The 1981 UAB Range Rover Special

In January 1981, Utrecht, Netherlands based Land Rover dealer UAB presented their own Range Rover Special. But how special was it?

Not long after the original Range Rover was introduced in 1970, many car conversion specialists sought ways to ‘improve’ an already great vehicle, resulting in some wacky creations. The UAB Range Rover Special was probably inspired by the succes of UK Range Rover converter Wood & Pickett, and still looks handsome after 40 years. It was marketed in The Netherlands and in German speaking countries.

Golden alloys
Some extras on the Range Rover Special were taken from the Unipart accessories brochure, others where sourced elsewhere or specifically built for the Dutch Special. The paintwork, a non-Range Rover black with silver coachline, looks like it took inspiration from the Sunbeam Lotus. The alloy wheels, shod with the standard Michelin 205 R16 tyres, are 6.00 x 16 inch and could be specified in silver, gold or black. The grill featuring two extra headlamps and seven vertical slots looks identical to the one Wood & Pickett offered on their conversion. The optional chromed roofrack is as nice looking as it is useless.

Picnic table
Inside the brushed bronze velour upholstery was left untouched. The steering wheel was of the leather variant and the doors had pockets sewn to the lower half. The huge side windows were electically operated. Most interesting is the cubbybox which doubled as a picnic table, a detail that Land Rover should have adopted for series production.
On the mechanical side of things not much was altered. The 4-speed gearbox was complimented by a Fairey overdrive, the rear springs were uprated and handling was improved by a front end sway bar. The Special also featured cruise control and optional electric mirrors.

The UAB Range Rover Special was fitted as standard with:

  • Special grill to accomodate two extra headlights
  • Head- and rearlight protection
  • Electric windows
  • Electronic ignition
  • Silicon plug leads
  • Platinum plugs
  • Cruise control
  • Side mounted rubber protection strips
  • Heavy duty rear springs
  • Landi Hartog LPG installation
  • Fairey overdrive
  • Philips Digital AC 890 stereo radio-cassette recorder
  • Door pockets
  • Seat pockets
  • Vacuummeter

Optional extras were:

  • Dog guard
  • Two way sunroof with lighting
  • Airconditioning
  • Roofrack
  • Extra wide tyres
  • Wheel arch extensions
  • Bullbar
  • Gun rack
  • Saddle rack
  • Electric mirrors

Any survivors?
The photo of GP-94-GR was taken in front of Het Heerenlogement, still active as a restaurant and theater in the town of Beusichem. UAB (Utrechts Auto Bedrijf) started dealing Land Rovers in 1965 and sadly seized business in 2016 after the introduction of the dual brand strategy by JLR, which forced Land Rover dealers to add Jaguar to their portfolio and vice versa. There are no Dutch records for the registration GP-94-GR, which suggests the UAB Range Rover Special was either scrapped or exported. In my 25 years of researching anything Land Rover, I have never encountered another example. Quite special then.

Ronald Janus
De Autoboerderij

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