COAL: 2006 Range Rover Supercharged – How to Flip a Whip

A Range Rover on a rollback? Sounds like a punchline to me!


For anyone not in the know, when I use the term “whip,” I mean it in the slang, informal sense: an automobile, particularly a flashy luxury one. The Drive did an entire article on how this term came to be, and it’s quite interesting. As for this particular whip, I cannot specifically remember when I first paid attention to the 2003-2012 “L322” Range Rover.

It might have been in 2006, when my optometrist showed up with a brand-new Supercharged one. (He would not be the last gay optometrist I’d ever have with a taste for British 4x4s). His was either dark blue or black, with the light oyster interior.

I also recall, around that same year, ordering a bunch of car brochures from several automakers’ websites, one of which was the 2006 Land Rover lineup, including the L322.

And then, in Summer 2009, I remember getting up close and personal with an L322. I was out with my parents, looking for a new family truckster to replace the one my mom had just totaled. On the lot of a new-car dealer was a gently used Range Rover, and I (age 16) climbed inside and started pressing all the buttons. I remember the radio having a button with a music-note icon (♫) on it, which meant it had to be a 2006-or-newer model with the Ford/Jaguar era radio, and not a 2003-2005 with the BMW radio. I also remember it being a pale-ish green color that Land Rover calls Giverny Green Metallic.

Giverny Green. Not a bad color (though this is an earlier 2003-2005/BMW-era one)


From then on, I was always kind of smitten with it and I learned a lot about the L322 and Range Rovers in general. Especially when, ten years later, I got a web development client that was an independent Land Rover shop, and that performed no end of work on aging L322s. Around that same time (late 2019/early 2020), I had just signed the contract on my first house. I already had the problematic 2004 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas, the slightly less-problematic 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500 SL, and my daily, a new 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium 4MOTION.

So how, then, did I end up with a fourth car, and a Range Rover at that?

Well…I must have been playing around on Facebook Marketplace (we all know how dangerous that is) and saw a Range Rover pop up. This one was Jet Black, with the Ivory interior and the piano black trim. It was the desirable 2006+ model, and not the BMW-era 2003-2005. It was a Supercharged, meaning that it employed a 4.2-liter supercharged Jaguar V8 that put out a stonking 400 HP. And…it was $2,000. Why? Well, the description revealed that it had a bad transmission. Or, at least, one that was acting up. It wouldn’t shift beyond third gear. Still, for whatever reason, I thought it would be a fun project and so immediately sent a DM to the seller, arranging to come to look at it that day.

This was the feature photo of the ad. Already, she looks rough


Turned out I was talking to the son of the car’s owner. That owner was a middle-aged and seasoned independent mechanic, who owned a transmission shop on a particularly seedy block of town. Particularly interesting, he seemed to specialize in rebuilding the very ZF 6HP24 transmission that the 2006 Range Rover used, as well as a slew of other cars. And he had a dealer license and sold cars on the side, mostly BMWs. The side of his property was littered with BMW E65 7 Series’ in various states of disassembly.

But…I was more concerned with the Range Rover itself, which was in a sorrier state than the Facebook pictures ever could have conveyed. The windscreen was cracked. The A-pillar finisher was missing on one side and badly sun-damaged on the other. A tire was flat. One taillight was the wrong color, and both were missing their protective outer lenses. The passenger mirror’s auto-dim feature had failed, and the fluid had leaked out between the layers of glass. The driver’s seat was torn. It was listing to one side like a boat getting ready to roll.

Oh, and it had 189,000 miles on it.

Another photo from the ad. Note the busted and mismatched taillight clusters


That didn’t stop me, though, and perhaps it should have. I still wanted to take a ride in it, and see how it drove and performed, transmission aside. The mechanic let me take it for a spin. It started up just fine, stopped just fine, and indeed got all the way up to third gear before it displayed “Transmission Fault” and gave up on upshifting. The air suspension even rose and lowered just fine, although it still had an inexplicably crooked ride height.

