Project P38: Exterior Appeal

Project P38 gets an Auto Genie pro-valet, Powerful UK stainless steel spotlight bar, Britpart 4×4 100W Halogen spotlights & headlight guards  

One of the major attractions to the P38 Range Rover is its classic, boxy, old fashioned (some might say, classic) good looks. To my mind, it’s one of the best, most iconic looking Land Rovers ever built – boxy, tough, square-edged and stylish… timeless stuff. I like to think of it as the last of the ‘real’ Range Rovers, before they got a bit Cheshire WAG on our asses. It’s got the presence and aesthetics to be at right home in front of a luxury hotel and also buried deep in mud down a green lane – carrying both tasks off with equal aplomb.

As such – and with it being in the best colour, being a top-spec Vogue with nice 18-inch rims, sunroof and high-end badging, not to mention coming with a few choice modifications already (clear lights, colour coding and the DIY drilled front grille) – I didn’t want to ruin the standard, classic good looks. But I was keen to make my mark on Project P38 aesthetically, while also adding further features and practicality.

It could be argued that the amazing Janspeed stainless steel exhaust has already improved the rear end look of the P38 (whilst also boosting the acoustics and performance no end). And the excellent Marshal rubber also sets off the 18-inch Vogue rims nicely too. Finally, the existing spec uprated drilled brake discs are also a nice visual touch, to those in the know (whilst also being darn good at stopping the big 2T tank).

But, there’s always room for improvement, so I’ve done a very simple, front-end dominated bit of fettling – with some Britpart spotlights, mounted on a Powerful UK stainless steel spotlight bar and a set of Britpart light guards: Simple, but hopefully effective stuff.

And, having seen what The Auto Genie was capable of on the P38’s interior valet in the last feature, I booked big Stuart Staples for a full exterior valet too – working his magic, to make Project P38 shine. Read on for the detail…

Auto Genie Exterior Valet

As with our interior valet in the last instalment, I’ve employed the professional services of big Stu, aka “the Auto Genie.” He’s based near me in Norfolk, but works all over the East of England (and will travel further, with travel expenses covered). He’s a true petrol head and a lovely chap to boot. And he really knows his trade – taking the notion of car cleaning to a whole other level. But fear not… we’re not talking car detailing here – anal, awkward, arguably insane OCD cleaning that costs hundreds of pounds, so you can show your shiny undersides at a show – just pukka, proper, professional, effective valeting, with dramatic results and also serving to make car cleaning easy in forthcoming months.

Ever since Stu did the interior valet, he’s been dying to get his hands on the Range Rover’s exterior – claiming the paintwork will be unrecognisable when he’s finished. Challenge on…

And eight hot, sweaty, hard grafting Summertime hours and £135 later, Stu wasn’t lying – the end result is utterly incredible. It’s a cliché, but Project P38 really is like a different vehicle now. The previously dark browny-grey pseudo-black paint is now a deep, luxurious, dark and superbly glimmering, shining, rich, glossy metallic black – like the clearest, darkest night sky. It probably looks better now than it did rolling off production 13 years ago. Who’d have thunk it? I am stunned how good it has come up.

Stu says: “The stated priority was the retrieval of bright paint finish and ease of maintenance in coming months. Some of the old exterior plastics had faded really badly too, so it was agreed to tackle the job as I saw fit within the time frame available. Due to the extremely hot (30C) weather, large surface area of panels and black paintwork I washed, rinsed, decontaminated, rinsed and dried one panel at a time, for the best results. This saved time and proved to be a safer technique in these conditions and with this kind of car. The time saved meant that I could apply more time to the polishing and sealing of the paint, which has come up really, really well. It’s like a different car now.”

The time, effort and focus Stu puts into his carefully planned work is incredible. And his work ethic and passion really pays off with truly outstanding results. You might think cleaning a car is just a hose off, bucket of hot water, shammy and maybe a wax if you’re feeling extravagant. But you’d be wrong: SO wrong. The Auto Genie way is another level altogether.

Everyone I know (and even a few randoms in the street and at the petrol station) has commented on how incredible the P38 looks, since the Auto Genie cast his spell on it – even my V8-intolerant brother! And when I took the car back to John Kemp to show them, comments were extremely positive indeed. People are suitably (and justifiably) impressed.

And I’m chuffed to bits – it looks great and, perhaps best of all, it’s now an absolute doddle to wash – requiring just a quick drizzle with the hose and pat dry with a microfibre cloth if it’s from basic on-road use, or just a jet wash and pat dry when it’s been caked in mud from of-roading. This is the amazing gift of an Auto Genie valet that just keeps on giving.

So, whether you choose to book the Auto Genie because you’re lazy, crap at car cleaning and want your Land Rover to look great (like me), or because you want it looking its best in an attempt to get the best money you can for it at sake time… you really cant loose. £135 might sound a lot for an immaculate car, but it’s not when you see the transformational results for yourself and reap the benefits for months to come – either from a (quick) top re-sale price, or just super-easy cleaning and a Land Rover to admire on the driveway. And self-confessed OCD Stu will take on any car (or indeed Land Rover) in any condition – the muckier, the better. Book him today and set him a challenge he’ll relish. I can’t recommend his work highly enough! He’s a genius!

Britpart Spotlights & Powerful UK Stainless Steel Spotlight Bar

Project P38’s main beam was already pretty powerful, but having always been a fan of a spotlighted Rangey and ever keen to bring daylight to nightime (especially for late night green lane excursions), I felt a good set of twin spots would be a nice visual and practical addition to Project P38.

