20 interesting facts about Land Rover
Land Rover has always been leader in SUV segment of auto market. Just mention the Land Rover name, to make it clear – we are talking about off-road vehicles. In fact, SUVs were the only type of vehicle they ever produced. Here are some interesting facts about the company.
1. Land Rover history had begun in post WW II Britany. The very first Land Rover was built in 1947 by two brothers, Maurice and Spencer Wilks. Maurice was chief designer of a Rover, British car manufacturing company and Spencer was its Managing Director. Brothers got inspiration from military 4×4 Willys Jeep.
2. According to the legend, Maurice used to spend all the free time on his farm on Isle of Anglesey, North Wales. Being in dire need of hybrid between cross-country vehicle and a light truck, he bought an American Willys Jeep form army property clearance sale. When old jeep got worn-out, Wilks brothers designed their own, instead of buying a new one.
3. For practical reasons – due to post-war shortage of steel and surplus of aluminium, brothers decided to use anti-corrosive aluminium alloys as body liner.
4. The first Land Rover was officially presented in 1948, at the Amsterdam Motor Show. The car was offered in single configuration: open body on 80 inch (2032 mm) short-wheelbase chassis.
Vehicle, marketed as “farmer’s friend”, was often depicted alongside with different mounted or trailed farming tools.
5. Land Rover has been very warmly received by the market. Starting with 3 thousand cars in the first year of production, the company increased its output to 8,000 in 1949 and doubled it in 1950. In subsequent years, production capacity was increasing steadily, reaching 30,000 cars in 1958, and 50,000 – in 1968. The car, created in fact only to make use of idle plants, overshadowed production of passenger cars which used to be the main Rover products.
6. In 1950 AWC system was improved: gearbox received additional lever in order to switch transmission between rear wheel drive and all-wheel drive modes. Customers could choose wheelbase length and body configuration. Land Rover became synonym or reliability and superb off-road capabilities.
7. Not only farmers had appreciated the practicality of the new SUV. First generation Land Rover was used as military light utility vehicle in several countries. Military experts have recognized the reliability and versatility of Land Rover. Delivery of these vehicles to the armed forces of foreign countries had become an important part of the company’s business.
8. In the 1960s the demand for the four-wheel drive vehicles significantly increased and Land Rover was at the forefront of new emerging market segment. The company decided to develop a new vehicle that would combine comfort and driving characteristics of a family car with the off-road capabilities Land Rover. The result of their work was Range Rover that was launched into production in 1970, and immediately caused a general admiration. This car was a real breakthrough.
9. In the early 1970s, the Musée du Louvre in Paris exhibited a Range Rover as an “exemplary work of industrial design”. No other car has ever received such an honour.
10. New Range Rover was considered a vehicle for amateurs among the fans of the Land Rover. Many of them had doubts that new car was as reliable as the previous model. All doubts were dispelled two years later, when a number of Range Rover vehicles, managed by a group of British soldiers under the command of Major John Blashford-Snell, made a rally from Anchorage, Alaska to the Argentine city of Ushuaia.
The British Trans-Americas Expedition of 1972 became the first vehicle-based expedition to traverse the Americas from north-to-south, including traversing the roadless Darién Gap.
There are not all that many cars, able to deal with such a challenge, but the Range Rover SUVs honourably withstood severe six months long endurance test, finally consolidating its reputation.
11. During the 1970s and 80s the evolution of Land Rover and Range Rover had continued. Land Rover recognition had grown even more through such events as the Paris-Dakar Rally, which demonstrated outstanding capabilities of these vehicles.
12. In March 16, 1987 Range Rover become available to American market. Standard configuration included air conditioner, cruise control,
ZF 4-speed automatic transmission, as well as electric moon roof. One could order optional crystal wine glass set and wooden picnic trays for all three passengers and waterproof cover for expensive leather backseat.
13. In the mid-80s Land Rover engineers and designers were working on vehicle, intended for a family car market segment. It was decided to use a Range Rover wheel base with a simpler and less expensive body. The result of hard work on the project was the Land Rover Discovery, presented on 16 September 1989 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Discovery was for Land Rover’s pioneer project for a new market segment of all-wheel drive cars.
14. In 1992 Range Rover got yet another upgrade. Swept-volume capacity of V8 engine was enhanced to 4.2 litres, vehicle got electronic traction control and, most notably, air suspension. Prior to that, suspension which supports the load on air-filled rubber bags, rather than steel springs was used only on buses, auto trucks and few luxury cars. This upgrade turned Range Rover into not only most comfortable, but most complex and technologically advanced SUV of its time.
15. Vintage Range Rover Classic model was discontinued in 1996. Throughout 26 years, 317 615 units were built. In 2002, the third-generation model was introduced which saw the model move further up-market.
16. Between 1980 and 2000, The Camel Trophy – annual vehicle-oriented competition was held. It was best known for its use of Land Rover vehicles over challenging terrain. Those motorsport events have been called “the Olympics of 4×4”, and were all about adventure and exploration. Throughout 20 years, courageous explorers visited Amazon, Sumatra, Zaire, Brazil, Borneo, Australia, Madagascar and more. Those dangerous expeditions through difficult terrain put human and vehicle endurance to real test. Over the course of the twenty years, all of the Land Rover vehicle range were used, including Range Rover, Series III, Defender, Discovery and Freelander.
17. In 90’s Land Rover car brand had change its owner few times. In 1994 Rover Group and its Land Rover division was bought by German automotive industry giant BMW. In 2000, Rover Group was broken up by BMW and Land Rover was sold to Ford Motor Company. And in 2008, Ford sold Land Rover to Indian company Tata Motors.
18. In 1997 Land Rover Freelander was launched. More compact than Discovery, this sport utility vehicle became Europe’s best-selling four-wheel drive model. It was produced for 19 years, changing two generations.
19. Introduced in 2005, Range Rover Sport is a mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV). It is considered Land Rover’s best model as far as dynamic performance and car handling are concerned.
20. The Range Rover Evoque has been produced since 2011. It is a compact luxury crossover SUV, which naturally complements the model range of Land Rover. Today, Land Rover vehicles are not simply “comfortable all-terrain vehicles” but symbol of prosperity, good taste and refinement.