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80 Years' of Land Rover

Designer, Maurice Wilks designed the original vehicle on his farm in Anglesey, Wales. Up until 1978, the Land Rover was a product line of the Rover Company, a manufacturing business founded by Starley & Sutton Co. 


80 Years' of Land Rover


image caption

Jane Smith

John Smith

Designer, Maurice Wilks designed the original vehicle on his farm in Anglesey, Wales. Up until 1978, the Land Rover was a product line of the Rover Company, a manufacturing business founded by Starley & Sutton Co. 

Quick Fact: Due to military surplus supplies, early vehicles only came in various shades of green.

In 1948, the first Land Rover launched at Amsterdam’s Motor Show, where it was an instant success. By the end of the year, the company was exporting vehicles to over 70 countries. However, the first export to the U.S wasn’t until 1949. 

Quick Fact: Heavily inspired by Jeep, the body of the original Land Rover was built on Jeep’s chassis and axles. 

During the 50’s, a new family of Land Rovers became available. A lot of modifications were made to ensure it could replace the horse on a farm and eventually became a farmer’s best friend. However, later on in the decade, the company veered away from the work, farm hand image and it became popular for exploration and recreational activities.

Quick Fact: Land Rover claims that it was the first vehicle to be seen by one-third of the world’s population. 

In 1967, Rover became part of Leyland Motors Ltd, a renowned lorry and bus manufacturer and in 1968 Leyland including, Rover and Triumph joined the British Motor Corporation (BMC). The merge also incorporated Austin, Morris and Jaguar - all these brands united became known as British Leyland. 

Quick Fact: By 1966, Land Rover had manufactured 500,000 vehicles. 

In 1970, the Range Rover was born and unlike other 4x4’s on the market. the original Range Rover was not designed as a luxury-type vehicle. It’s interior was fairly basic, but it was the coil springs, the permanent four-wheel drive and four-wheel disc brakes is what made this range road worthy as well as possess the articulation for off-road driving. 

Quick Fact: The British Trans-Americas Expedition began in December 1971 and was completed in June 1972. The two Range Rovers had started in Anchorage, Alaska and had ended in the Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

In 1978, Land Rover Limited was created. For the first time, it was its own entity and from here on, many advancements were made as well as a big increase on the production line. Following the launch of the four-door Range Rover in 1981, production reached 100,000 by 1982. 

Quick Fact: In 1986 a diesel-powered Range Rover launched with a 2.4 litre turbocharged VM engine which broke 27 speed and endurance records.

In 1990, Range Rover celebrated its 20th anniversary with the introduction of a four-wheel, four-channel ABS braking system. The first of its kind, designed for optimum performance off-road and on-road. During the 90’s new versions of the Discovery were launched, along with the smaller Freelander. In 1994, The Rover Group was acquired by BMW. However, in the year 2000, BMW breaks up the Rover Group and sells Land Rover to Ford.

Quick Fact: Land Rover disagreed on paying taxes, and went to great lengths to make sure their customers didn’t have to either. The Defender 110 could technically fit up to 12 people, qualifying the vehicle as a bus which excluded it from the tax system.

The Range Rover Sport was launched in 2005, similar design to the Discovery 3 it can be specified with the Dynamic Response System and with Ford’s purchasing spree of premium vehicle companies such as Jaguar, the Range Rover Sport was offered with a Jaguar V-8 engine. However, due to financial circumstances, Ford sells Land Rover and Jaguar together to Tata Motors in 2008. Both companies were already sharing same of the distribution routes in dealerships which made the transition easier for the company. 

Quick Fact: In 2003, Land Rover was named as ‘The Greatest Car of All Time’ by BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ television programme.

In 2013, Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to discontinue the Defender and by 2015 the model had discontinued, which left off-road enthusiasts devastated. Although, 2017, 80 years’ on from the original birth of Land Rover and the company is still continuing its world class 4x4 innovation. For 2017, Land Rover will release the ‘Range Rover Reborn’ program - a mustard-yellow 1978 Range Rover reissued and certified by the Land Rover Classic.