This couple is all about Land Rover love

Photography by Niki Byrne

Oct 15, 2021

Couples that ride together, stay together. With ‘his and hers’ Land Rovers in their driveway, this is certainly the case for Los Angeles-based enthusiasts Molly Tapp and Tommy King. For Tommy, his current 1982 2-door is his 3rd Range Rover Classic he’s collected over the years, but for Molly, her 1962 Series IIa is the first — a wonderful shared experience in the making.

Stories of couples who share the automotive bond are always lighthearted examples of how cars help people connect. We spoke with Molly and Tommy to learn more about their passion for Land Rovers and how they came to own these two 4x4s.

Marqued: The Range Rover Classic is for many people the perfect combination of classic design and practicality. And on the other hand, Molly’s Series IIa certainly has classic design, but not the most practical. Molly, what attracted you to the older one?

Molly: The funny thing is, I'm a sucker for old trucks. I have a rusted out Ford truck that I keep out in the desert and love the military feel. My dad was a concrete truck driver and used to let me drive so there is something familiar about the loud noises and atmosphere. Growing up in Redondo beach, my sister and I used to see Land Rovers drive down PCH and used to always think they were so cool.

Fast forward to adulthood, and one day Tommy was on Craigslist and he showed me this truck, like, "Oh, look what's for sale." And I said, "I want that." Not thinking I was serious, he was like "Okay..." But I was dead serious, "No, no, no, call the guy. I want that."

Marqued: So love at first sight.

Molly: I told Tommy, “You have to come with me and check it out because I don't know anything about these cars." We got in and it started right up and took it around the block and everything checked out. It was a really good deal.

I think we got it on Thanksgiving, and then it broke down on Thanksgiving.


Photographed by Niki Byrne

Tommy: Yeah, it broke down. Basically broke down 50 yards away from picking it up.

Molly: Yeah.

Marqued: Ouch.

Molly: Exactly. The tow truck to my sister’s for Thanksgiving was the funny part. Luckily it wasn’t a big deal. The other thing about getting it was that I didn’t know how to drive a stick. I learned when I was 16 but didn't really ever drive one again. So, on Christmas morning, Tommy took me to a parking lot and we learned how to drive a stick in this. It’s not easy to drive.

Marqued: Out of all the classic 4x4 trucks you could be into, what is it about Land Rover?

Molly: I actually always loved Land Cruisers, but the Land Rover just has its own look. I always watch the old Camel Trophy races and you see these Rovers out in the mud and they don't look like they should ever make it, but somehow they do. I think they're cartoonish and that's fun for me. And I don't get that from any other era of car.


Photographed by Niki Byrne

Marqued: Tommy, you said you've had quite a few Range Rover Classics.

Tommy: I have. I always wanted one because I had a connection with them since high school, when I’d drive in my friend's truck. I had a string of them. It would break down. I couldn't find a good mechanic to work on it and parts were too expensive or hard to come by and I'd sell it. And then I'd take a deep sigh of relief and a week later, I'd be back on the internet searching for another one because I just missed it. I've bought and sold so many cars. I've had American muscle cars and more exotic stuff. There's this void that can't be filled with anything other than the Range Rover.

They’re elegant but also totally utilitarian. You can do anything you want it to do. And it's such a fun truck to be driving through the desert. You just kind of point in a direction and say to yourself, "We can go there." So more so than any other manufacturer, they've always been able to walk this line of being all-terrain, purposeful, utilitarian cars, but also incredibly elegant.

Molly: The reason why we initially got into Range Rovers again is because I have a house in the desert. And there's this annual New Year's day crawl up the back road to Big Bear that I've always wanted to do, but never had because my old truck couldn’t do it. But when Tommy got a Rover again, we took it up the route while it was snowing. It was just us, I don't know why we thought it was a good idea. But we made it.

It was that memory of going up a dangerous road in bad conditions and still feeling safe in this car. It was the funniest thing. And I think that was my first Rover experience off-roading.

