The Next Pangaea Project Vehicle – ’04 Disco II

I have to be honest, I love driving the Bio Bonatti Defender 110. It’s drop dead sexy. Even when driving the streets of downtown Denver, it looks like it just rolled off of the African Savannah; its extremely capable off-road; its ready for a trip around the world at the drop of the hat; and it does this all while driving on soybeans. But despite the best efforts of the Melvill & Moon seat covers, the Dynamat flooring and all of the other expedition goodies, it’s not the most comfortable vehicle in the world. It’s cold in the winter, its hot in the summer, and despite the quiet new Goodyear MT/R with Kevlar tires, its loud on the road. A guide in Africa once quipped “There are two man-made objects you can see from space–the great wall of China, and the door gaps on a Land Rover Defender”. In the Defender, in any Defender for that matter, you’re a part of the environment throughout your trip. That’s a part of its charm as much as it is a drawback.

That’s not to say I don’t like the Defender—I really, really do like it. I once explained the truck at the beginning of an expedition this way: “At the end of the day, you will have logged an ungodly amount of miles, you’ll be tired, you’ll be dirty, you’ll be cold (it was a winter trip). But when we get to our campsite, you’ll take five steps away from the truck, look back and ask ‘When can we do it again?’ ”

Despite all of that, there are times when I yearn for a more comfortable vehicle. A more practical vehicle. Its not that I want my butt cosseted by whale penis leather interior, but on some expeditions a little more comfort is a good thing. That’s where Pangaea’s new expedition rig comes in. I can admit that I deeply regret selling off the Camel truck, and I’ve been lusting for a replacement Discovery for quite some time. Despite the simplicity of the mid-90s Discoveries, I decided to try something a bit more modern and a bit bigger. Enter the 2004 Land Rover Discovery—widely regarded as the best-of-breed of all of the Land Rover Discovery vehicles (1994-2004). On paper, this truck has it all: a 4.6 liter V8, the engine they should have put in the Disco from the beginning; Traction Control System for added traction off road; a center diff lock (the only full year it was offered from the factory on a DII); and 15.5 cubic feet of additional rear cargo capacity over the Disco I.

All of these features combined to make it the most all-around capable Discovery to date to have rolled off the production lines at Solihull. Its not hyperbole to say that this truck is the most capable Discovery off road, while still being the most comfortable one on road.

I had spent the past six months searching to no avail for a clean, low mileage example of one. My criteria were a khaki interior, S or SE trim, no ACE and 16″ wheels. Seemed simple enough, but after months of looking I was feeling discouraged. Then one day in a fit of frustration, I called Land Rover Sales Professional and expedition consultant Pete Sweetser. I called explaining what I was looking for and hoping he could keep an eye out at the wholesale auto auctions. In a stroke of serendipitous fortune, his response was “I had a vehicle just like that show up at the dealership two days ago”. My immediate response: “I’ll take it.”

This truck has been well taken care of, fitted with lots of great kit including a rare Safety Devices Highlander roof rack, front nudge bar, front and rear lamp guards, enough auxiliary lighting to land a jumbo jet, as well as lots of other goodies.

In just the first few days of ownership, we logged well over 2,000 miles and we’re already duly impressed. In keeping with Pangaea’s environmental consciousness, we intend to purchase carbon credits to offset the output from running on “dead dinosaurs” as we like to call them.

Pangaea has some big plans for this truck, so keep an eye out in the upcoming months as we outfit this truck for our expeditions.

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