I knew I wanted a Land Rover in August this year after taking several trips on the Golden Road to photograph moose, guided by my good friend and colleague John Holyoke. John doesn’t own a rover, but I knew the dirt road that stretches for 97 miles in Maine would have to be traversed by something more than my wife’s 2006 Subaru Legacy. Needless to say a Land Rover was at the top of the list.
I was reaffirmed that I wanted one after shooting a story about Elliotsville Plantation Inc.’s plans to open up hunting and several thousand acres to recreation just east of Baxter State Park. Our vehicle that day was a Disco SE7 driven by David Farmer, a former BDN blogger and current senior adviser for Congressman Mike Michaud.
His golden Rover carried four of us from Bangor on Interstate 95 all the way to the area east of Mt. Katahdin, where we picked up another gentleman and travelled rough dirt roads the rest of the day. I estimate we had at least a half ton of woodsy men in the vehicle for much of the day. I was impressed.
I started replying to Disco ads that looked promising on Craigslist and Uncle Henry’s all over the state. Many were in the 1998 to 2004 range. There were also a lot being sold for parts and with the usual “Maine rust” from our salted roads.
One that caught my interest was a 2001 forest green Discovery that advertised “no leaky sunroofs”, because it didn’t have any, and boasted less than 100,000 miles on the engine. To add to that, no rust!
I contacted the seller and took out the cash. I met the man from Bar Harbor at Dysarts in Hermon and exclaimed that I wanted the vehicle. He was on a trip to Boston and on his return we’d meet in Bar Harbor and make the exchange.
The following day my wife and I drove to Bar Harbor and did some hiking in Acadia to pass the time. After several texts back and forth with the seller he said he was running a little behind and wouldn’t make it until around 6 p.m. 6 p.m. rolled around and no sign of our salesmen. In fact when I did reach him he said he was two hours away. Frustrated, at that point we headed back to Bangor, I called off the deal and we went home. I still don’t think he’s sold the Rover to this day.
After I checked out several rust buckets, one with no floor, I finally found an ad for a 98 Discovery in Belgrade selling for $2,000. I checked it out, gave her a spin with my wife in tow. I turned my head when I saw the soggy engine bottom underneath. I squinted to turn the 177,000 miles on the odometer into 77,000 miles and ignored the various scratches and dents throughout the body. I wanted this Rover no matter what.
I put in an offer of $1,600 and was thrown a rebuttal of $1,800.
The deal was done in a messy, grease splashed garage. With cash exchanged, taxes paid and Maine temp plates put on, I was on the road. My first stop… the gas station.