After WWII, Rover was desperate to get back into peacetime production. Lead
designer Maurice Wilks had used a military Jeep on his farm and thought
that a similar vehicle fitted with a PTO would be perfect for civilian use,
allowing it to be used as both a car and a tractor. After having to
negotiate around post-war shortages, the final product, called the Land
Rover and later the Land Rover Defender, was a boxy, simple vehicle that
used leftover aircraft paint and rust-proof aluminum body panels. It was a
hit, leading to export across the world for use by farmers, the Red Cross
and several armies.
The brand’s range expanded in 1970 with the introduction of the
wagon-bodied Range Rover. Although originally as basic as the Defender, it
gradually moved up-market to become the definitive luxury SUV.
BMW took over the brand in 1994 when they bought the Rover Group,
eventually spinning off all the British manufacturer’s brands except MINI.
Ford Motor Company purchased the SUV brand for their Premier Auto Group,
eventually selling it alongside Jaguar to Indian manufacturer Tata in 2008.
Thanks to these shifts in ownership, Land Rover’s current lineup is made up
of vehicles designed by BMW and Ford and powered by Ford, Jaguar and Volvo
Fast Facts about Land Rover
- Thanks to the Land Rover Defender’s popularity in undeveloped areas, it’s the first vehicle seen by anywhere from 1/2 to 1/3 of the world’s population.
- The brand’s use of aluminum body panels was brought on by a shortage of steel in post-war Britain.
- Plans to make the brand BMW’s luxury SUV marquis were dropped when the success of the X5 proved that off-road cred wasn’t needed to get sales.
- The Land Rover Evoque’s platform is also used in the Volvo S60, but over 90% of its parts were redesigned.
- The brand has been quick to embrace technology for better off-road performance, starting with Hill Descent Control in 1997, which lets the computer control system ease the vehicle down rough terrain.
Land Rover Famous Models
- LR2 – The addition of a more advanced four wheel drive system and more ground clearance have turned the former Freelander into a serious off-road vehicle.
- LR4 – Formerly the Discovery, this entry offers the best off-road equipment without the luxury and expense of the Range Rover.
- Evoque – This softroader was built with eco-friendliness in mind after a backlash against gas-guzzling SUVs. A unibody structure and Ford Ecoboost 2.0l engine give this crossover excellent fuel economy, while its high ground clearance and optional four wheel drive make it a far better off-roader than its competitors.
- Range Rover – This vehicle is the benchmark of the luxury SUV segment, offering class-leading luxury and on-road performance while also remaining a competent off-road vehicle thanks to the company’s latest technology.
- Sport – This upmarket version of the LR4 gives buyers access to the Range Rover’s equipment in a smaller vehicle.