Famous Four

Independent Land Rover Specialists

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Looking back 20 Years…

Looking back at an article in International Off-Roader in August 1997 – 20 years on we now have 19 staff
and 3 dogs!

We DID move to larger premises in Louth, which we have since expanded and also added a brand new bespoke workshop. We are busier than ever and constantly expanding.

What a young bunch of lads we looked back then! We might be lacking the hair we had back then, but we are still as passionate about off-roader 4x4s!

Transcript of the article

Famous Four and Getting Even More So…

From August 1997 International Off-Roader Magazine

FAMOUS FOUR is one of the biggest mail order companies for 4×4 products in the UK. They have been established for nearly 10 years and have grown and expanded since their humble beginnings. Back in 1988, Richard Varrall started the business at Market Rasen, a small market town in rural Lincolnshire more famous for horse racing than anything else, in a shop front barely big enough to take two bull bars and a set of tyres.

famous four team

Richard founded the business after gaining a degree in English at university. Initially he thought it would be a temporary measure to widen his horizons, earn some money and keep him out of the pub before he started a teaching career.

He obviously had the right recipe for success and was forced to move to larger premises in 1990. The site he found was twelve miles East of Louth, another market town. He then doubled his workforce to two and worked long days to keep up with customer demands.

Another expansion followed and workshops and storage were obtained adjacent to his Louth premises and the workforce is now up to six staff. Moves are afoot at this present time regarding moving to purpose-built new premises on an industrial estate in Louth, as the expansion of the business continues.

All the staff at Famous Four have driven off-road competitively, Richard and his brother Andrew have driven in trials and comp safari, Martin Stebbings (Stebbs) still competes in all disciplines with his Series One 80″ trialler and a class nine safari motor. He is also one of the most experienced passengers in the country having had a three year rest from driving yet never missing a chance for a ride!

Geoff has RTV’d, and Andy has recently returned from South Africa where he was working on and driving 4x4s.

Jim is the sixth member of this close team and has a soft spot for the Series One Land Rover as well as his Defender. There is a seventh member of the team, the office bitch Lucy, a chocolate Labrador and the only female on the staff.

The entire workforce at Famous Four has the necessary knowledge to be able to deal with the hundreds of customer enquiries that are received daily. Likewise if a vehicle comes in for breaking for spares they all have the ability to put their overalls on and get stuck in. It is this attitude that has helped the company grow. All the staff have their own roles but they can each overlap, a true strength-in-depth company.

To date the export side of Famous Four includes orders to remote areas of the world including Nepal, Cambodia, Russia, Iceland, and even St Helena, one of the remotest Islands. They were one of the first companies to have their own home page on the Internet, their web site can be found on www.Famous Four.co.uk

In the early days, the company relied on tyre, wheels and bullbar sales but, as times moved on, they are now selling their suspension kits as well as side bars, bullbars and thousands of lines of Rover replacement parts.

Famous Four’s latest break¬through in a competitive market is their new minus-one-inch cc springs for Discoverys. Like the majority of the products they sell, these lowered coils are fitted to one of the company’s vehicles. The Discovery that these are fitted to also has low profile tyres and the road holding is phenomenal, it also gives the vehicle a low sleeker look.

After 100 years without a roundabout, Louth now has two and it is round these that the low coil springs on this Discovery shows the increaser cornering ability. Potential customers can be shown how the handling can be improved significantly at a relatively low cost before they purchase. With all the staff running 4x4s, Richard and his team have the confidence to fit the products they sell to these vehicles as well as having the ability to speak from experience when answering customer enquires.

Part of the reason for wanting to move to larger premises is the increase in the secondhand parts market. Famous Four break all Land Rover models from the series vehicles to 100s and even Discoverys.

Another product that Famous Four sell in vast numbers is their handling kit, and that was my main reason for being there this particular day. Andrew Varrall was to fit one of these handling kits to the IOR 90, H2 LRO. The 1991 Tdi still had all the original suspension fitted to it Andrew found this out by cleaning the old springs and reading the colour codes painted on them.

andrew varrall

He was doubly sure when he struggled to remove the old shockers. The header tank and the air cleaner were removed before the serious work commenced. Andrew completed the front end change over without removing the wheels, a job that would be quite simple for the Land Rover enthusiast who is used to diy on Solihull products.

Caution is needed when lowering the axle not to over stretch the brake pipes. Apart from this, the whole job is straight forward and should not take more than four hours to complete. One good tip is to wire brush the paint off the Monroe Gas Magnum 4×4 shocker threads before starting, this will save 15 minutes of spannering against the paint.

andrew varrall

The only other parts required that are not supplied are new Nyloc nuts for the top of the rear shock absorbers. Although the old ones could be used it is not advisable – for the cost of about 30p, new nuts should be used.

The total cost for the person who can fit the handling kit themselves is only £350 (1997 prices) inclusive of VAT. The test to see whether it was worth spending that sort of money was soon answered. Simply, yes.

