There's a special place in my heart for vehicles like the Glenfrome Facet.
Intriguing enough to be desirable, with a unique shape that hides its pedestrian roots, this open-top, go-anywhere conveyance for the very wealthy is largely unknown today—a sad reminder that unique vehicles are often discarded and forgotten about far faster than their builders would like.
In this case, coachbuilders Glenfrome of England had hoped to simultaneously brutally modernize off-roading and attract wealthy clients with a taste for something extreme. Unlike headline-grabbing but utterly hopeless 'super' off-roaders like the Lamborghini LM002 and the Sbarro Monster G, Glenfrome sought to create a machine just a few notches less extreme than other bespoke SUVs.
Here's the deal: underneath its space-age, Dennis Adams-penned exterior, the Facet is an early Land Rover Range Rover. (Adams also worked on the well-known Probe 16.) Whether it was built to revolutionize luxury off-roading or to just capture magazine covers for much-needed publicity, the Facet is an intriguing conversion with a style of its own.
Founded in the late 1970s, Glenfrome quickly began to outfit Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles with modifications as extreme as you'd expect in the '70s and '80s. They specialized, however, in modifications to the Land Rover Range Rover, and often outfitted models with more sumptuous interiors, convertible tops, or a longer wheelbase at the owner's request.
Considering that sort of experience, it's no wonder the company tried to branch out with a design of its own—one you'll either love or hate. I suspect that I'm in the perfect age bracket for loving the the Facet, an argument made stronger still when you consider my adoration for chiseled, box fender-equipped vehicles.
Underneath its kit car looks, however, was a thoroughly considered vehicle with a number of useful design touches. Thanks to the wonderful range-rover-classic.com and its scan of the Facet brochure, I can tell you with certainty that its targa top roof, for instance, stowed neatly above the engine, under the hydro-electrically-operated bonnet…er…hood.
Other standard equipment is as follows:
- Two-tone paintwork
- Colour-keyed bumpers, with the front including a high-capacity winch
- A choice of alloy wheels (often from Wolfrace)
- Electric windows—including the rear window
- Central locking
- Power side mirrors
- Fully bespoke interior trim, including reshaped seats for comfort and a unique dashboard in burr walnut and leather
- Colour-keyed carpets and lambswool floor mats
- 'High-fidelity' radio and tape player
One optional extra added shortly after was a second Facet model, the Glenfrome Profile. It lacked a removable front targa roof section but the rear of the SUV was open to the elements, just like a short-wheelbase Geo Tracker.
The Profile photo below also shows a most curious (and perhaps optional by special request) ornate carpet that is believed to unfurl at the push of a button. That's odd—even for me.
Many of these special Glenfrome SUVs ended up in the Middle East, with more than 50 believed to have been completed. Now, if you think the Facet is an anomaly, stay tuned this week for a more Russian take on the personal luxury SUV sports coupe/convertible theme…