In pictures: seminal Land Rovers

In pictures: seminal Land Rovers
In pictures: seminal Land Rovers

We look back at the vehicles that changed Land Rover

In 2020 Land Rover will reveal a Road Rover, an all-electric crossover, long, low and sleek. That’s a long way from a Series 1 from over 70 years before.

In those decades there have been many step-change moments for Land Rover, and here’s a look at that journey.

The Land Rover of 1948

Maurice Wilks was the technical director of Britain’s Rover car company just after the end of WWII. He was also a farmer, with a farm in Wales. And on that farm he had a US military Jeep to help out. It was the inspiration for the 1947 prototype of the Land Rover. By 1948 it was in production, with a 1.6-litre engine giving 50bhp and four-wheel drive.

Station Wagon 1949

It didn’t take Land Rover long to work out there could be mileage in a rather more comfortable version of its utilitarian first vehicle. Tickford produced this smart seven-seater, complete with leather seats and a heater. It didn’t sell well, but the germ of the idea started to sprout.

The Road Rover 1955

Hmm, that name looks familiar somehow. The next attempt at a luxury version was this Road Rover, which married Rover’s luxury saloons with the basic Land Rover by creating something that looked like an American station wagon. It was based on the Rover P4 chassis.

Road Rover Series II 1958

A second attempt moved even further towards the car market, clearly putting passenger comfort ahead of practicality. It didn’t really work and Rover kept on with the utility Land Rover and the more luxurious Rover saloons.

Road Rover 1967

With the advent of successful off-road vehicles like the Ford Bronco in the USA, Land Rover decided to try its hand again at a more luxurious vehicle. This is the early design in clay, created by Charles ‘Spen’ King and tweaked by David Bache.

Velar prototype 1969

With Leyland now in charge, the design was signed off as the Range Rover, although early prototypes were called the Velar – again, it’s nice to see the company recycling names rather than sending them for landfill. With a Buick 215 all-alloy V8 under the clamshell bonnet, the Range Rover was good to go.

Range Rover 1970

The first production vehicles appeared in 1970 to rave reviews. With a box-section chassis, to which the panels were attached, and a 130bhp V8, the Range Rover had arrived.

Discovery 1 1989

With a new Range Rover underway, the Discovery was envisaged to be a vehicle to fit between the Range Rover and what would be called the Defender. Quality of this cheaper vehicle was questionable, but the sales numbers were huge – over 1.2m over three chassis generations.

Freelander 1997

With BMW in charge, Land Rover decided it was time to mine the smaller SUV market. The monocoque Freelander, available in a wide range of engines and styles, would become the best-selling four-wheel drive in Europe every year from now until 2002.

Range Rover Mk3 2002

Would you buy a car from this man? Lots of people did. Largely BMW developed and funded, the Mk 3 was a big step up on the preceding P38A Mk 2, and featured advanced electronics and engines largely sourced from BMW.

Range Rover Evoque 2011

In 2008 Ford, who’d bought Land Rover from BMW, sold it to Tata Motors, a vast Indian business. They were the beneficiaries of the launch of the Evoque, an SUV barely longer than a VW Golf, and a vehicle that proved extremely popular with females – as it was intended to.

Land Rover Discovery 2016

The launches kept coming – the third-generation Range Rover in 2012, the Range Rover Sport in 2013, the Discovery Sport in 2014 and, in 2016, this fifth-generation Discovery.

Range Rover Velar 2017

The company thought there was a gap in the market between the £30k Evoque and the £60k Range Rover Sport and this is the result – the £44k Velar. The platform is from Jaguar Land Rover’s Jaguar F-Pace, and the whole vehicle is even lower than an Evoque, so the road was considered easily as much as what happens off the road.

Road Rover 2020

And so it goes full circle, with a luxury Land Rover aimed more at the road. The new Road Rover is aimed more at the US and Chinese markets and it’s notable that in the former market Subaru has been selling four-wheel drive cars in impressively increasing numbers for about a decade now. This ‘low-rise Land Rover’ could cost up to £90k in the UK market, and is a premium all-electric, all-wheel drive vehicle.

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