The improvement to the 90 is incredible. I have done a couple of hundred miles in it already and the difference in cornering and general road holding is very noticeable. The ride comfort, if you can use the words comfort and Land Rover together, has not been affected.

I live down a long farm track which tests and ruins the best of cars, and the Defender is as smooth as it was with the floppies on. My son, who drives several new Defenders daily, tried out the handling kit and was surprised how good it was. It drove like a new vehicle on a usual pre-delivery inspection run he commented. Not bad for a six year old, hard worked vehicle with 7.50 tyres fitted and a roof rack on.

As time goes on we will bring you an update on how the handling kit wears and performs off-road. I have taken it off-road for a short run and did not cross axle on an area where I thought it might with the stiffer springs fitted. It seems to be a worthwhile kit to buy with no obvious disadvantages

to date.

 


Buying Advice – Land Rover Discovery Td5

A potential Land Rover owner recently contacted us with a great question about buying a Discovery Td5. There are a lot of these vehicles around at low prices these days but are they worth it?

I know you guys have been around for a while and everyone I have ever known with a Land Rover swears by you guys.  Now I keep hearing that a Discovery 2 Td5 manual among all land rovers are just money pits! I really want to take the plunge and buy one but what advice would you guys give to a new buyer.

As you are thinking of taking the plunge and buying a Land Rover, here are some of our thoughts of what to look for when buying a Land Rover Discovery Td5, based on a great deal of experience with these vehicles since they launched back in 1998.

Discovery Td5 vehicles are getting a bit long in the tooth now and, whilst they are intrinsically a pretty good vehicle, age related issues are starting to rear their heads.

Look out for corrosion, especially at the back-end of the chassis, but also sills, bulkhead and other areas of the inner frame. This can be expensive to repair. We can now supply the rear quarter section of the chassis.

Cylinder head failure is now quite common, and it is very expensive to buy a new head. Repair of a head does not work in our experience. Symptoms are fuel in the oil, noticeable by checking the oil level on the oil dipstick isn’t too HIGH. This will often indicate either cylinder head internal failure, but can also be due to fuel injector sealing washers failing causing fuel to leak into engine, which is a much less expensive repair.

If buying a manual gearbox model, clutch and flywheel wear can lead to expensive bills. Automatic gearboxes can fail, especially if the engine has been re-mapped for more power, as this tends to prematurely wear the auto ‘box.

More general issues with the Discovery Td5 range are;

  • Hub(s) leaking – requires new (expensive) hub(s)
  • Sunroof leaking – often difficult to diagnose
  • Central door locking not working (new latch/es)
  • Air suspension air bags/compressor/ride height sensor failures
  • Fuel pump and/or fuel pressure regulator failure (left unchecked can lead to starter motor failure due to fuel dripping on to it from above)
  • Front swivel ball joint(s) worn
  • Engine misfires due to oil ingress in the engine wiring loom/ECU
  • ACE (Active Cornering Enhancement) system wear – corroded pipes – very expensive to rectify/remove.

Unlike the earlier 200 Tdi and 300 Tdi models, the Discovery II Td5 model is not quite a ‘DIY’ Land Rover, and some jobs are best done in a specialist workshop with the required diagnostic equipment and expertise.

Buying a vehicle with a comprehensive service history is always advisable, but be prepared for repair bills which are bigger than those for the older, less technically sophisticated Land Rover Discovery vehicles of earlier years. However, just because we’ve listed some fairly major potential failings, it doesn’t mean that all (or any) of these will befall your potential new steed!


Workshop Diary – Range Rover Sport TDV8 Turbocharger

 

It’s fair to say that we here at Famous Four, along with many modern era Range Rover owners, rate the TDV8 series of engines very highly with their plentiful power, huge torque and relatively(!!) frugal fuel economy for such a big power unit. Like any engine, though, sometimes things go wrong and the TDV8 is no more immune than any other powerplant fitted to Land Rover’s range.

Tight Fit!

Land Rover only fitted the TDV8 engine in the Range Rover Sport (first generation) from 2007 to 2010, leaving the range without V8 diesel option for the last three years of its life. When you undertake major engine work on a 3.6 Litre TDV8 model it’s easy to see why, the big V8 diesel engine occupies close to every square inch of space in the engine bay!

No better is this illustrated than when you change a turbocharger on one of these beasts, a task our workshop were given recently. Our intrepid technician, Luke, began the mammoth task of lifting the body off the chassis to access the engine and turbocharger. As involved as this sounds, the Discovery 3/4 and Range Rover Sport of this era were designed to facilitate this, with the electrics, ancillaries and pipework all conveniently disconnecting between the body and chassis. Upon removal of the easily located mounting bolts, the entire bodyshell lifts off with the help a workshop lift located under the jacking points. It’s a job we have done quite a few times on both models to change engines and parts that are not accessible from the engine bay or underside.

