Land Rover is a British all-terrain vehicle and sport utility vehicle (SUV) manufacturer, based in Solihull, England. Originally the term Land Rover referred to one specific vehicle, a
pioneering civilian all-terrain utility vehicle launched on April 30, 1948 at the Amsterdam Motor Show, but was later used as a brand for several distinct models, all four-wheel drive.
Starting out as an internal division of Rover, Land Rover has designed and manufactured a range of four-wheel drive vehicles under a succession of owners, including British Leyland, British
Aerospace and BMW. Today, the marque is part of the Premier Automotive Group, a division of the Ford Motor Company, and one of the best internationally known and longest lived
nameplates of rugged SUVs together with the U.S. Jeep.
Land Rovers are manufactured primarily at the Solihull plant, near the major manufacturing centre of Birmingham, England. Production of the "Freelander" has moved recently to the
Jaguar car factory at Halewood near Liverpool. Another site at Gaydon in Warwickshire is home to the Land Rover R&D headquarters.
Land Rovers have competed in the Paris Dakar Rally as well as being the vehicle used for the Camel Trophy as part of a sponsorship deal. Now, Land Rover has its own G4 challenge.
The first Land Rover was designed in 1947 in the United Kingdom by Maurice Wilks, chief designer at the British car company Rover on his farm in Newborough, Anglesey. It is said that he
was inspired by an American World War II Jeep that he used one summer at his holiday home in Wales. The first Land Rover prototype 'centre steer' was built on a Jeep chassis. A
distinctive feature is their bodies, constructed of a lightweight rustproof proprietary alloy of aluminium and magnesium called Birmabright. This material was used owing to post war steel
shortages and a plentiful supply of post-war aircraft aluminium. This metal's resistance to corrosion was one of the factors that allowed the vehicle to build up a reputation for longevity in
the toughest conditions. The early choice of colour was dictated by military surplus supplies of aircraft cockpit paint, so early vehicles only came in a shade of light green; all models until
recently feature sturdy box section ladder-frame chassis.
The early vehicles, such as the Series 1, were designed to be field-serviced; advertisements for Rovers cite vehicles driven thousands of miles on banana oil. Now with more complex service
requirements this is less of an option. The British Army maintains the use of the mechanically simple 2.5 litre 4 cylinder 300TDi engined versions rather than the electronically controlled 2.5
litre 5 cylinder TD5 to retain some servicing simplicity. This engine also continued in use in some export markets using units built at a Ford plant in Brazil, where Land Rovers were built
under license and the engine was also used in Ford pick-up trucks built locally. Production of the TDi engine ended here in 2006, meaning that Land Rover no longer offer it as an option.
International Motors of Brazil offer an engine called the 2.8 TGV Power Torque, which is essentially a 2.8-litre version of the 300TDi, with a corresponding increase in power and torque.
Since its purchase by Ford, Land Rover has been closely associated with Jaguar. In many countries they share a common sales and distribution network (including shared dealerships), and
some models now share components and production facilities.
Since the 1970s, in remote areas of Africa, South America, Asia and the Australian Outback, the somewhat similar Toyota Land Cruiser has overtaken the Land Rover as the utility 4x4 of
choice, partly because of the better support network and reputation for reliability. In Australia at least, pricing is actually comparable or in favour of the Land Rover. Another reason seems to
be the 'leadfoot' factor - the workhorse Toyota models tend to have larger engines than the comparable Land Rover models.
In Britain, the Land Rover fell from favour with the farming community with the arrival of less expensive Japanese alternatives, with Daihatsu Fourtracks and Isuzu Troopers becoming a
common sight on farms around the country, until rust eventually ended their working lives. However, with subtle improvements to the Defender in the early 1990s, and with the introduction
of better, more reliable engines in the form of the TDi (especially the 300TDi) and the five-cylinder TD5, many farms once again have a Land Rover Defender in their yard.
* 1948: Land Rover is designed by the Wilks Brothers and is manufactured by the Rover Company
* 1967: Rover becomes part of Leyland Motors Ltd, later British Leyland
* 1970: Introduction of the Range Rover
* 1972: Series III launched.
* 1975: BL collapses and is nationalised, publication of the Ryder Report recommends that Land Rover be split from Rover and be treated as a separate company within BL
* 1976: One millionth Land Rover leaves the production line.
