Meet Grace and Her $500 Land Rover

Grace Howard is just like most other college kids: broke. But she’s the daughter of Land Rover-appreciating parents, and one that knows how to turn a wrench. So, when it was time to have her own vehicle, she went with a non-running Rover sitting in the family yard. A couple years of work, and Disco, as she calls it, was ready to roll.

Howard is a regular fixture at Overland Expo, the regional gathering of all-things adventure vehicle related. For nearly 10 years she’s been teaching kids classes during the expo, all the while soaking up mechanical and overland knowledge like a sponge. Because of COVID-19, Overland Expo was virtual-only this year, and Howard made a video about her rig, how she got it for so cheap, and how she’s built it out for overland travel.

We got in touch with Howard over e-mail to learn more about her Disco and how she became so involved in the Overland community.

AJ: Year, make, and model of your rig?
GH: 1995 Land Rover Discovery 1

Does the vehicle have a name?
I haven’t found the right name yet so I just call it Disco.

Years owned?
It was purchased on November 29, 2017, but since it had a blown head gasket when we bought it, it sat in our yard until March 2019 when we got it running.

How did you get it?
My parents saw an ad on Facebook for it. We were originally going to fix the head gaskets and flip it, but then I got into an accident in my mom’s Range Rover Classic. I didn’t even feel the accident and it did minimal damage to her car but ripped the entire back end of the other car off. The police officer called the car a tank. My mom decided to arm me with the “tank” sitting in the yard.

How much did you pay for it?

How much did you have to fix to get it into shape?
I’ve replaced the head gaskets, power steering system, steering linkage, rotary coupler, heater core, AC/Heat blower switch, radiator.

I have added or modified:
• Rear bumper with a swing away for my RotoPax gas and water cans
• Junkyard leather front and rear seats.
• Front lights
• Rear ladder and step
• 2-inch lift and bigger tires
• Ham radio antenna. I still need a radio.

You do all that work yourself?
Yes, I have been helping my dad work on my mom’s car since I was little. When it was time to fix the head gaskets on my car it was natural for me to do it myself. My mom and I spent a couple of months pulling the heads off, getting them machined, replacing everything in the cooling system, then putting it all back together with new head gaskets. The rear-most bolt on the right-hand cylinder head is horrible to get a torque wrench on.

How long have you been involved with the kids program at Overland Expo?
I have been teaching kids classes at the Overland Expo since I was 10 in 2011. When I was 13, I became the Kids Adventure Program Director and created a program “by kids, for kids.” I either teach the classes or recruit others to teach them. Classes typically include knot tying, navigation, cooking and others. In the past year or so, I have been trying to take the classes up a level and more oriented towards vehicles, with classes like tire changing and hand winching. We have even built a bridge out of logs and drove a Ural motorcycle across it. I hope to do more of this in the future.

What’s your favorite thing about Land Rovers?
I love the Land Rover community. In Arizona, we have a really great enthusiast club, the Arizona Land Rover Owners, which has been around for 25 years. We have a good number of members that started out with Land Rovers and have stayed in the club even after moving on to Fords, Toyotas, Subarus, and even a G Wagen. They stay because of the camaraderie. The club is welcoming to newbies and old hands, women, kids and everything in between. Two years ago I became a trail leader for the club and took training from Camel Trophy veteran Jim West. Everyone is really friendly, and it is just a fun group to be around.

You can follow Grace’s adventures on Instagram.



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