After that, I asked the mechanic a few questions? How did you get it? He got it from a friend. Do you know anything about its history? He said he didn’t, but that he could use his dealer account to pull a Carfax for me. And the most salient question: If you’re an expert on transmissions yourself, specifically this transmission, why wouldn’t you just fix it? He explained that he was hard-up for cash and that business had been pretty slow, so the Range Rover had to go. At that point, after looking at the Carfax, I decided it couldn’t be that bad of an idea. I had a hunch it wouldn’t be ruinously expensive to fix, and I had an ace up my sleeve: the aforementioned web-design client, who knew these cars inside and out.

I offered him $1,500; he countered at $1,900, and we shook hands at $1,800. I returned with a cashier’s check and Austin, my best friend. The mechanic wrote up a bill of sale, gave me a temporary tag, and the car was mine.

What a view! (This is after it had been fixed)


I limped the car the 14 or so miles home, and Austin followed me in his comparatively bulletproof 2016 Lexus RX 450h. We stuck to the side and neighborhood roads all the while. And even though the Range Rover very much continued to limit itself to third gear, with the ever-present “Transmission Fault” warning in the instrument panel, it otherwise drove fine. It was a that point that I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the design. I fell in love with the seating position. I fell in love with the cushy air ride and the careful but effective blend of rugged and luxury. It truly felt like the king of all SUVs. And this one? Well, it just dropped its crown.

The first thing to do was figure out what was going on with the transmission, and that involved checking the fluid. The 2006-2012 Range Rover had the ZF 6HP transmission, which graced a number of longitude-RWD-based cars of the day, along with there being a license-built version from Ford and a special longitude-transaxle one for some VW Group cars. What they all had in common was that they lacked a transmission dipstick. Instead, you got the vehicle up to temperature, and accessed the fill plug. If you took it off and a small amount of fluid weeped out, the fluid was at the right level. That also allowed you to check the fluid’s condition.

Would it have been too much to ask for a dipstick at the top? Evidently so.


I decided at the outset that the fluid would determine my next steps. If it wasn’t at the right level, I’d add some more and see what that did. If it was at the right level and still looked good, I’d start looking more at the TCU and its logs. But if the fluid came out burnt, I’d begin sourcing a new transmission. So I took the car out for a spin early in the morning, got it up to operating temperature (verifying it with an infrared monitor aimed at the sump), placed the air suspension on its highest setting, and slid underneath it.

Unfortunately, the fluid came out very burnt. Like, almost black. I was disappointed, but not surprised. So I did a little research and determined that I could also use a 6HP26 from a Range Rover Sport Supercharged, since that would also have the higher-spec torque converter, and found such a car with a known good transmission from a reputable parts breaker on eBay that had a warranty—including mechanic labor. And it was $500. Done!

Who did I contact to install the new transmission? Why, the very same person who sold the Range Rover to me, since I knew he knew these transmissions. He agreed to do it for $600 if I provided the transmission fluid, and I agreed. I made sure the transmission got shipped to his shop, and—during the week it was there—he called me to deliver some bad news…not about the transmission: “Last night, the Range Rover was parked against the fence and someone stole your passenger-side cat[alytic converter].”

“Okay, thank you for informing me,” I said.

“You seem a bit calmer than I would be,” was the mechanic’s sheepish response.

“That’s because it was in your care,” I said, “and I’ll be deducting the cost of it from your bill.”

Frankly, the guy was shady, in the first place. When I finally went to go pick up the car, the mechanic’s son was there, and said his father—and my car—were at Harbor Freight. I asked what he thought he was doing driving my car on a personal errand with a missing catalytic converter, and the son just shrugged. When the mechanic finally appeared, he had the audacity to ask me for $5 in gas. Oh, and there was a bit of other news: the car, with the new transmission, wouldn’t shift past fourth gear. There were no errors and it went smoothly through one, two, three, and four, but no fifth or sixth. Weirdly, the car would let you shift into fifth or sixth yourself with manual mode, but would not do so in automatic mode.

I wish I’d have gotten a better picture of the guy’s shop than this


Between that and his asking me for $5 in gas after driving my car around with no cat on one bank, I told him I’d just go ahead and take it, verify that he installed the transmission (and correctly), find out how much the catalytic converter cost, and then remit him the remainder, if there was any. He reluctantly agreed.

