort that set the foundations for Land Rover’s future endeavours with diesel power.

The record bids were originally made in an attempt to counter a wave of negative publicity after TV presenter Chris Goffey’s disastrous road test of the new Range Rover diesel during a 1986 episode of Top Gear. Much of the company’s future was relying on the engine, so management and engineers decided that the adverse reception had to be reversed.

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Land Rover Legends content director Gary Pusey explains: ‘A lot was riding on the new diesel Range Rover at the time, and the team involved in creating it were understandably very disappointed by the negative media coverage.

‘A manager at Land Rover who was into competitive motor sport came up with the idea to make an attempt on a raft of diesel vehicle sprint and endurance records, and the project quickly gathered momentum. Two VM-powered cars subsequently took 27 sprint and endurance records at MIRA.’

Pusey continues: ‘What made the team’s achievement all the more remarkable was that they were volunteers, working unpaid and in their own time, with a passion to set the record straight. We are delighted to announce that some of the remarkable Bullet record-breaking team will be sharing their experiences in person at the Land Rover Legends show.’

The car on display – B378 TAC – was subject to a number of contemporary modifications in order to meet safety requirements and allow rapid, time-saving pitstops. These included two racing-spec fuel fillers on the rear tailgate, a full internal roll cage, integrated radio communications, quick-release bonnet catch and some other minor alterations, such as the removal of passenger and rear seats.

The Beaver Bullet is presented in original and unrestored condition, appearing again in public for the first time since the trials 32 years ago. Further famous Land Rovers at Land Rover Legends will include Joe and Bob Ives’ Camel Trophy-winning 110 and the Oxford Series I from the iconic Oxford-Cambridge expedition.

To help unearth less famous but still worthy vehicles, Land Rover Legends has teamed up with show partners Footman James and Farer to host the first National Awards for Land Rovers.

Classic car insurer Footman James will present the Land Rover Legends Award for the 4x4 and story that depict the true essence of the worshipped brand. Alongside this award, watch maker Farer will present the National Award for the Most Original Vehicle – recognising patina, authenticity and character from unrestored examples.

You can find out more on the official Bicester Heritage website.

What happened on Top Gear?

Before Clarkson, Hammond and May revitalised the BBC’s flagship motoring programme in a 2002 revamp, Top Gear was aired every Thursday evening on BBC2. The lead presenter – Chris Goffey – held one of the most influential voices in UK car culture.

Back in 1986, Chris made his opinion very clear on the new Range Rover diesel – it did not go well.

Having built such success on the performance and refinement of its 3.5-litre petrol V8, Land Rover’s less refined oil-burning alternative was a bit of a shock to the system. It took some time to catch on – mainly down to Top Gear’s unfavourable review.

The interesting back story, however, is that the Range Rover delivered to Top Gear never went through a PDI (pre-delivery inspection), let alone a detailed preparation by Land Rover’s famed press garage and vehicle operations team. For some reason, this one, to the company’s great cost, slipped through the net.

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