It was worth the wait, however, with CAR magazine calling it the ‘hot-rodder’s 4×4’ when its editorial team got the keys to a 90 version in July 1998. No surprise, really, when you consider they clocked it a 0-100km/h time at 9.3 seconds – for an all-wheel-drive, chassis-based vehicle complete with solid axles! That number was almost half what the outgoing V8 Landy achieved at the hands of CAR’s testers in March 1990. Back then the V8 version could only muster 134km/h at full lick but in 2.8i ‘90’ form it hit 169km/h, and even that number was capped, as Rob recalls. “It saw over 170km/h on test, but we had to limit it as the Land Rover got quite nervous at high speed.”
Those numbers would’ve startled the Landy’s original designers, brothers Maurice and Spencer Wilks, had they been around today. When they famously sketched out a design for an all-purpose vehicle with the capability of the American Willys Jeep more than 70 years ago in the sand on a beach in Wales, they could never have envisioned this pairing. Or even the fact that their design would remain so recognisable when the transplant took place in the mid-1990s.
And it’s the recognition that made it well-loved enough back then for BMW to bank on a market for their prodigy; Maurice and Spencer would’ve felt right at home if either one had stood on the foot plate to hoist himself up and behind the wheel of this 2.8i. Despite the use of plastic to locate instruments and minor controls, the old-fashioned, sit-up-and-beg driving position is unchanged. Ditto the signature lever-operated horizontal air flaps and the fold-down sideways benches in the rear – and indeed the external hinges on the doors. Sure, there have been additions over the years, such as the knee-level 1970s-style air conditioning vents, but a few minutes behind the wheel will have you entertained by the farcical lack of ergonomics. Of course, that’s what makes a Landy so endearing. Turn the ignition key and the emotions continue as you hear the distinct sound of the BMW ‘6’. It’s a noise that becomes increasingly addictive the more you prod the throttle and feel the resultant surge that’s incongruous with the Landy’s traditional willing-but-lumbering character.