Jono chats with Brook about his love affair with adventure rigs, including vans, dirt bikes and his beautiful 1988 Range Rover Classic.
If you see an old four-wheel drive cruising down the highway, chances are it’s a labour of love. Brook had a particular aesthetic in mind when he decided to switch to gears from the van life to something a little more capable off-road and damn, his Rangie really is a beauty.
If you’re on the fence about deep tread and four-wheeled power, this interview might be the one to tip you over the edge.
Jono: What’s the make and model of your adventure rig?
Brook: It’s a 1988 Range Rover Classic
What drew you to the Range Rover Classic?
It was the shape that I fell in love with. The classic box shape really stood out to me as a timeless 4WD. I’d been eyeing one for a while and had noticed that they were starting to shoot up in price and collectability, so as soon as I found something within my price range that ticked most of the boxes, I jumped on it.
It sports a beasty 4.2L V8 engine with an LPG gas option. How thirsty is it and is LPG worth it?
I wouldn’t say it’s a sporty weapon but it does make all the right noises, that’s for sure. Though you just don’t really move as quick as it sounds, it has more than enough power to get you through most obstacles off-road.
The 4.2L engine does drink yes, terribly. If you want fuel economy do yourself a favour and don’t buy an old V8 Range Rover!
It’s definitely not a daily use car and we really only take it out for escapades, for which I don’t mind copping the fuel bill each time. LPG’s cheaper so that helps a lot, but it also burns faster so it’s still not great.
All in, there’s a heap of fuel onboard at any given time. With the long-range 120L fuel tank in the rear, a 60L LPG tank and 2 x 20L Jerry cans… you can imagine how hefty the bill is at the servo.
Was it always the plan to chuck a rooftop tent on top? Do you rate the Feldon Shelter?
100%, that was always the plan. Get an 80’s 4WD and throw a Feldon up top. I have always loved what they do and have been a fan for years so it made sense to support fellow Kiwis on their venture. It’s a really nice addition to any 4WD rig, super spacious, cosy and comfortable.
Any more mods on the cards or are you sorted with the rig? It’s almost stock right?
[Laughs] No not almost stock at all, that’s just the look I always wanted to try to achieve when modifying. I didn’t want it to look like a bush pig hack, but there is a fair amount of work that’s gone into setting it up as a capable 4WD. The most recent mod was an ARB rear air locker, which I’ve found to be very useful for getting me out of trouble in some really rough spots I’ve fallen into off-road.
The Rangie is now at a point where I don’t really need or want to do anything else to it, it’s a nice all-round rig. Doesn’t look out of place around town yet performs strong off-road.
What was the most difficult mod you did to the Rangie?
Nothing was really ‘difficult’ as such, everything is just time-consuming. The most pig of a job though would be swapping out the gearbox and transfer case to an LT230, that took a solid weekend and was both awkward and time-consuming. But we all pitched in and got it done.
Which came first? Your Van or Fourbie?
#VanLife of course, wasn’t that the first ‘trend’? [Laughs]. I got the van in 2015 and wasn’t even considering 4WD’s back then. I could never really understand why people did it until I went out with a group of mates and was allowed to wheel an old troopy. I fell in love with it instantly and started looking at 4WDs in 2018, which is when I snapped up the Rangie.
What got you started down the path of collecting adventure rigs?
I’m not sure to be honest. I’ve always been in love with anything with an engine and was always tinkering on my other vehicles, so I guess it came naturally to me. When you’re into vehicles, photography, and the outdoors, it makes sense to try and merge all of those interests. We had previously packed up the back of our old VW Polo and smashed out the East Coast in the summer of 2014, but it was cramped and pretty rough. We made the call to do it again in something with more space, that’s when the Van came along.
It looks like you’ve been drawn to the 4WD life more recently, why’s that?
We’ve decided to try to preserve the van as much as we can, so we tend to use that in summer when we’re doing longer trips to places like Brisbane or Adelaide. The 4WD makes more sense in the cold muddy winters of Melbourne so we’ve been using that more recently.
Plus most of our mates who we adventure with have sold off their vans to get 4WDs, so when we do all go away we would be limiting everyone as to where we stay if we were in the van. Taking the 4WD out has made sense lately and the novelty hasn’t quite worn off yet.
What’s the best place you’ve been able to access with your fourbie?
That’s a hard one as we’ve been to plenty of epic spots! A few standouts in the Victorian High Country would be up near Omeo and a secret spot which we refer to as ‘the shooting spot’ (long story), which we accidentally found in the High Country as well. It was very secluded and next to a river with plenty of room for the crew, definitely up there as a favourite.
What’s an underrated piece of gear that you take with you on all your trips?
The jerry cans! They come in handy not only if you run out of fuel, but also if a mate does too, especially when you’re deep in the bush with not a fuel stop in sight. It’s a pretty vital piece of equipment.
Other than that I reckon a chainsaw goes pretty hard in the bush too. You never know when you might come across a track blocked off with a fallen tree, and for cutting up logs for the fire it’s very handy.
Why did you decide to add a motorbike carrier rack onto the Range Rover?
So we could take the bike to the bush and go for a blat around some of these epic spots we come across. It’s just super fun bush bashing on an old dirt bike. I entertained the idea of a trailer, but it seemed like more hassle than it was worth given the places we go.
The carrier made much more sense, but I had to customise it so it didn’t mess with my departure angles too much when off-road and hit the ground.
When has having a motorbike on a trip really paid off?
We were recently (pre-COVID) at a spot out near Brigalong with the bikes and two vehicles. We found a super nice secluded spot down a very steep descent with our own private water hole. We set up camp, unloaded the bikes and went for a blat around the surrounding area. Bliss.
What advice would you give to someone looking to build a fourbie with the goal of off-road touring?
Set a budget and work towards it, although you always go over it. It can be pretty easy to get carried away on 4WDs, as there are so many accessories that you can add to them. Have a clear vision in mind as to how you want it to look and what you want to achieve.
Also, determine the type of adventures and travelling you are wanting to do early on. It doesn’t make sense to go all out on something if you plan to just take it down a dirt road to a 2WD accessible campsite. Be prepared for things to break and go wrong off-road, some basic mechanical knowledge goes a long way, especially on older 4WDs.
What’s your favourite tune to jam out to when you’re on the road?
Depends on my mood, but 9/10 times when we are in a group situation, we just banter the entire trip on the UHF radios. It’s actually not as lame as it sounds.
Any future plans to look out for?
Robe in South Australia when the borders open up again. A beach trip is next on the cards next!
Ride shotgun on Brook’s adventures