Fortunately, the new catalytic converter turned out to only be $300. I found a substitute on Rock Auto for $180 shipped, and a reputable shop that could weld a new one (and install a new O2 sensor) for $100.

As for the transmission, that was a bit more tricky. I couldn’t get it to go into the top two gears, either, and so after the new cat was installed, I plugged my code-reader—which had the Jaguar/Land Rover codes—into it. I took it for a drive at night, when it was dark, and observed all the readouts. One thing stood out to me: the wheel-speed sensor readings. One wheel, the front right, was reading a drastically faster speed even when the wheel was pointed straight. I got out and looked at the wheels, and what did I find? That tire was a completely different size. In fact, it was the correct size, and I suspect it was the spare that was missing out of the back. The other three tires were the wrong size! I got back to my computer and the nice folks in the L322 forums informed me that, yep, the car’s TCM would restrict itself from shifting into the higher gears if it thought you were turning a corner, to keep from losing traction. I suspect most transmissions operate this way, and I was surprised that the transmission expert did not know this.

Doesn’t this picture just make your wallet hurt? Mine did!


I should have called my client at the Land Rover shop to see if we could swap a set of wheels from one of his many parts cars on, which would have all been the same size and would have confirmed the problem. Instead, I popped over to Discount Tire and bought a new set of tires. And, indeed, when I got it out of the shop, it shifted smoothly into the top two gears. Job done!

Next was the A/C, which simply did not work. For this, I did reach out to my client. He determined that the A/C compressor was spent, and the condenser was completely clogged. Those, along with a new drier and fresh fluid, had the A/C running beautifully…which was great considering it was June in Oklahoma. At the same time, we determined that the float in the coolant overflow tank was bad, and so that got replaced and the coolant flushed. It got an oil change at this time, too.

The final drivability problem was the stumble at idle. The Range Rover’s idle was meant to be 700 RPM or so. However, it would slowly surge from 1100 RPM down to 500 RPM, nearly stall speed, before stabilizing and eventually throwing a check-engine light. The first thing I did was clean the mass airflow sensor, and that solved it a bit. Then, I replaced throttle body, which did nothing. But the real culprit, after I put a code reader on it, turned out to be a bad injector wire on cylinder 8, which is the one on the driver’s side (for LHD vehicles) and nearest to the firewall. I had the shop fix that, then replaced all the injectors myself, and it drove fine after that.

The throttle body sits under the rear of that supercharger snorkel. But access is good for this big, square engine bay


The replacement throttle body, which I ended up sending back, and the gasket, which I kept.

Everything else that needed fixing was cosmetic or minor. There was the heated windshield, which Binswanger Glass replaced with an aftermarket unit. There were the A-pillar finishers, which were replaced and got new finishers. I found a whole driver’s seat in the correct color (Ivory) on eBay, had that shipped to my client’s shop, and there installed it there, since my old one was torn. Even the TV in the back of the headrest still worked, so that was nice.

Not a bad job, but that seat was very heavy!


Some of the issues surprised me, though. Again, the 2006 Range Rover was a sort of one-year-wonder, with most of the BMW interior, but the facelifted exterior and the Jaguar powertrains. The BMW exterior was victim to some poor-quality materials and fiddly bits. The texture-painted plastic that covered the center stack and some of the trim would scratch away, leaving unsightly black (fortunately, a Krylon paint product at Home Depot happened to be a perfect match). And then there were the two front cupholders. The 2003-2006 L322 had a single fixed cupholder near the gearshift, a second one that folded out of the center console, and a third one that came out of the dashboard on the very right. The latter two were spring-loaded and were broken. I sourced replacements.

Honey quite liked the car. Also, this picture shows the fold-out cupholder in question, just to the left of the passenger armrest.


Another thing I had to find was a replacement for the worn-out gear-selector surround, an assembly that included the high/low-range differential mode and hill-descent control (HDC) switches. This was easier said than done, because the alphanumeric code on the underside of the part needed to be a correct match for the one that came with your car from the factory, or you’d get error lights and it wouldn’t work. And there were about ten revisions.

