Junkyard Gem: 2003 Land Rover Freelander SE3


North American vehicle shoppers had gone mad for SUVs of all shapes and sizes by the dawn of our current century, with demand so high that even bike-and-car-centric Honda felt compelled to jump into the fray with new designs. Land Rover, sold to Ford by BMW in 2000, had offered sturdy body-on-frame trucks here for decades and decided the time was right to bring the unibody Freelander over here for the 2002 model year. Those trucks were all four-doors, but for 2003 a two-door version with detachable roof panel was introduced here: the Freelander SE3. Two decades later, here’s one of these happy little trucks, found discarded in a self-service car graveyard located near Pikes Peak.

Two-door convertible SUVs sold well enough here during the 1980s and 1990s, with such entries as the Isuzu Amigo/Rodeo Sport, Daihatsu Rocky and Suzuki Sidekick/Geo Tracker roaming the roads. Surely American car shoppers of the new century would go wild for a British version?

As it turned out, they didn’t. The two-door Freelander got the axe after 2005.

The rear canopy and front sunroof were removable, enabling the Freelander SE3 owner to enjoy semi-top-down driving. Unfortunately, there was no place inside to store the canopy, so it had to be left at home when removed.

The engine is a 2.5-liter DOHC V6 (here partially disassembled), a Rover Group design originally developed for use in the Rover 800. This one was rated at 174 horsepower and 177 pound-feet when new.

Some Freelanders were equipped with manual transmissions on the other side of the Atlantic, but not here. Five-speed automatics were mandatory in the U.S.-market versions.

This one looks to have been in nice cosmetic shape when it arrived here, so we can assume that mechanical woes doomed it to this fate.

Supposedly, the Freelander was more capable off-road than other compact CUVs.

Been anywhere interesting lately?

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