March 23, 2015
The instantly recognisable Range Rover is an iconic sport utility vehicle with a long and fascinating history. This classic vehicle was first manufactured in 1970 by Land Rover, but its history really begins long before this time.
Post war innovation
Launched in 1948, the Rover Company’s Land Rover vehicle was a military-style all-terrain vehicle that blazed a trail for the modern four-wheel drive. Following on from the surprise success of the Land Rover, the Rover Company experimented with ideas for a new Range Rover vehicle as early as 1952.
50s and 60s prototypes
Through the 1950s and 1960s, Rover began looking at creating a new vehicle that would combine the stark practicality of the Land Rover with the more comfortable interior and speed of a modern car. This would attract a new market of leisure drivers who weren’t interested in agricultural or army vehicles but required a robust 4×4 people carrier for use both on- and off-road. The first Range Rover prototype was released, after a long evolution, in 1967.
The first Range Rover
The first Range Rover model went on the market in 1970, described in its marketing strapline as “A car for all reasons”. Boasting coil springs and permanent four-wheel drive, it broke the mould of its Land Rover predecessor, with a top speed of 100 miles an hour and going from 0 to 60 in 15 seconds. The Rover Company marketed it as an excellent vehicle for taking the family on holiday, due to its roomy interior and off-road capability.
To distinguish it from the different vehicles that came afterwards, this model is now known as the Range Rover Classic.
Changes over the years
An instant British classic, the Range Rover has nonetheless undergone a few changes since it first emerged nearly fifty years ago. Throughout the 1970s there were few modifications, but in 1980 the first five-door version was introduced – a big improvement for those needing to load and unload quickly and easily. Further modifications, including automatic transmission, were introduced before the launch of the second generation model in 1995.
The second generation P38A-series model, first sold in 1995, was an upgrade in comfort from its classic predecessor. Featuring air suspension and leather seats, it was a luxurious vehicle that nevertheless retained its practical status.
In 2002 the Range Rover moved even further upmarket with the launch by BMW of its third generation vehicle (L322). No longer offering a manual transmission option, the new automatic vehicle incorporated BMW M62 V8 engines. Jeremy Clarkson called his third-generation Range Rover ‘the best car in the world’.
More recently in 2012, the fourth-generation Range Rover was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. A slightly larger vehicle, both inside and out, its aluminium frame nevertheless enabled it to be lighter than ever. Featuring Land Rover’s Active Dynamics system, this ultra-modern yet classic vehicle handles responsively and boasts the latest touch-screen technology for ultimate driver control. A design legend that looks to the future, a hybrid version was launched in 2014 – the first of its kind in the world.