Good afternoon, Autopians! Your favorite Land Rover enthusiast is back for the weekend to enlighten you just as Charles Dickens would have if he was still kickin’. We’re straying away from discussing the Discovery and moving up a few tax brackets into the Range Rover. Specifically, about one hilarious advertisement for the 1996 P38 Range Rover.
In case you don’t obsess over these gas-guzzling, oil-leaking, self-destructing British SUVs as I do, the P38 Range Rover was the second generation, coming after the long run of the Range Rover Classic. The P38 was released for the 1996 model year and was produced until 2002, predeceasing the L322 Range Rover. It was a beautiful, classic evolution of the boxy RR we all knew and loved, and introduced air suspension into a Land Rover for the first time. A headache to come for all future Land Rovers! I fell in love with the P38 Range Rover after its appearance in the Lindsay Lohan movie, The Parent Trap, where the father of the girls drove one painted in British Racing Green.
Moving on to the advertisement. It pictures a silver P38 in a bed of rocks peering into a dry desert. Possibly Nevada, or New Mexico? I could not find any information from Land Rover on a location. If you squint hard enough, you might be able to see an old RV emitting some smoke and a Pontiac Aztek nearby with a cranky old bald man who’s yelling at a skinny young guy. That’s a Breaking Bad reference for all of you kids out there.
Why do I like this advertisement so much? It’s the copywriting. The very first line reads, “What better way to keep track of your investments than with a Range Rover 4.0 SE?” and tells us everything we need to know. Investments? Land Rover seems to have a particular buyer in mind, the likes of a wealthy Wall Street stock trader or a finance bro straight out of UPenn’s Wharton business school. And of course, you can’t miss the oh-so-smug gag line stamped in bold across the ad? “Some Range Rover owners still check their own oil.” Their “own oil” being their oil fields, of course. Because wealthy, which is pretentious enough. But the pretension thickens with the implication that checking one’s own oil is a task far too plebian for a Land-Rover-driving Master of the Universe. I assure you, P38 owners should absolutely be checking their oil frequently, whether they’re such salt of the earth that they do it themselves in bespoke waxed-cotton coveralls, or they dispatch the top man at Land Rover Manhattan to ascertain the status of the vital fluid. But the pretentiousness does not stop there. Check out the last lines of the description.
“But with everything it offers, the Range Rover 4.0 SE may be the perfect company car. Especially if you own the company.”
Damn! I guess you had to have owned your own business if you wanted to scoop one off the showroom floor in 1996. Oh, and bespoke waxed-cotton coveralls or no, you must not check your oil. Do not even attempt. Don’t be a part of those “some” owners who still do. You lead a life of unsuccess and poverty. Go buy a Toyota Land Cruiser at that point, you peasant. Land Rover will hunt you down and retract your P38 and leave you somewhere in the desert, probably the one pictured in the advertisement. This advertisement is hilariously pretentious, ostentatious, and pompous. It’s so Land Rover. That’s why I love it. Self-awareness, folks! It goes a long way, I think.
Top image credit: (vehicle) Land Rover; (inset) cyrano/stock.adobe.com
What an odd selection of dealers. Alabama, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. It’s like they threw darts at a map while blindfolded. Probably a co-op ad, now that I think about it.
“Some Range Rover owners still check their own oil.”
“The oil puddle under the Range Rover hasn’t gotten any bigger so we should be fine to drive it to the store.”
Your description makes me think it needs more oil.
Since Nevada has almost no oil fields it must be some other state pictured there.
This type of ad for luxury products was pretty common in the mid-90s. Rolex leaned heavily on the same thing in its print ads back then, before it switched to “these watches are very professional, not a luxury item at all.”
A big thing was these ads were NOT found in every magazine.
The internet democratized a lot of things, but especially how products are positioned.
Rob – I think this is a perfectly valid advertising point which may indeed sway some potential buyers. If you make this a company car you can charge ALL the repairs and maintenance to the company. Another win with that strategy is that you can depreciate it down to zero over five years, and so its worthlessness as a resale vehicle is not a problem.
That add had nothing to do with Land Rover. More to do with Land Rover America. Not that this distinction is an improvement…
Where as the Classic was almost reliable, a simple construction with easy to DIY electrics, etc, the P38 is the epitome of everything bad with Range Rovers.
Would be really cool to see the ad without all the jpg compression then, so we could actually read it, and laugh with you.
–But I really appreciate the Internet constantly reminding me never to get a Land Rover or a Harley Davidson. So thanks 😎
(I don’t think it’s the double names that does it: Ownership of Lea Francis, Gordon Keeble or Hispano Suiza seems to be without too much fuss)
You might need to include David with those kids. Despite Skylar White driving a Grand Wagoneer, DT doesn’t strike me as a guy who watches much television.
predeceasing instead of predecessing, good one 😉
Predecease is a word, predecess isn’t.
“Preceding” would have been perfectly cromulent.
Good article…thought we’d have more articles today on “March 32nd” so just wanted to say congratulations on 1 year since starting site! I love this site a lot especially Shitbox Showdown & David “Rusty” Tracy!!!
“Self-awareness, folks! It goes a long way, I think.”
Perception’s a tool that’s pointed on both ends.
Yes, pointed targeting of the nouveau riche has a cost.
I imagine it boosted G-Wagen sales.
I’ve owned a P38A in green. I checked my own oil – it was often on the floor. Transmission oil had to be checked shortly after putting it in gear, from memory.
Was this like when BMW removed the dipstick from their cars? Are you supposed to be at a dealer for repairs so frequently you don’t ever need to check your oil yourself?
The Range Rover Classic had air suspension as well, in its final years. Wouldn’t say that the P38 introduced it. https://media.landrover.com/news/2017/01/48-years-range-rover-peerless-design-and-engineering-innovation-through-every#:~:text=In%201989%20the%20luxury%20SUV,and%20automatic%20electronic%20air%20suspension.
Good Morning Rob. 🙂
I entirely agree with “pretentious, ostentatious, and pompous.”
Are you an English major?
I sure am! Dual major in English Literature and Secondary Education and a minor in Music.
So are my mother and son. But I’m a good guesser at least. Haha
Autopian music video coming soon! Can’t wait.
Or a high strung criminal defense attorney, although he didn’t work in “outrageous”