4x4, Auto Shows, Motoring News, off-road

Paper bridge high-spot in 45-year Rangey history

  • Land Rover celebrates 45 years of Range Rover
  • World-first drive over one-off paper bridge
  • One-off art project for off Range Rover 45th anniversary

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GUANGZHOU, China – Land Rover has driven a flagship Range Rover over a bridge made of paper in Suzhou, China, to celebrate 45 years of the now iconic luxury SUV.

The freestanding structure, built without glue or bolts to hold it in place, had a span of five metres and was assembled as a highlight of the Guangzhou auto show.

The hand-built paper bridge took three days to construct in the ancient water city of Suzhou, famous for its bridges and nicknamed ‘The Venice of the East’. The unique crossing was made of high quality paper supplied by specialist British manufacturer James Cropper.

And a cropper the Range Rover did not come.

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NOTHING BUT PACKED PAPER: The Range Rover heads for its world-first crossing. Image: Land Rover

VIDEO: Watch the awesome Range Rover drive

The drive, Land Rover said, was the latest in a long line of industry firsts for a Rangey, the world’s luxury SUV when it debuted in 1970 and the first vehicle to drive across the Darien Gap in Central America two years later.

In 1989 it was first 4×4 to be fitted with anti-lock brakes and introduced both electronic traction control and electronic air suspension to the sector in 1992. The Corner best-remembers it for being a British police motorway chase car.

The latest fourth-generation model was the first all-aluminium SUV when it debuted in 2012, slicing half a ton off its mass.

Land Rover Experience chief instructor Chris Zhou made the bridge drive, using the car’s all-terrain technology for a light-footed crossing.

Nick Rogers, group engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover, told The Corner in a media release: “China is an important market for Range Rover so we picked the perfect place to celebrate its 45th anniversary. Range Rover’s advanced light body and peerless all-terrain capability were crucial in making this unique drive possible.”

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KING OF THE BRIDGE: No glue, no bolts – just the same construction as the Romans used a 100 years ago to build stone bridges. Image: Land Rover

Artist and paper bridge designer Steve Messam added: “Paper structures capable of supporting people have been built before – but nothing on this scale. It’s pushing engineering boundaries but the Range Rover negotiating the arch was genuinely breathtaking.”

A Brief History of Range Rover world firsts:

1970 – The original two-door Range Rover – known as the Classic – goes on sale
1972 – The Range Rover is the first vehicle to cross the Darien Gap on a British Army Trans America expedition
1979 – A specially modified Range Rover wins the first Paris-Dakar rally (a Range Rover wins again in 1981)
1981 – First production four-door Range Rover appears along with the first factory produced limited-edition Range Rover – the ‘In Vogue’
1985 – The diesel-powered Range Rover ‘Bullet’ breaks 27 speed records, including a diesel record for averaging more than 100mph for 24 hours
1989 – Range Rover is the world’s first 4×4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes
1992 – Range Rover Classic is the world’s first 4×4 to be fitted with Electronic Traction Control
1992 – Automatic electronic air suspension introduced, a world first for a 4×4
1994 – Second-generation (P38a) Range Rover launched
2001 – Third-generation (L322) Range Rover launched
2002  –  Half-millionth Range Rover produced at the Solihull plant
2010 – Range Rover celebrates its 40th anniversary,
2012 – Fourth-generation (L405) Range Rover launched – the world’s first all-aluminium SUV
2015 – 6 000 000th Land Rover produced is a Range Rover LWB SE Vogue destined for China

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Bridge Construction

Construction of the bridge began with the assembly of a pair of specially designed wooden abutments. Paper was then stacked on these supports using a temporary framework to hold them in place.

Once complete, this was removed leaving a freestanding 3.4m- high paper arch spanning five metres.

Effectively, the same method used by the Romans to build stone arched bridges.

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