PRETORIA South Africa – June 2020 marked a half-century since Land Rover revealed its luxury on/off-road 4×4 vehicle, the Range Rover, with the aim of revolutionising the leisure vehicle market
Even earlier, in the mid-1960s, Rover’s engineering chief for new vehicle projects Charles Spencer (‘Spen’ King nephew of the founders of Land Rover in 1948), hatched a plan to combine the comfort and on-road ability of a Rover saloon with the off-road capability of a Land Rover.
Development began during the late 1960’s and in 1970 the first unit was shown to the world’s media. Its ability to cruise the then new British motorways on the way to off-roading – even towing, if needed – seeded its instant popularity.
The original Classic model was described as ”an exemplary work of industrial design” when it became the first vehicle to be displayed at the world-famous Louvre Museum in Paris in 1971.
The first generation Range Rover (1970-1996) was only available as a two door when it went on sale in 1970 but during its 26-year production run the Classic evolved into a four-door/horizontally split tail door model in 1081 and an auto gearbox was introduced in 1982.
A diesel engine was added in 1986.
The next interation arrived in 1994 and its silhouette was instantly recognisable – a shape that has been maintained with minor changes, to current (2020) times, as more and more luxury and style was added. As were height-adjustable suspension, and a range of engines from a 2.5 diesel to a mighty V8.
The third generation (2001-2012) brought a stiffer monocoque body (ousting the traditional 4×4 ladder frame) and fully independent air suspension (at the time nearly every 4×4 had rigid axles). The cabins, Land Rover told The Corner in a media release, ”were inspired by high-end yachts, fine furniture, and first-class airline seats”.
The fourth and most recent Range Rover debuted in 2012 with an all-aluminium construction that sliced 420kg of the mass of its predecessor.
More off-road assistance came too: automatic Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control, efficient new electrified Ingenium engines, a plug-in hybrid electric version and innovative infotainment and crash mitigation technology.
SInce 2015 the SVAutobiography range has topped the model catalogue as the most powerful and refined vehicles in Range Rover’s history. They come from Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations as SVAutobiography and SVAutobiography Dynamic units with V8 power and even more cabin luxury.
The Corner wishes way more additions for coming decades…