2018 is a very special year for Land Rover, as it celebrates its 70th birthday, and with over 30 different models launched since the original vehicle, they have certainly kept themselves busy!
Land Rover, owned by Jaguar Land Rover, has undoubtedly made a significant impact on the automotive industry, creating their seriously sturdy 4×4 in 1948, and defining the future SUV with their Range Rover in 1970. And eager to make even more impact, in April 2018 Land Rover marked 70 years since its debut at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show with a spectacular snow-art outline of the Defender imprinted on the side of mountain in the French Alps.
Image source: Landrover.com (11/06/2018)
The amazing 250-metre long creation was drawn by snow artist Simon Beck, who had to walk more than 20,000 steps and over 10 miles in freezing temperatures to reach the required location.
Simon said: “Making my snow art requires endurance, accuracy and strength – all attributes shared with the Defender. Its iconic shape is so simple and recognised across the world; this must be the most recognisable piece of art I’ve ever made.”
And it seems that the celebrations will not end there. Prof Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover said: “To reach the landmark of 70 years is truly special and we will mark it with a year of celebrations that represents Land Rover’s ‘Above and Beyond’ spirit and honours the people behind the world’s favourite SUVs.”
So, to celebrate the birth of what later became known as the ‘Series 1’, and went on to transform agriculture and four-wheel driving, we look at Land Rover’s history and reveal some fun facts.
History in the making
The Land Rover name was originally used by the Rover company for the Land Rover series, which was launched in 1948.
But, did you know that Rover’s Chief Engineer Maurice Wilks drew the original idea for the Land Rover on a beach at Red Wharf Bay in 1947?
Maurice Wilks was walking along the shoreline when he grabbed a stick and sketched a new vehicle comprising of two boxes and a wheel in each corner. The aim was to provide a mechanical ‘horse’ for British farmers, to help get the country recover following the war, and was intended to be a tool as well as transport.
A new breed of car
The ‘Series 1’ paved the way for a new breed of car in Europe; the 4X4. It was the first commercially successful civilian off-roader and was arguably the starting point of today’s SUV.
Its popularity was mainly down to being supremely functional. This light utility vehicle, with an emphasis on agricultural use, filled a gap in the market between jeeps and tractors (which were less flexible as transport).
Over the years, the brand has developed to encompass a range of four-wheel-drive models, including the Defender, Discovery, Freelander, Range Rover.
Five Fun Facts
Image source: Driving.co.uk (11/06/2018)
- The original Series I Land Rover cost £450 in 1948.
- Famous Land Rover owners have included the Queen, Sir Winston Churchill and actor Steve McQueen.
- The first Land Rover had the steering wheel in the middle, as the designer wanted a tractor-like appearance.
- The Land Rover Defender achieved on-screen fame when it was featured in the 1966 film Born Free which told the story of Elsa the lion, and Defenders are still used today by the Born Free Foundation.
- The Land Rover is regarded as a British icon and was granted a Royal Warrant by King George VI in 1951.
On a high
So, what is the enduring appeal of the Land Rover today?
- Practical and hardwearing – Plenty of rear loading space and hard-wearing interior materials, which have good resistance to mud and moisture and can be hosed down.
- Off road capability – They have a ‘go-anywhere’ capability, making mud, wet grass, farm tracks and snowy roads completely passable.
- Desirability – Land Rovers definitely have the ‘cool factor’. Numerous tv show appearances and high-profile celebrity purchases have continually increased exposure and brand awareness.
- Safety – Land Rover has a strong reputation for safety. The new Discovery Sport was awarded the maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP for its cutting-edge safety features including an Autonomous Emergency Braking system and an all-new pedestrian airbag…a first in the small-SUV segment.
Image source: Euroncap.com (11/06/2018)
In January 2018, Jaguar Land Rover announced that sales had hit a record high, with Land Rover sales rising 2% to 442,508. The best-seller for the year was the Discovery Sport, which sold 126,078 vehicles.
Land Rover has certainly come a long way in 70 years and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Happy Birthday Land Rover…we look forward to seeing what the next 70 years brings!
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