Land Rover is an iconic brand within the 4×4 industry and was granted a Royal Warrant by King George VI in 1951. Land Rover is now owned by the British multinational company Jaguar Land Rover, which has been owned by India’s Tata Motors since 2008.
Land Rover now offers seven varieties of luxury vehicles. These are Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover Velar, Range Rover Evoque, Discovery, Discovery Sport and a Plug-in Hybrid variety of these models. Land Rover have two models no longer under offer as new in the UK, these are the Freelander and Defender, but they are readily available in the used car market. Land Rover also offers a Special Vehicle Operations department, branded as ‘luxury, performance and capability taken to new levels’, to further customise your vehicle from new.
Land Rover History
Using the chassis and certain other components from the Jeep, the first Land Rover was designed and created in 1947. This was followed in 1948 by the official release of the Series I at the Amsterdam Motor show. The original was based on the military and used the leftover paint from aircraft cockpits as the only available colour for some time. The Series II was however released in 1958, bringing with it the familiar barrel shaped body we can all recognise Land Rover for now. Over the next four years a diesel engined version of the petrol engined Series II was released, followed by the Series IIA in 1961. In 1962 however, a breakthrough in the structure of the car happened and the first Forward Control vehicle was introduced. This is where the cab is positioned above the engine, making the vehicle ideal for heavy lifting work.
Roll on to 1970 and the Range Rover is introduced bringing the comforts and style offered by cars. Following this in 1972, the V8 powered forward control vehicle is introduced, selling well to the military, but not the civilian market. It remained primarily a military vehicle. With the one millionth Land Rover being produced in 1976.
Fast forward to 1988 and the Rover group is acquired by British Aerospace and the Land Rover Discovery is released in 1990. The Series III models from the 1980’s are rebranded as Defenders to reflect their use by the defence forces. Then, in 1994, British Aerospace sold the Rover group to BMW and the more luxury Land Rover Defender was introduced, aimed at the high end SUV market.
In 1997 the Freelander was revealed to press as a competitor in the small SUV market. The Land Rover Freelander came with a monocoque body and independent strut suspension. This was completely new for Land Rover. This lead to the Freelander quickly becoming Europe’s best selling four-wheel drive car.
In 2000, BMW splits the Rover group. This leads to the selling of Land Rover to Ford Motor Company and the Rover car division is sold to the British Phoenix management company. Then in 2008, the Ford Motor Company sells Land Rover and Jaguar to Tata Motors, giving Tata the rights to put in Ford engines until 2019. This is the birth of Land Rover Jaguar, as they are known today.
Land Rover Enthusiasm
Being an iconic British brand, Land Rover has thousands of adoring fans. These fans like to collect, rebuild, admire and drive their Land Rovers. There are a few hundred different types of Land Rover events happening, not just in the UK, but all over Europe in any given year. Meet ups and contact events take place where the general public as well as car owners can view and show their vehicles in huge numbers. Organised off-roading events also take place, where the enthusiast can test the limits of their Land Rover’s capabilities in ready made or natural test tracks. Local clubs all over the UK have regular meetings where owners can share their passion for the brand and its heritage.
Some owners have gone to great lengths to help preserve the history of Land Rover by creating private collections of vehicles, from prototypes of old models from the 1950s to modern prototypes from as recently as 2014 in the case of The Dunsfold Collection of 147 cars. A prime example of an enthusiast family, the Dunsfold Collection was started by Brian Bashall in 1968 with an ex military 1962 109 inch APGP wader, and the collection is continued today by one of his sons Philip. The collection was last seen almost in its entirety at the 2017 Land Rover show, but has had a handful of vehicles at other Land Rover events in the past few years.
For an enthusiast who hasn’t had the pleasure of off roading their vehicle, or perhaps someone who wants to learn more about driving off road, Land Rover do their own series of Experience Drives. Firstly the taster session is an hour of on-the-road experience taking in knowledge and experience handling inclines, descents and wading. A half days’ tuition will cover a broader scope, including navigating steep inclines, descents, side slopes and water crossings. The full day experience gives you the chance to try various off-road elements and prepare for real world environments. There are also further sessions available offering advanced, bespoke and specialist training. When tackling these courses you should be prepared for anything that is in front, or behind, your Land Rover with advanced skills in maintaining momentum through tough terrain and more controlled stopping on slippery ground.
Land Rover Goes Electric
Currently Land Rover only offer electric cars as plug in hybrids, still using a combustion engine as part of the charging capacity and driving mechanism, but by 2020 Land Rover Jaguar have made a statement that all new models will be entirely electric. With the campaign headed by a new 300 mile electric luxury SUV, the Road Rover.
Land Rover, the iconic British brand in four wheel drive cars, with a history spanning from the late 1940s, will be one of the first companies to push into the fully electrified luxury SUV market and carry with it the wealth of experience of years of manufacture. So, for fans old and new, the future’s still bright for Land Rover.