Land Rover historical timeline
Brothers Spencer and Maurice Wilks, the Managing and Technical Director of the Rover company, see the potential benefits of the American war-time Jeep as a civilian vehicle and purchase a few war surplus models for assessment purposes.
With initial testing proving successful, they commission a number of prototype models to be built at their Rover factory in Lode Lane, Solihull, a few miles from Birmingham.
Following successful trials and evaluation, the Land Rover project is approved by the Rover board in the autumn, although it is envisaged there will only be limited production initially as this is seen as a stopgap project before the economy improves and full-scale saloon car manufacture returns to pre-war levels.
The Land Rover is launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show on 30th April. Adverts begin appearing in the British press straight away, with a selling price of £450 The price excludes doors and many other features, which are all priced separately. Main production begins in the summer.
The basic 80 inch model is firmly aimed at the farming community, although a more "luxurious" station wagon model is launched a few months later which is intended for passenger carrying purposes. However, as this is classed as a passenger car, it attracts car purchase tax, making it much more expensive.
The AA become one of the first large fleet organisations to purchase Land Rovers when they take delivery of a number for use on night breakdown work in London. The new Land Rovers are able to carry more equipment than the traditional AA motorcycle combinations and also have the advantage that they can tow other vehicles in an emergency.
The British Army place their first orders for Land Rovers as they have been considering purchasing British made vehicles for a while and the Land Rover suits their requirements.
Exports to North America begin, although the Land Rover has to compete with the newly launched civilian Jeep, which has a much bigger marketing budget.
A special batch of 33 Land Rovers are fitted with Rolls-Royce B40 Mk 2B four cylinder petrol engines by Hudson Motors of London, as part of an initiative to standardise engines across a range of British military vehicles. To allow the Rolls Royce engine to fit, a number of modifications are carried out: These include: the transfer box being modified; modifications to the front panel, floor, exhaust, gauges and other items. Also, the rear axle is moved back an inch, resulting in the modified vehicles being known as the 81 inch. The bonnet also has to be raised to allow for a larger radiator.
More changes are made on the vehicles in response to customer feedback. These include the freewheel 4x4 system being replaced by selectable two or four-wheel-drive.
Amongst the cosmetic changes to the vehicle are that the headlights emerge from behind the wire mesh grille. A removable metal hard top also becomes available for the first time.
The 1.6-litre Rover engine is replaced by a larger-bore 2.0-litre unit, in response to customers wanting more power.
A more civilian-friendly prototype vehicle is built, called the Road Rover. This car’ priorities are different to the standard 80-inch Land Rover as sheer off-road ability is seen as a secondary consideration, compared with durability, practicality and on-road driveability. Gordon Bashford is the brains behind the Road Rover technical configuration, and decides against the use of the Land Rover’ chassis, instead choosing a shortened version of the Rover P4 platform, thereby retaining its rear wheel drive transmission. Where the 80-inch Station Wagon had a coach built body, the Road Rover uses simple, flat body panels (like the Land Rover) in order to keep down production costs. However, because of the continued success of the standard Land Rover model and the demands on time in Rover’ R&D department, the Road Rover project is eventually dropped.
The 50,000th Land Rover is produced. External door handles are also fitted to new Land Rovers for the first time. The factory built fire tender is offered for sale.
The Belgium luxury car maker Minerva purchases a license to produce specially modified Land Rovers, and then builds 10,000 for the Belgium army.
To increase the load space area, the Land Rover’ wheelbase is extended to 86 inches and the long-wheelbase Land Rover is also introduced.
Queen Elizabeth becomes the first British monarch to visit Australia and tours parts of the country in an open top Land Rover, thereby helping to promote the vehicle in an important overseas market.
The Rover company present war leader Winston Churchill with a specially made Land Rover to mark his 80th birthday. Among the vehicle’ unique features are an extra wide passenger seat and a heated footwell.
New gray and blue colours are introduced, in addition to the standard dark green.
A group of students from Oxford and Cambridge universities embark on a major overland expedition from London to Singapore, which generates significant publicity.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip travel through parts of Nigeria in an open top Land Rover.
The Diesel engine is introduced. The Turner Manufacturing company had been offering a diesel engine conversion for a few years and as these had proved more economical and just as efficient as the petrol engines, the Rover company take the decision to offer both petrol and diesel engine models on all new models.
