The Range Rover Turbo Diesel ‘Beaver Bullet’ Was Built Because Of A Bad Top Gear Review

This classic Range Rover isn’t just another car as it’s probably the world’s only vehicle built as a response to a negative review.

It all started during the early days of the Top Gear TV show in 1986. Chris Goffey, the presenter of the popular show at the time, was one of the first to drive the then-new Range Rover diesel and suffice to say he wasn’t impressed.

The Top Gear presenter criticized the 2.4-liter VM diesel engine as being much less refined than the 3.5-liter V8 petrol unit, among other things.

Legend has it that the actual Range Rover delivered to Top Gear never went through the company’s pre-delivery inspection, let alone a detailed preparation by Land Rover’s press garage which ultimately led to the negative review.

“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,” said Gary Pusey, Land Rover Legends Content Director.

“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,” he added.

Land Rover built two diesel-powered Range Rovers that subsequently took 27 sprint and endurance records at MIRA. The team’s achievement was even greater if you think that its members were unpaid volunteers working in their own time.

Modifications on the record cars included two racing-spec fuel fillers on the rear tailgate, a full roll cage, quick-release bonnet catch and the removal of the passenger and rear seats, among others.

Despite not selling well in the UK, the VM-powered Range Rover proved to be a huge success in continental Europe, especially in the markets with punitive tax regimes on vehicles with engines greater than 2.5-liters. The original 2.4-liter unit was replaced by a 2.5-liter one in 1989.

The ‘Beaver Bullet’ with the number plate B378 TAC will be presented in its original and unrestored condition at the upcoming Land Rover Legends event at Bicester Heritage, UK in May.

  • Christian Wimmer

    “The Top Gear presenter criticized the 2.4-liter VM diesel engine as being much less refined than the 3.5-liter V8 petrol unit, among other things.”

    Um…. yeah…like duh?

  • Not that I take side with old Top Gear (Yes kids, Top Gear exist before you knew the trio). The VM Diesels is rather crude and harsh, yes it does it jobs but totally unacceptable for Range Rover at that time.

    Things were only get better when we got BMW diesel powered P38 series.

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