Changing the Turbocharger

As you can see from the pictures of the bodyshell engine bay area, and the engine sitting on the chassis, the engine is a mighty tight squeeze! The turbochargers, there’s one per bank of cylinders, are tucked down and away under the body on this model meaning a body-off lift is the only way to access them. The pictures of the old turbo vs. the replacement unit clearly show a major failure. Although not visible, there was a huge amount of slop in the impeller shaft, showing a total failure of the bearings, resulting in oil escaping into the inlet tract of the engine. This usually leads to contamination of the intercooler and intake hoses meaning not only a turbocharger change but also a lot of cleaning to do. Thankfully the hoses are removed anyway, and the radiator/intercooler assembly is easy to get to without the body in the way. The turbocharger itself is nestled at the back of the engine, packed very tightly into place as can be seen.

While jobs like this might appear daunting at first glance, patience and a methodical approach are the order of the day. At Famous Four our technicians are trained and qualified to carry out every job from a routine service to complex jobs such as these, as well as detailed and exacting restoration work. We pride ourselves on quality work at affordable prices and hope we can help you care for your Land Rover or Range Rover.

More information at: https://www.famousfour.co.uk/wshop


New Air Conditioning Re-gas Services

services for all Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles using HFC R134a coolant gasFamous Four have recently acquired equipment and appropriate training in our workshops to allow us to offer air conditioning gas emptying, refilling and leak testing services for all Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles using HFC R134a coolant gas. We also offer air conditioning freshener treatments to freshen and sterilise systems suffering from mould or musty smells.

Take a look at our Workshop section for details on your specific model of Land Rover or Range Rover vehicle, and prices for Air Conditioning re-gas services, as well as a wide range of servicing, repairs and restoration work on vehicles right across the range.

 

 

Identify the air conditioning gas type in your vehicle?

Look for a label similar to the following (images 2, 3 and 4) on the slam panel at the front of the engine bay to identify the air conditioning Gas type in your vehicle.

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VACANCY – Vehicle Parts Sales Person

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This vacancy has been filled, thank you for your interest.


VACANCY – Fully Skilled Motor Vehicle Mechanic

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This vacancy has been filled, thank you for your interest.


Parts help revive Suffix A Range Rover in Switzerland

We were interested to receive this news from a long-term customer in Switzerland;

I send you pictures of my 1972 Range Rover Suffix A which has less than 80,000 km (about 53,000 miles). I purchased it from a garage which has owned this car since 1975, so I’m the third owner from new. It was not looking good before I bought it so I had to do my first part of a long renovation process.

First of all I stripped down all the parts until I could see that there was not much rust to repair. After rust repair the whole car had a repaint. So now I have rebuilt the car as good as possible so that I could use it.  In the springtime I will carry out some service work and rebuild the interior with new parts sourced from Famous Four and to replace the heater matrix and then I hope that I can enjoy my Suffix A Range Rover again.

We wish him many more happy years of Range Rover Classic ownership!


Suffix A Range Rovers depart for the Continent

Today we dispatched two very early Suffix A Range Rover Classics to a client on the continent.

He contacted us with a request for an early vehicle for restoration, and we were able to supply him with two suitable ‘basket cases’ from our stock!

As we restore these cars in-house, we know just how much work will have to go in to his project, but we are sure the end result will be well worth the effort, as the very early examples of the Range Rover Classic are the most sought after.


Workshop Diary – Discovery 3 TDV6 Glow Plugs

A common problem with the 2.7 TDV6 engine as fitted to the Discovery 3 and Range Rover Sport is poor starting on very cold mornings. There are a few things that can cause this: the most common seems to be the Glow Plugs. TDV6 Glow Plugs are situated inside the “V” of the engine and can be quite troublesome to get to.

When the time finally comes to actually changing the Glow Plugs, this is where the fun starts. If you do an internet search regarding the changing of these then you will find all kinds of horror stories regarding the Glow Plugs snapping inside the Cylinder Head. On most occasions these type of stories are untrue or exaggerated due to the fact of poor fitment etc; unfortunately on this occasion the story came true!

Our workshop staff are currently busy removing the Cylinder Heads of a 2.7 TDV6 Discovery 3 to extract the snapped glow plug. This is no easy job, with an almost complete engine top-end strip down required to remove and refit the Cylinder Heads. Once the Cylinder Heads are removed the remains of the Glow Plugs need to be drilled out and the threads inside the Cylinder Head either need to be cleaned or replaced using special inserts.

Once the Cylinder Heads have been refitted, the engine can be rebuilt with new gaskets, seals and belts, including a new timing belt. A long drawn out job to “just” change six Glow Plugs, but one our highly skilled and professional Technicians take in their stride!


Classic Range Rover Seat Coup

We are delighted to have sourced a large stock of front seats for later model year 4 door Classic Range Rovers, which we will be offering for sale to valued customers in the very near future.

All of the seats pictured are new, old stock, genuine Land Rover parts which have been unavailable for many years. They will undoubtedly be of great interest to restorers or owners of Range Rovers from the 1990s decade, to be used as replacements for worn or broken originals.

We will consider selling just the covers, or the seat electrics, so do feel free to contact us to see if we can help you with your specific requirements. Watch our website and our ebay pages for listings of individual seats.