Land Rover hosts a special NATO vehicle exhibition at its Lode Land factory and displays a range of its most advanced and specially made civilian and military vehicles to many important dignitaries.
After 10 years in production and with sales around the world, the Series II Land Rover is unveiled with more refined styling. This is intended to make it more appealing to regular car users who want more creature comforts. To mark the 10th anniversary, a special party is held at the Land Rover factory with hundreds of journalists and other invited guests brought in from across the country.
After disappointing sales in North America, the Rover board establishes the Rover Company of North America to try and significantly increase North American sales. Its headquarters are in
The Cuthburtson company from Biggar in Lanarkshire begin offering a tracked Land Rover aimed at companies and organisations which work in extremely difficult conditions.
The 250,000th Land Rover is produced.
The Spanish Santana company begins building Land Rovers under license. They are very similar to the models built at Solihull.
The series IIA with a 2.25 diesel engine is introduced.
The 12 seat 109 inch Land Rover is launched. As 12 seat vehicles can be counted as a bus in Britain, car sales tax does not have to be added on, making the selling price of the vehicle much more affordable.
The 500,000th Land Rover is produced.
The first Range Rover prototype vehicle is built and continues under the factory name of Velar. This was derived from the Italian word ‘’ meaning to veil or cover. The first 26 prototypes are fitted with a badge of the same name to disguise their identity.
Land Rover becomes part of the Leyland Motors empire (subsequently called British Leyland and BL). It means Land Rovers start to be sold alongside Triumph and MG sports cars, plus Minis and other standard saloon cars.
Marshalls of Cambridge are contracted to convert 72 Land Rover Series 11A 109 inch models into very high-spec vehicles to be used by the British SAS. As part of the modifications, all the vehicles are painted pink to blend in as much as possible with the colours of the desert as it is envisaged this is where they are largely be deployed. The vehicles are subsequently to be known as "Pink Panthers".
The original two-door Range Rover (the Classic) goes on sale after several years of research and development. It has independent suspension and a powerful new V8 engine.
It is the first vehicle to deliver permanent 4 Wheel Drive and features a split tailgate, clamshell bonnet and a continuous waistline.
The new car receives outstanding press coverage, with virtually every report praising the car’ looks and performance. Orders begin flooding in straight away.
The Land Rover Series III is launched while the 750,000th Land Rover is produced.
A British Army team, led by Major John Blashford-Snell, affirmed the all-terrain properties of the original Range Rover when they drive two cars from the north of Alaska to the southernmost tip of Argentina. They even cross the infamous Darién Gap, a dense forest and swamp that prevents road access between central and South America. It takes them 99 days to cover 250 miles of this dense jungle area of South America.
The Land Rover 1-Tonne Forward Control is announced.
Land Rover fan and ex Beatle Paul McCartney names his new pop song Helen Wheels, after the name of the Land Rover he uses to drive around Scotland.
Following continuing disappointing sales in North America, along with the introduction of tougher emission and safety regulations in the US, a decision is taken to stop sales to the US and Canada forthwith.
Following years of industrial disruption, British Leyland is taken under state control to prevent bankruptcy and the likely loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
A British Joint Services team makes a rare West to East crossing of the Sahara desert in four 101 military Land Rovers.
The 1 millionth Land Rover is built, a major landmark for the company.
The Land Rover Game model is introduced in Australia. This is a spruced up Series 111, which is intended to halt the decline of sales to rival 4x4 manufacturers.
A Range Rover wins the 4x4 class in the 30,000 kms (18,750-mile) London-Sydney marathon, the longest ever speed-based car rally.
Industrialist Michael Edwardes is brought in by the Government to manage British Leyland. He creates Land Rover Limited as a separate operating company. It means, for the first time in its history, Land Rover is under independent management. Government funding is promised to allow for a doubling of production by the 1980s.
A Range Rover wins the inaugural Paris-Dakar rally.
The Laird company in Anglesey builds a half-track Land Rover and begins trialling it over extreme terrain. Eventually, six prototype models are produced with the aim of selling them to international armed forces, but despite a rigorous marketing campaign and extensive international testing, there are no orders and the project is scrapped.
The inaugural Camel Trophy event takes place along the Trans-Amazonian highway in South America.
The first production four-door Range Rover is launched, along with the first factory-produced limited edition, the 'In Vogue'.
Land Rovers competes in the Camel Trophy event for the first time. It is held in Sumatra in Western Indonesia.