As per, my first port of call was my local Britpart dealer. Their gear has been so good so far – great products, great value and speedy, expert customer service. And there was no difference here too. A quick call led me to a set of eight-inch, black spots, with a cool black and white ‘4×4’ logo on them and 100-watt, high power halogen lamps. They fit all 12 volt vehicles, are easy installation, have universal fitting capability and come with an armoured cable and fitted plastic stone guards. The only thing they were short of was the wiring kit – but for £70, who can argue?

The build quality of the spots is absolutely superb (they feel hefty and good quality and the armoured cable is super tough) and they are just the right size I felt – big enough not to look daft and not so big they block the (already over-worked) radiator. And I really like the black plastic stone guards, which mirror the light guards (see on) and fit in nicely with the (now shiny) black paint work.

Of course, you can’t just plonk them on, so another trip to my Land Rover specialists of choice – John Kemp at Wymondham – was on the cards to get them fitted, wired up and working right.

To facilitate this, I also needed a spotlight-mounting bar to get the new lights onto the P38. And, after endless internet trawling, I stumbled across Powerful UK’s superb website – I was chuffed to discover they had a very neat, mildly blingy and totally rust resistant stainless steel spotlight bar – designed specifically to fit the P38 (they also do other Land Rover marques), so I gave them a call.

Simon at Powerful UK could not have been more helpful. And despite it being a product he’s less familiar with than most of his many, he dug deep and found all I needed to know about it and got it posted out for next day delivery – complete with fitting guide. And all for £66! What more can you ask for? Perfection.

Up at John Kemp (where I’m now on first name terms with all the lovely staff) “super nice” Steve (as he is now known) was there to greet me and the P38 – with a look of relief when he realised it was lighter duties this time, rather than heavy duty suspension or exhaust fitting work.

Showing his (& John Kemp’s) usual attention to detail, care and know-how, Steve set to with the fitting. Off came the front grille, the OE fog lights were disconnected and the front bumper was eased off. Steve then checked the clearance behind the chunky lights on the grille to make sure they would fit without contact. Then he mocked-up the spot bar (and lights) on the removed bumper – carefully measuring and marking the point he needed to drill through, to reach the bar mounting point on the metal bumper frame below. It was then just a question of drilling down, putting the bar in place with the provided bolts, checking it was on secure and not catching anywhere, then re-attaching the grille, front bumper and fog light pins. Bar on, and looking good!

Steve then set to work fitting the spots onto the bar (simples!) and started the process of wiring up. He could have just wired it up to the main beam switchgear, but, showing typical care and thought, he chose to set up a brand new earth and live feed from a new relay triggered from the main beam off the OE headlights, so as not to overload the OE wiring – very sensible with the P38’s delicate electrics. The freshly created wiring was run from the spotlights, through the grille to the (fused) relay, which was mounted neatly on the bodywork by the battery.

The grille was re-fixed, spotlights tightened up on the new mounting bar and adjusted to the right angle and clear of any body contact and it was time to “go nuclear” with “full beam” (Alan Partridge fans). And boy did the good looking, 100-watt beasts deliver, even in a lit workshop, during the day – whilst sitting pretty on their sturdy, stainless steel bar. Bright and very cool.

This is another awesome, thorough job from John Kemp and big thanks also to Britparts and Powerful UK: The superbly installed spotlights look fabulous on their blingy bar and they are comedy bright, bright, bright: It’s like the Blackpool illuminations going on when you hit main beam at night. I love them – breaking into spontaneous laughter every time I use them on a dark country lane, of which there are many in Norfolk! Happy days. I’m just praying someone cuts me up soon (rare in the intimidating P38!), so I can give them a temporary retina blinding now! Practicality has never been so much fun!

Britpart light guards (front)

Protecting Project P38’s valuable headlights from accidental damage – either from stones on-road or branches etc. off-road – is the aim of these rough, matt black, drill-fit light guards from Britparts, retailing at a good value £70. They are a popular modification for the P38, and other Land Rovers, looking good and serving to shield from damage.

They give the P38 a rougher, tougher, more off-road than soft-road look, which I really like. I had planned to fit the rears too, but these were not in stock. And, in the final analysis, I’m happy to just fit the fronts – the rear is less prone to damage after all and the rear end looks ace standard anyhow.

Fitting (up at John Kemp again) was a simple enough process – with the only really challenging part being making sure you line up the supplied fitting template in the correct position before you drill through the front wings for the light guard mounting screws. Measure, and measure again is the name of the game here, which is Steve’s way anyhow, so no worries.

Once again, the front grille needs to come off and the far ends need drilling out, to fit the plastic bungs for the (provided) self-tapping screws to (initially, loosely) mount the light guards on at the front, using the provided (slightly fiddly) brackets. Then we offered up the light guards to the wing, to line them up (using the template), before drilling through the front wings (nervously!), to allow us to punch the rivet nuts through the holes, to then mount the provided brackets off.

With brackets in position, the light guards were lined-up neatly and square to the headlights, then all the screws were tightened up good and snug. Simples really.

And I’m really chuffed with the overall look of them. They have given Project P38 an even more masculine, purposeful look – particularly married to the similar style and colour guarded spotlights. They look great, were simple to fit, are superb value and have added more protection and practicality. Another great modification, sorted!

Project P38 Exterior – “done!” – and looking smart, even if I say so myself (not that I had much to do with the actual work! I’m an ideas man!).


Stuart Staples, Auto Genie (valeting)

Tel: 07775 856131

Paul Myers @ Britpart (spotlights & light guards)

Tel: 01588 674200

Simon @ Powerful UK (stainless steel spotlight bar)

Tel: 01285-706112 or 0845-4664444

John Kemp (& Shaun & Steve)  @ John Kemp Land Rover (fitting)

Tel: 01953 601440

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