* 1980: Rover car production ends at Solihull, which is now exclusively for Land Rover manufacture. 5-door Range Rover introduced.
* 1986: BL, now known as the Rover Group, is privatised and becomes part of British Aerospace
* 1987: Range Rover is introduced to the U.S market
* 1989: Introduction of the Discovery (Disco I to enthusiasts)
* 1994: Rover Group is taken over by BMW. Introduction of second-generation Range Rover. (The original Range Rover was continued under the name 'Range Rover Classic' until
* 1998: Introduction of the Freelander
* 1999: Introduction of the second generation of Discovery (Disco II)
* 2000: BMW breaks up the Rover Group and sells Land Rover to Ford for £1.8 billion
* 2002: Introduction of third-generation Range Rover
* 2005: Introduction of the third-generation Discovery/LR3
* 2005: Introduction of Range Rover Sport
* 2005: Adoption of the Jaguar AJ-V8 engine to replace the BMW M62 V8 in the Range Rover
* 2006: Announcement of a new 2.4 litre diesel engine, 6 speed gearbox, dash and forward facing rear seats for Defender.
Since the very beginning all Series and Defender models have been used in a military capacity. Often this has entailed just slightly modifiying civilian models, but some dedicated military
models have also been developed. The Discovery has also been used in small numbers, mostly as liaison vehicles. Two models that have been designed for military use from the ground up
are the 101 Forward Control from the early 1970s and the Lightweight or Airportable from the late 1960s. The latter was intended to be transported by helicopter.
Military modifications includes 24 Volt electrics, convoy lights, electronic suppression of the ignition system, blackout curtains and mounts for special equipment and small arms.
Military uses includes light utility vehicle, communcations platform, weapon platform for recoilless rifles, TOWs or machine guns, ambulances and workshops.
One famous adaptation of Land Rovers to military purposes is the "Pink Panther" models. Approximately 100 Series IIAs were adapted to reconnaissance use by the British special
operations forces the SAS. For desert use they were often painted pink, hence the name. The vehicles were fitted with among other gear a sun compass, machine guns, larger fuel tanks and
smoke dischargers. Similar adaptations were later made to Series IIIs and 90/110/Defenders.
Series and Defenders have also been uparmoured. The most widespread of these is the Shorts Shorland, built by Shorts Brothers of Belfast. The first of these were delivered in 1965 to the
Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Northern Ireland police force. They were originally 109" models with an armoured body and a turret from the Ferret armoured car. In 1990 there had been
more than 1.000 produced. In the 1970s a more conventional armoured Land Rover Tangi was built.
The most radical conversion of a Land Rover for military purposes was the Centaur halftrack. It was based on a Series III with a V8 engine and a shortened belt drive from the Alvis Scorpion
light tank. A small number was manufactured, and they were used by Ghana, among others.
The Land Rover Wolf is also used by military forces throughout the world. In the British armed forces, the more expensive Pinzgauer, now built in the UK, is increasingly common in roles
previously the preserve of the Land Rover Defender, such as ambulances, artillery tractors and weapons platforms, with 188 Pinzgauers in service and 15,000 Land Rovers.
* Series I, II and III - the original off-roader
* Defender - Updated Series line, with a move from extreme utilitarianism.
* Freelander - compact crossover 4x4
* LR2 - compact all-new compact SUV coming to North America Spring of 2007
* Discovery/LR3 - mid-size off-roader
* Range Rover - full-size luxury off-roader
* Range Rover Classic - the original Range Rover, produced from 1970 to 1996
* Range Rover Sport - full-size luxury crossover 4x4
There have also been models developed for the Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom) (MoD)
* 101 Forward Control - also known as the "Land Rover One Tonne"
* 1/2 ton Lightweight - airportable military short wheelbase from the Series 2a
* Land Rover Wolf - an uprated Military Defender (Also known as Snatch Land Rovers)
* 109 Series IIa and III ambulance (body by Marshalls of Cambridge)
* Range Rover 6x4 Fire Appliance (conversion by Carmichael and Sons of Worcester) for RAF airfield use
* 130 Defender ambulance
Land Rover LR3 - SUV
Range Rover Sport - Mid-size SUV
Range Rover - SUV
At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, Land Rover introduced its first concept, the Range Stormer (Gritzinger, 2004). A "green" concept known as Land e was also recently shown.