Bane of my existence. Thanks, BMW!


The headlights were a breeze to remove, polish, protective-coat, and reinstall (and I laughed at the “FoMoCo” labels under the mounts.) But the taillights were a bit more trouble. From 2006 to 2009, the HSE trim of the L322 had taillights with lower lenses, and these took regular yellow bulbs. But the Supercharged and Autobiography trims had clear lower lenses, with special opalescent bulbs that themselves lit up red. Finding replacement aftermarket taillights in the Supercharged style was easy enough, but the bulbs were a specific Land Rover part. I couldn’t find any alternative other than to fork over $64 apiece for them at the dealer (and there were four!).

A replacement housing, still in the plastic


Finally, there was the camera. The L322’s camera was top-mounted, under the spoiler, and looked down over the bumper and beyond it. But the 2006-2009 cameras were prone to getting filled with water and then shorting out…which had happened to mine. The forums came to the rescue again, revealing that someone in the UK had created an aftermarket part that worked better than the original (digital vs analog), was better sealed, and included a wiring harness to do the signal conversion. That part was easy to install once you removed the interior trim for the upper liftgate and unbolted the spoiler.

I enjoyed the 2006 Range Rover Supercharged for a couple of trouble-free months after that, and then decided to sell it. I can’t remember why, but I think it’s because I wanted a later-series (2010-2012) one instead. What I vividly remember is what happened when I put it up for sale on FB Marketplace and Craigslist, for $7,500, a reasonable price for one at the time.

Top tip! When photographing a car for sale, take it to a nice neighborhood and do the photos in front of a new-construction, unoccupied house. It looks bougier.


Folks, let me tell you that there’s nothing quite more effective than an attainably priced European luxury SUV to make people lose their minds. People called me to ask if I’d take payments (I’m not a bank, sorry). I had people calling me to ask if I thought it would last another 200K miles (Do I look like Miss Cleo to you? And probably not, no.) I had people asking if I could hold it until they could borrow the money from their 401K (I sure can’t, and also, that’s a terrible idea). I had someone say, and I quote “My baby momma owes me $4,000 in back child support, and I still have $3,000 from my tax return; will you take $7,000 for it” (Yikes!). A woman even came to test-drive it with her daughter. The daughter had previously just totaled a Hummer H2 by texting and driving, and Mom thought she should remain in a big, safe, luxury 4×4 (Why?)

The eventual buyer was an 80-something-year-old man who, I admit, looked like Mr. Magoo and drove about as well. He clarified the car was for him, as he’d always wanted one. Meanwhile, he probably had no business driving anything, much less a Range Rover on air suspension. But he was hot-to-trot, he and his niece had cash, they both appeared to be of sound mind, and it was none of my business. So, we settled on $7,100, and away it went. My only hope is that his niece was really the one driving him around in it. And I, I made a small profit, if you discount the hours and hours that I could have spent doing literally anything else, such as my regular job.

If you’ve ever seen the long-running British show Wheeler Dealers, they do this nice thing at the end where they outline how much they spent at the end of a project, and how much they made. I’ll do that here:

2006 Range Rover Supercharged $1,800.00
Tag, Title & Registration $166.15
Transmission & Transmission Fluid (and Unscheduled Catalytic Converter Replacement) $1,230.16
A/C Repair & Recharge $547.12
Replacement Seat $227.19
Replacement Windshield $596.03
Replacement Tires (4) $849.94
Replacement Rear Light Housings $215.68
Replacement Injectors $183.21
Replacement Retractable Cupholders $141.12
Replacement Bulbs $257.44
Replacement Rearview Camera $70.36
Coolant and & Service $268.71
Misc. Supplies $65.53
Man Hours Who Cares
Total Cost $6,477.52
Sale Price $7,100.00
Profit $622.48


I’d love to say that this was the beginning of my career as a reasonably humble car flipper for prestige hoopties, but no. This was a fluke. In subsequent adventures, I went right on back to spending more than I sold cars for, and throwing good money after bad (seriously, I accrue for this in my monthly budget!)

And as for my wanting a later-series L322? Stay tuned!