Marqued: Tommy, you’re also into Porsches. Do you think there is some connective tissue between Porsches and Range Rovers that appeals to you?

Tommy: You know, Range Rovers and Porsches are driver's cars. You can drive the piss out of them and they can go anywhere. But at the same time, Porsche does one thing and then the Range Rover does the polar opposite thing. But they're all-purpose great cars that want to be driven. Both those brands also have great communities around them. The people and the mindset. When I got into the Porsche world I was inundated with all these great people, the wealth of information, and such a supportive community. And I think it's the same way in the Land Rover community.


Photographed by Niki Byrne

Molly: We'll literally see someone driving a Porsche or Rover and Tommy will follow them into the parking lot and we'll talk to them.

Tommy: Molly’s like, “You're freaking this person out." I'm like, "No, that's a Series 2-door truck. And they're going to understand." She's like, "Please babe, turn around or they're going to call the cops." And then I'll follow them into a CVS parking lot and we'll talk for an hour.

Molly: It's hilarious.

Marqued: It's pretty easy to buy an old car but really hard to buy the right old car. What are you looking for when you go to find one like that?

Molly: Well, I look to Tommy and his research on all the cars. But I've actually gotten lucky with both my cars because I'm just like, "I like it." But he’s there to help me once I pass that "I like it" moment.

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Photographed by Niki Byrne

Marqued: That's an important moment. I mean, if you don't like it, if you don't love it, what's the point? From a more practical standpoint, especially from the Range Rover point of view, obviously there are a lot of people out there searching for Range Rovers, probably even just 4-door Classics. Can you go through what someone should look for?

Tommy: The 4-door Classics are a bit easier. But when I was looking for my 2-doors, the only real requirement was that it was a 2-door, because they're so rare and you may have to buy what you find and figure out the rest later. But I found the 2-door, and luckily it came from an honest guy. And then I immediately found another one and I had great luck with that. But that was a rare situation because I didn't really have many options.

The thing to look for with the 4-doors and beyond is, number one, history of ownership. When I'm looking at a car, I want it to come from somebody who has loved the car the way I'm going to. I look for service records, long term ownership, a previous owner who knows what he's doing, who’s an enthusiast. And then, if that checks out, then I'm first going to look at body damage, rust — anything that would just be a nightmare to fix. I also look for originality. I just don't want them to be messed with. I want the car to have a long history of being serviced by a reputable mechanic. I try to buy a car from someone who's like me: Neurotic and OCD.

Marqued: Looking at the Land Rover Series prices, I’m surprised they aren’t more valuable. They’re like the more rare, more interesting grandfather to the Defender, which is a very expensive truck in today's market. What do you think accounts for that?

Tommy: I think the early Series trucks fall into the category of antique novelties. Whereas like the later Defenders, they have fuel-injected motors and you can actually drive them on the freeway. They have safety equipment, they have power brakes, they have power steering. I mean, the Series trucks are amazing, but they're literally like tractors.

Molly: Yeah. I go 50 miles an hour on the freeway.

Tommy: A sorted example of a later Defender or a 4-door Range Rover can go anywhere. Whereas the Series trucks are actually very off-road capable, but they're sort of one-dimensional in that regard.

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Photographed by Niki Byrne

Marqued: If you decided to ship your trucks anywhere in the world for a week-long caravan adventure, where would you go?

Molly: I'd like to do the Camel Trophy in Africa, like the truck would have done in the ‘70s, and wear all their vintage clothes.

Tommy: God, that's a good question — I'd probably take it down to Costa Rica, all-terrain through the jungle. But without anything that could be possibly scary. Definitely free of all reptiles and insects.

Marqued: Both great answers. Molly and Tommy, thank you so much for showing us your beautiful trucks! Hopefully you have many adventures in the future!

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Photographed by Niki Byrne

Meet our contributors

Niki Byrne is a filmmaker, photographer, and helicopter pilot who doesn't start an adventure without her Leica. Her inclination to capture moments rather than static cars brings a much-needed fresh look to automotive content.

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