Pope John Paul 11 visits Britain and tours much of the country in a unique Range Rover, which is known as the "Pope Mobile". It is the first Range Rover fitted with bullet proof glass.
The 100,000th Range Rover is produced, 12 years after its launch. Automatic transmission is also introduced on the Range Rover.
Land Rover adopts coil sprung suspension with the introduction of the One Ten model.
The Land Rover Ninety is launched. Wind-up windows are introduced on Land Rover models for the first time, along with several other car-like comforts.
A diesel-powered 'Bullet' Range Rover breaks 27 speed records. It is the first diesel-powered car to maintain a constant 100mph for 24 hours, breaking all diesel speed records for a 4x4. To assist with the record attempt, a number of modifications are carried out, including the fuel filler being relocated to the lower tailgate to enable rapid refuelling; most of the glass being replaced with Perspex; the rear seat and mirrors being removed; a quick-release bonnet catch being installed and various additional gauges fitted.
The Range Rover is launched in North America by a new company called Range Rover of North America.
The Land Rover Cariba concept vehicle is demonstrated. It is based on a V8 Ninety and is fitted with a roll cage, leather seats, big tyres, extra lighting and given a silvery-blue metallic paint job and side stripes. Its purpose is to dip a toe into the pure 4x4 leisure market which is dominated by the Suzuki SJ.
The Rover group (which includes Land Rover) is sold to British Aerospace for £150 million.
The Range Rover Vogue is the world's first 4x4 to be fitted with anti-lock brakes.
The Land Rover Discovery is introduced as a three-door model only.
Land Rovers are renamed Defender 90, 110 and 130, with new 2.5-litre turbo-charged direct injection diesel engines.
The five-door Discovery is launched.
A limited edition run of 200 all-black sportier high-spec Range Rovers are produced to mark the 20 year anniversary of the marque. They are called Range Rover CSK, in honour of the vehicle’ principal designer, Charles Spencer King. Each car is individually numbered and incorporate a number of special features.
An official Land Rover Driving Experience along the "jungle track" at Solihull is launched and proves highly popular.
Land Rover North America is founded and takes delivery of a limited run of 500 Defender 110 vehicles which are powered by a 3.9-litre V8 engine. Range Rover is the world's first 4x4 vehicle to be fitted with electronic traction control and automatic electronic air suspension.
Land Rover North America follows up the success of the launch of the Defender 110 with the Defender 90 soft top.
BMW purchases the Rover group for £800 million, taking it away from British ownership for the first time.
The last two-door Range Rover is produced, with the second-generation (P38A) Range Rover being introduced.
Land Rover is asked to produce 31 heavily modified 101 vehicles for the forthcoming science fiction film Judge Dredd.
For the first time, production of all Land Rover models passes more than 100,000 a year.
The Land Rover Freelander is launched. It is planned to be a lower cost Land Rover model to compete directly against the increasing number of rival SUV vehicles being produced around the world.
The Discovery II is launched.
Freelanders compete in the last Camel Trophy event in which Land Rover enters. The event is held in Tierra Del Fuego at the southern tip of South America.
A very limited edition of six super luxurious Range Rover Linleys are launched. They are partly designed by Lord Linley, grandson of Queen Elizabeth.
Ford buys Land Rover for $2.7 billion, making it a stable mate again with Jaguar, as well as Aston Martin.
The three millionth Land Rover, a Freelander, is produced.
The third-generation Range Rover is introduced.
A-list Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie plays the lead role in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, for which a special all-black Land Rover Defender is created.
The 500,000th Range Rover is produced, 32 years after it was launched.
The first pilot Land Rover Experience centre opens in the UK, with others subsequently following world-wide.
Viewers of BBC’ Top Gear motoring programme name the Land Rover the greatest vehicle of all time.
The Land Rover G4 Challenge is launched as an updated version of the earlier Camel Trophy endurance event. It takes place across the world over a 28 day period, with competitors coming from many different countries.
The Discovery 3 introduced at the New York Auto Show.
The Range Rover Sport is launched.
The Range Stormer concept car is shown first at the New York Auto Show. It is a high performance sports tourer SUV, which showcases a future design direction for Land Rover.
The first in-vehicle cameras are offered on Land Rover models. They show the driver what is happening behind the vehicle on a dashboard mounted display.
The all-new Freelander 2 is introduced. The Land_e is also revealed at the Geneva Motor Show. The diesel-electric hybrid SUV incorporates the latest fuel saving technology and a unique 4x4 drive system.
