History of the Range Rover

2nd, May 2017

     
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The genesis of this iconic vehicle began in 1951 when Rover began working on development of a larger, more experimental model compared to its established Land Rover Series. This new two-wheel-drive P4 vehicle was entitled the "Road Rover", and the project was led by Rover designer Gordon Bashford. But development of the vehicle was stopped in 1958, and the project abandoned for nearly a decade. 


Then in 1966, Land Rover engineers and designers King and Bashford began work again, after being charged once more with the brief of creating a new vehicle. This gave Bashford the opportunity to revisit his earlier designs. The decision by Land Rover to invest time and money in the design and development of a new model was partly inspired by the commercial success of Ford\\\' Bronco in the United States. Rover identified a gap in the UK market for a similar type of go-anywhere vehicle, and given Rover’s specialty in producing off-road vehicles, it was a gap the company was in a perfect position to fill. 

As work began on a prototype, King and Bashford developed the basic shape of the car and its mechanical package (exhausts, tyres etc.). Chairman of Rover’s new owner Leyland, Donald Stokes, was impressed by the preliminary designs and gave them the go ahead. It was in 1967, that the first Range Rover prototype became reality, with number plate SYE 157F and the classic Range Rover was born. The prototypes were called the Velar, Italian for veil, and the first 26 produced were all fitted with a badge bearing this name. The final design of the Range Rover was rubber stamped in 1969, and officially launched in 1970.

When first released the Range Rover received a positive response and was commended for its marriage of functional capability and innovative design - the first vehicle to offer permanent 4 wheel drive and the first to feature a clamshell bonnet, split tailgate, and continuous waistline. 

Rover also specified that Range Rover was to be fitted only with original Rostyle wheels made from pressed steel, and they remained the only wheel option available until 1986 when alloy wheels were introduced. 

In 1972, the Range Rover entered the history books as part of the British Trans-Americas Expedition. This was the first vehicle-based expedition to cover the Americas from north-to-south, and it was completed using a specially modified Range Rover. The journey included crossing the Darién Gap, a roadless terrain composed of forest and swampland. 

The Range Rover’s form and mechanics remained much the same for a decade, then in 1981, a four-door iteration was launched. It was another 5 years before a Range Rover with a diesel engine became an option, and then a decade later the Mk II version introduced a more luxurious dimension and refined design.

The third generation Range Rover was launched
     

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