Richard Dredge

Richard Dredge

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Richard Dredge

Richard Dredge

Range Rover Classic by FLM Panelcraft

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Latching on to the eighties craze of modified Range Rovers, FLM Panelcraft's catalogue ranged from mild to wild

The only picture in the Below The Radar archive of a Range Rover Classic modified by FLM Panlecraft is the one shown, which is rather a shame as it's perhaps the least ostentatious car that the coachbuilder made.

Available based on the two-door or four-door Range Rover Classic, the Hunting edition featured a front passenger seat along with individual rear seats that could be raised by 23 inches. All of this would have been in vain if the roof hadn't also been opened up, so there was a cloth sunroof that slid back to allow the car's occupants to take pot shots at any passing wildlife.

Intriguingly, the car in the picture is right-hand drive  which is a rarity as virtually all of these heavily modified Range Rovers were built for the Middle East; presumably there was a Duke or Earl in Surrey (or perhaps the wilds of Scotland) who wanted to be able to slaughter pheasants (or maybe peasants) that got in the way.

Buyers could choose their Range Rover Hunting to be based on the standard car with a 100-inch wheelbase, or there was a 110-inch version – or alternatively the 100-inch wheelbase could be left intact but the rear bodywork could be extended by eight inches. Options included gun racks, falcon perches, additional lighting, supplementary fuel tanks, a refrigerator and an integral CB radio. Winches on the front were also popular and this car features one, which is hidden behind that sloping grille.

Of course you didn't have to have elevating seats as FLM Panelcraft was happy to sell you a Range Rover Classic modified in all sorts of other ways. They were happy to slice the roof off for you, put on a new front end to give the car a completely different look, and overhaul the interior with Recaro seats, lashings of walnut trim and to wrap just about every surface in the finest Connolly leather.

If you had deeper pockets you might have been interested in getting FLM Panelcraft to install a 5.7-litre Chevrolet V8 in place of the regular 3.5-litre V8 that was fitted by Land Rover. You could also have a six-wheel conversion, a wheelbase stretch to as much as 118 inches and a third row of seats could also be slotted in – with either each of the four doors extended by nine inches, or with an extra pair of doors grafted in.

In that relatively brief period in the 1980s when the world seemed to be awash with money (well, at least some parts of it were), FLM Panelcraft created all sorts of personal commissions including an eight-seater six-door Range Rover Classic for a Middle Eastern family to tackle the school run. The company also came up with a communications unit for military use, based on the four-door Range Rover Classic.

Libya's Colonel Gaddafi commissioned a troop review car which was effectively a Range Rover landaulette with a crescent-shaped rear window – does this car survive we wonder? Several eight-seater personnel carriers were also built on the two-door chassis, each one effectively being a Range Rover convertible with a Land Rover-style canvas roof. Options included a fold-flat windscreen, machine gun posts plus extra fuel and water tanks.

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