Nav Singh Rai (above) tells us how unique his P38 Range Rover HSE Autobiography is, including why its famous previous owner, Noel Edmonds had it turned into the best mobile office there was in the 90’s!
”Range Rovers have been a massive part of my life, especially when I was young. My father always drove them, I remember his first one, a 2000 Vogue P38A in Oslo blue, with cream leather. It was like riding around on Aladdin’s magic carpet. This car alone is partly why I now work at Jaguar Land Rover.
I am so grateful I dared to finally get the Range Rover of my dreams, a one-of-one ex-Concept Car, the one and only 1997 Range Rover ‘Mobile Office Concept’.
I had the itch to own a P38A for ages, but it had to have a particular reason to exist: it had to be unique. I saw several limited editions, in various conditions, but I still hadn’t found ‘The One’. However a couple of days after P880 KAC was advertised online, I couldn’t resist buying my dream P38. After suffering £442.000 in depreciation over the last 20-years, I picked P880 up for a smidge under £8.000.
‘P880’ is hugely special: in essence, it is a road legal concept car. It was a one-off production piece produced by Land Rover Special Vehicles in conjunction with Unique Technic, part of Noel Edmonds’ Unique group of companies. Sony and BT Cellnet joined in during P880’s production and installed various laptops, a fax machine, and a then mind-blowing video conferencing system streaming to anywhere in the world via this new popular thing, the internet. Other gadgets include TVs, a voice recognition software, a VHS video player, fold-down laptop table and printer, along with, three, yes three telephones. There is even a port under the rear bumper which could connect a camera mounted on the rear of a horsebox.
No less than four aerials adorn the roof and a fridge-sized box in the boot houses all the electronic gadgetry. To put things into perspective, back then, it this was wilder than Jamie Oliver’s recent Mobile Kitchen concept Discovery – and arguably more fit for purpose.
Take P880 as the art of the possible for Land Rover at the time, and the great leafs newer generations would take out of this Unique P38A. It really did help shape the future of SVO and the great things Land Rover is capable of today.
Right after P880 was first introduced at the Annual British Motor Show of 1998 and presented to a panel of ‘company executive on the move’, the project to offer over-the-top Autobiography bespoke Range Rover took off. The Autobiography program introduced in 1993 was ready to be taken to a whole other level. Noel Edmonds subsequently bought the Range Rover for him and kept it until 2001. The following owner was the gentleman I bought it from, making me the third private titleholder.
If Noel hadn’t purchased this vehicle after it was used for public relation, it would have most likely been crushed a long time ago. I am so grateful 20-years later this one-off P38A is mine. The development story of it being a test-pilot for future P38A’s and L322’s was the biggest selling point for me – along with the astronomical budget of 450-grand.
Land Rover really wanted to concentrate on enhancing added value and new ideas for future cycle-plans based on the Autobiography trim line. It is a testament to the great and wonderful things that could be possible for Range Rover Models of the future.
I just love its uniqueness. Its colour coding has flamboyance from miles, its interior and ride quality are just as good as Range Rovers of today, but the biggest thing that makes me love it is how rare, and how well thoroughly though-out its development story was. It was so special, even Sony and Cellnet used it as a press-car for technology shows. This car is a milestone for Land Rover as it was at the forefront of automotive technology.
I bought it at a mileage of 81.000 miles and all I’ve added in 6-months is 2.000 miles. If it was economical, I would use her more over my Evoque as it drives so beautifully, however, the 8 mpg makes it a weekend only mistress (the Evoque does 42.8 mpg). That said, who buys a full-size Rangie for the economy?
So far, all I’ve done is give it a full service, including the gearbox oil flush, and got the chassis professionally rustproofed. However, like many P38’s, it does need a bit of TLC to get her feeling fresh again. On the agenda is the revamping of the driver seat’s leather finish, replacing the slightly sagging headliner, sourcing replacement for the original Lambs wool carpets that came with her, and get the bumpers touched up to get her ready to be showcased.
P880 fulfils its rarity, styling and gizmo qualities exceptionally well and drives so much better than I expected. If only Land Rover fitted her with Mondial alloys at the time of launch, I think she’d be just perfect.”