The 4 millionth Land Rover is produced, a Discovery.
Ford sells Land Rover, alongside Jaguar, to India’ Tata company and the company name Jaguar Land Rover is formed.
The Discovery 4/LR4 is launched.
The Freelander TD4e (Stop/Start) is introduced. It delivers 10% improvement in fuel consumption over the previous model.
The Range Rover Evoque is introduced and production begins at the company’ Halewood factory on Merseyside.
The Land Rover DC100 and DC100 Sport are unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The fourth-generation Range Rover is launched. It is the world's first all-aluminium SUV.
The success of the Range Rover Evoque means 24 hours a day production is introduced at Halewood.
The one millionth Land Rover Discovery rolls off the production line. To celebrate the event, two Discoverys embark on a 50-day, 8,000-mile Journey of Discovery from Birmingham to Beijing.
Land Rover enters into a formal partnership with Bowler, the UK-based manufacturer of all-terrain performance cars and rally- ready vehicles. The Bowler EXR and EXR S both carry the ‘ by Land Rover’ motto that signifies the advanced 5.0-litre V8 engine that powers the EXR in some of the world’ toughest rally events. The new EXR S is the first Bowler-engineered car for road use. The Bowlers can go from 0 to 60mph in just 4.2 seconds.
The second-generation Range Rover Sport is unveiled by James Bond actor Daniel Craig, with parts of New York City temporarily shut down as part of the launch activities. Amongst the improvements are increased efficiencies from the 3.0 litre V6 engine.
Land Rover Discoverys complete a record-breaking London to Cape Town expedition, covering 10,000 miles in 10 days.
Three specially-made hybrid Range Rovers make the arduous 9942 kms journey from the Solihull factory to Mumbai in India (the home of parent company Tata Motors). The vehicles have both SDV6 diesel engines and a 47bhp electric motors and manage the journey (over all sorts of terrain and through all weathers and temperatures) with distinction.
The Special Edition Land Rover Defender LVX which is crammed with new technologies is launched as part of the 65th anniversary celebrations.
Land Rover continues to champion innovation by unveiling an Electric Defender research vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show. The vehicle delivers zero emissions while retaining its tough, go-anywhere capability, even wading to 800mm. The diesel engine and gearbox are replaced by a 70kW (94bhp), 330Nm electric motor twinned with a 300-volt, 27kWh lithium-ion battery, giving a range of more than 50 miles. In low-speed, off-road use, it can last for up to eight hours before recharging.
The 500,000th Range Rover Sport is sold.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is introduced.
The Range Rover Sport SVR is launched. It is able to go from 0 - 60mph in just 4.5 seconds, making it the fastest production Land Rover/Range Rover model ever.
The exclusive Range Rover SV Autobiography Black edition is launched at the New York Auto Show.
The six millionth Land Rover is produced; a Range Rover LWB SE Vogue.
A special one-of-a-kind hybrid Range Rover LWB is built especially for Queen Elizabeth to be used for review purposes.
The "bulet-proof" Range Rover Sentinel is produced and is promoted as the company’ most secure vehicle ever.
The 2 millionth Land Rover Defender is sold at auction for £400,000 with the money being split between the Red Cross and the Born Free Foundation.
Ten specially modified Land Rover Defenders with 37inch off-road tyres and other special features are created and heavily featured in the latest James Bond film, Spectre.
Global annual sales of all Land Rover models exceeds 430,000 units for the first time.
Land Rover opens a new £240 million manufacturing and education centre in Brazil as part of its continual global expansion programme.
The last Defender comes off the production line at a massive stage managed event at Solihull. There are tributes to the model from around the world.
The Land Rover Discovery is named Tow Car of the Decade by Practical Caravan magazine as it has won the annual award nine times out of the last 10.
The new Land Rover Discovery goes on sale in UK retailers at a price of £ The car includes Intelligent Seat Fold Technology for the first time in a full-size seven-seat vehicle configuration.
The new Range Rover Velar is unveiled at the Design Museum in London at a basic selling price of £43,495. The car includes Intelligent Seat Fold Technology for the first time in a full-size seven-seat vehicle configuration.
Land Rover opens a new visitor attraction at its Solihull manufacturing plant called 50 Years of Velar, the story of the Range Rover.
Land Rover celebrates its 70th anniversary as the world’s pre-eminent 4x4 manufacturer.