Land Rover


Its design may have been dictated by pragmatism, but after 60 years, Land Rover is still going strong.

The typical Land Rover owner may be more urbanite than farmer these days, but this all-terrain vehicle has negotiated the most extreme conditions and the rockiest of terrains from desert war zones to Icelandic glaciers in its 60-year history.

Moreover, despite having had to negotiate a rocky path, as ownership passed through some of the world's leading car manufacturers, including Ford, BMW and now Tata Motors, Land Rover has stayed the course. It has maintained its popularity with the armed forces, royalty, celebrities, explorers and suburban families alike.

First produced by the Rover Company in 1948, the Series I Land Rover debuted at the Amsterdam Motor Show. By the end of the year, it was being exported to 70 countries.

Inspired by the American Jeep he used on his Anglesey farm, Rover's designer, Maurice Wilks, had identified Britain's need for a mass-produced, high-performance off-road vehicle. Jeep parts could be bought only in bulk due to war-time overproduction, leaving a gap in the market that would come to be dominated by the Land Rover.

The influence on the Land Rover of the UK's post-war austerity was obvious in its bare interior and use of cheap aluminium, with the classic sage green colour coming from a surplus paint stock intended for fighter planes. The classic Land Rover design emerged from utility rather than aesthetics.

In 1970, with Land Rover sales having topped 0.5m, the Range Rover was launched, adding luxury to the original's stark design.

Performance was still a priority, though, and the Range Rover was test-driven by engineers across the Sahara Desert. It would also later be tested to its limits crossing the Darien Gap, the nigh-on impenetrable swampland between Panama and Colombia, on a trans-America British Army expedition.

Today, the Land Rover range includes the classic Defender, the natural evolution of the Series I, II and III vehicles; the Discovery and Freelander launched in 1989 and 1997 respectively; and the Range Rover Sport and Evoque models.

Performance lies at the heart of Land Rover. Despite its reputation as a 'Chelsea tractor', it is still used by the British Army, Royal Geographic Society and the Red Cross.

The enduring appeal of Land Rover is clear, with the company claiming that 70% of all the vehicles it has ever made are still in use today. …

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