So. After four months’ frustration, endless donkey work between offices in different Emirates, rushing about with bits of paper and fluent swearing, the Camel Trophy Discovery is finally registered and legal in the UAE. Massive costs – I was given an insurance quote of 400 dh in December, yesterday I ended up paying 1700 dh Third Party cover (no explanation for increase) plus 355 dh registration fees – so 400 sterling altogether.
However. It’s done, and, as you can see above, we were out in the desert yesterday for a short shakedown. This was a very low-key affair – tyres at road pressures, just checking difflock and lowbox functionality and getting a feel for her offroad. The first impression is of weight. The big steel custom-made roof rack is very heavy. It’s an over-engineered copy of the Land Rover G4 rack and I suspect exceeds the static roof load limit on its own. So that needs to come off, and be replaced by a couple of simple roof bars. The ARB bull bar is also heavy, but that’s an important bit of kit, especially when it comes to mounting the winch which I am currently rebuilding.
However apart from the weight of the vehicle, first impressions were good. There is the inevitable feeling of a lack of control when using an automatic gearbox offroad (at least, for a Luddite like me), and the weight plus the wide tyres made her scrabble a bit on rocky, loose climbs and descents, but the power of the v8 was a new experience for a dieselhead like me, and it was interesting to balance the horsepower vs torque comparison between the Tdi engines that I’m used to (2.5 lit, 4 cyl, turbo) and this petrol v8 (3.9 lit).
The suspension is nicely set-up, with a good balance of stiffness to limit body roll (especially with that heavy roof rack high up) and suppleness to allow full axle travel, and she rides very well. She has a custom drawer system in the rear which I quite like (though it does look a bit DIY) as it makes the cramped rear of a Discovery 1 a bit more organisable, but it does rattle, and that rattle is going to be irritating.
At any rate – very pleased. Next jobs are to get her serviced and replace all the wheelbearings and hoses. She is a 90% finished project – now for the last bits 🙂