The Check Engine light came on again on the SCM 2000 Land Rover Discovery II. (You might ask if they ever actually stay out.)

When I asked our Rover guru, Doug Shipman of Ship’s Mechanical about it, he suggested I get a code reader. “Once I see what code it’s throwing, we can proceed with the best solution. In any event, you can clear the code for the time being. And chances are whatever is going on is not going to affect the drivability of the rig.”

Jeff Sabatini, SCM’s Executive Editor and one of my stalwart collector car enablers, pointed me to an Autel CAN OBDII code reader (under $20 from Amazon and delivered the next day). We’ll put it to use soon.

Part of dealing with my changed physical capabilities has been learning what parts of the car club community are most important to me and figuring out how I can stay connected. There’s a Rover Club Fun Run in Tillamook Forest coming up in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

The Rover gang has been very good to me, Bradley, and Alexandra. Our journey began with a Disco 1, purchased from SCMer Dave Martindale at a Silver Auction. Next was a Series III 88 we bought from Glen and Jan Enright and sold on to SCM alum Colin Comer for his father to use. After that was a 1989 Ranger Rover Classic we acquired from SCMer Jeffrey Stout in Manhattan Beach, who said he once used it to take Sir Stirling Moss to breakfast. Then there was the D90 which we found on eBay in Connecticut. It took two years of sorting by Shipman to get it right, adding an AR rear air-locker as a part of the process. Once it was dialed in and the operator (that being me) developed some off-road skills, it became a formidable machine.

I took a couple of off-road intensive courses from Bill Burke, and they were an eye-opener. At campfires after long days of learning how to pick just the right route through complicated terrain, he would regale us with tales of how disabled or flipped-over 55-ton (that is 110,000-lbs) M1 Abrams tanks were recovered during the Iraq war.

That made pulling our 3,500-lb Defender back onto the road after an operator error seem like child’s play to him.

The D90 remains the favorite rig of both Alex and Bradley.

Alex cut her off-road teeth on the primitive leaf-spring SIII 88 with its antique 2.5L four-cylinder gasoline engine. The D90, with coil-springs at each corner (and drop cones to guide the springs back onto their perches after particularly severe articulation), along with its 5-speed, turned double-black-diamond trails into easy ones.

The D90 has moved on to our good friend, neighbor, and enthusiast Dr. Ed Frank. He knows that if I regain the use of my left leg for shifting, I (along with my children) will be first in line to buy it back from him.

In preparation for future club runs, we’ve kitted the Disco out nicely. I had Doug install the proper center-differential lock linkage, steel bumpers front and rear (the stock plastic ones are ridiculous off road), and a set of rock sliders – all from Rovers North.

In addition, we had Doug install a power outlet in the rear and purchased a high-capacity electric air pump so we can restore the tires to proper highway pressure after deflating them for off-road purposes.

The Disco will never have the raw feeling and capabilities of our competition prepped RHD D90 200 turbo diesel that came over from England. But with these mods, the Disco will be capable of medium-duty trails.

It’s all about the use we get out of our vehicles. Every one of my cars and trucks offers a driving experience that is unique, authentic, and memorable.

I find myself in like company with SCM contributors Steve Serio and Paul Hageman in terms of sharing our affection for this marque.

If a car or rig doesn’t change your life, what’s the point in owning it?



  1. Keith –
    Words well spoken!
    Made me wonder what joy owners get out of their ‘garage queens’ …. but then again realized we each find joy and beauty in our own way. My joy comes from the many miles I’m able to drive with a smile on my face. I only wish there were more hours in each day and opportunities to be on the road.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Lance Dublin

  2. Keith.
    As I sat at Bonham’s today watching their Friday Carmel auction and a 1967 Porsche 911 receive bids in the high Stratosphere of near 300K , followed by even crazier numbers for the next lot of early 911’s, it made me think that owning another one at any price , would not change my life again !
    Your blog reminds me that “Less is More” !…
    It certainly applies this week during the crazy, Really crazy prices I am seeing at the auctions during Pebble Beach Week !….definitely the prices now for most classic cars can change your life and remind you that “ Less is more “ ! Rand