The Amazing Land Rover Origin and History

In the early 1970s the designs for the Range Rover were held in such high regard, that they were displayed in an exhibition at the world’s largest art museum – The Louvre, in Paris.

The Land Rover origin, however, has its roots in humble (and rather sandy) beginnings, where the very first designs were sprawled on a Welsh beach. In 1947, these designs took more permanent shape. Soon, the iconic Land Rover would make its first appearance, spawning a series of Range Rovers, Freelanders and other fantastic testaments to fine craftsmanship and phenomenal engineering.

But you can’t ignore the craftsman when you speak of craftsmanship. So let’s explore the history and the evolution of both, the machines and its makers.

The Land Rover Origin: Meet the Makers

Inspired by his own Jeep, Maurice Wilks began creating the very first designs of the Land Rover vehicle alongside his brother, Spencer at Newborough. In an attempt to fill a void in the markets, the design was created to include the Rover car engine and a Jeep chassis. The design originally featured the steering wheel in the center of the vehicle. This was done to make it suitable and convenient for both left and right-handed drivers.

The Land Rover was finally launched in 1978 at the Amsterdam Motor Show, where it was regarded as a huge success. Despite its British origin, they were a universal success, shipping to over 70 countries by the end of the year and to the U.S.A in 1949.

Like any other large brand, this was not without controversy. In fact, the introduction of the Station Wagon in 1956 or the Defender 110 was regarded as an attempt at tax evasion. How did that work, you ask?

The UK tax laws exempt buses from paying their taxes. But according to the definitions under these laws, a vehicle can be classified as a bus when it has more than 12 seats. The Station Wagon passed under the taxer’s radars qualifying on a technicality. This allowed it to present itself as a cheaper alternative to buyers.

More Machines: The Range Rover and Other Developments

Over the next few years, the Land Rover began to get larger, better and use more advanced features. In 1951, the Range Rover began to form over the idea of creating a larger Land Rover. But the idea remained stagnant, until finally in 1967, the first Range Rover was launched.

The Range Rover was built exactly like its initial prototype, an anomaly in manufacturing. Charles S. King, the creator of the Range Rover, had never actually intended it to become the symbol of luxury that it did. Soon after in 1989, the Discovery was launched as a more affordable alternative to the Range Rover.

Later on, in 1997, the Freelander was built with assistance from BMW to serve as a more compact version of the Land Rover.

They are also credited with creating the world’s first monster truck. This was at the time they attached tractor tires to a series IIA, in 1950 to meet the demands of the British Forest Commission. But, this is often subject to debate. And some credit this accomplishment to Bob Chandler.

In the 2000s, they began exploring eco-friendly alternatives and introduced hybrid versions at the American International Auto show, built to run on electricity. In 2013, they even introduced their plans for an All-Terrain Electric Defender. This was supposed to produce zero emissions.

Now the newer launches have evolved to include exceptional safety features and other remarkable abilities.

Corporate Switches, Separations, and Reunions

“The Land Rover” only came into existence in 1978. Earlier, it was simply a product line of the Rover Company. But, after the commercial success of the Land Rover, and the simultaneous popularity of the Range Rover, they sought to become their own company under the Rover Group.

In 1994, the Rover Group was soon acquired by Germany’s BMW. But this, in turn, led to the separation of Land Rover and Rover Group, when BMW, sold the former off to Ford in 2000 for approximately 6 million. At this point, the Range Rover and the Land Rover belonged to separate companies, until, in 2006, Ford bought the rights to the Range Rover as well.

But, in 2008, it was sold once more to India’s Tata Motors along with Jaguar Cars.

The Military Affiliation

The Land Rover’s military contributions are well-known and held in high regard. The most notable uses of Land Rover vehicles and machinery are probably by the armies of the U.K and Australia. From modifications and equipment to solid, military vehicles like the Land Rover Wolf, they have the bragging rights to having explored all avenues.

Some of the modifications they made included elements like:

  • Uprated breaks
  • Blackout lights
  • Heavy-duty suspension
  • Convoy lights

The Snatch Land Rover, with its armored body, was built specifically for the Military of Defence. Later, they even created a version of this called the Land Rover Perentie for the Australian Army. The 101 Forward Control and the Lightweight were other models built especially for the U.K military.

The Discovery was also put to good use as a liaison vehicle, and the Land Rover saw itself in a pink variation specifically for use in the desert.

12 versions of the Land Rover were also adapted by The U.S army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. They would later be officially designated as the Ranger Specials Operation Vehicles.

More Than a Motor

Despite its associations with motor run vehicles the Land Rover has since expanded to create bicycles, prams and even coffee. The Land Rover origin story is a fantastic one to remember. It encompasses excellence and nothing short of a revolution in the industrial field.

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