Land Rover Heritage - Over 60 Years And Still Going Strong
Land Rover has come a long way since the marque first appeared in 1948 and are now the world's most respected 4x4 brand.
Land Rover/Defender (1948 to date)
Originally known simply as “Land Rover” to distinguish it from Rover saloons, it was intended as a short term model to give Rover something to export – in those days, the government’s motto was “Export or Die”. The bodywork was made of aluminium because aluminium was not subject to rationing, unlike steel – a happy accident for the new model. It is still in production today as the Defender, giving the model the longest production lifespan ever – and probably forever. Someone from 1948 would recognise the Defender, but would be amazed by the engine: it now has three times the torque (pulling power) of the original.
Range Rover Classic (1970 – 1996)
Designed by the legendary Spen King, he conceived it as “the 100 inch station wagon” – 100 inches referring to the wheelbase. Intended to bridge the gap between a traditional Land Rover and an executive saloon (like a Rover 3500), it gradually became a luxury car over its 24-year-life. The two secrets to the Range Rover’s incredible off-road ability were permanent four-wheel-drive (then a real novelty, as other 4x4s had no central differential meaning they could not drive on-road in 4wd), plus long-travel suspension that enabled the wheels to drop into holes to find grip (the conventional wisdom had been that off-roaders needed very stiff suspension).
Land Rover Discovery Mark One (1989 – 1998)
As the Range Rover moved upmarket, a gap appeared for an off-roader slightly less expensive and luxurious than Land Rover’s Range Rover. The first Discovery was actually a clever re-skin of the Range Rover Classic, with a body that looked a bit more utilitarian and slightly less luxurious equipment. Over time, the Discovery carved out a big part of the 4x4 market, as the Range Rover moved ever upward. It was the arrival of the Discovery that made it necessary to badge the traditional Land Rover as “Defender”: if one Land Rover design had a model name, the other one needed a name too.
Range Rover Evoque (2011 - )
The Evoque started life as a motor show concept car – the LRX. Land Rover had its collective hand bitten off by the public, so had to figure out a way to make it. The main problem was the low roof of the concept: how were they going to find space for the rear seat. After much hard work, they managed it and Gerry McGovern, is very proud that the only change from concept car to production was the door mirrors – and that was because of new legislation he could do nothing about.
Range Rover (2012 - )
The most advanced Range Rover yet – and the most advanced luxury off-roader on sale. Its all-aluminium construction has cut weight by an incredible 420 kg. If you thought Range Rovers had always been aluminium, they had aluminium body panels, but a steel chassis. Now there is hardly a piece of steel to be found: body, chassis, engine are all made from the lightweight metal. The result is a driving experienced that has been transformed. It feels like a sports car that is mysteriously hovering a foot higher than normal, rather than a large luxury SUV.