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THE LAND ROVER STORY

May the force be with could as easily have been a Land Rover slogan as a phrase from the film Star wars for the company has,   in it's nearly 50 years,   taken the sheer strength of the original Land Rover - now known as the Defender and beloved of farmers and the world's armed services - and made of it increasingly more sophisticated variants and a total of over 2 million vehicles, over two thirds of which are still believed to be in existence surely a tribute to their reliability and rightness of construction.

Winston Churchill with Series I Land Rover

The Range Rover, the vehicle of princes with tremendous style and that awesome off-road capability, and more recently,   the Discovery, a smaller version of the Range Rover but with a character and market place all of it's own, have both tapped into whole new markets - indeed almost entirely created them in the Range Rover's case. 

The Defender is closest to the original 1948 concept and is as tough as ever, no softening creeping in when the name was last changed in 1991 to the Defender, although the interior is now rather more civilised than the earlier very utilitarian vehicles yet as versatile as ever in long and short wheelbase versions, a true workhorse for all conditions and in use world-wide in the most extremes of climate and  terrain.  

In the 5 years since the launch of the Discovery it has become a huge seller for Land Rover, over 130, 000 being exported to some 89 countries world-wide, making it even more successful than it's bigger brother the Range Rover and one of the brightest stars in the Rover firmament, a smart but tough all purpose "car" with an enviable reputation and a success story that was undoubtedly one of  the features that attracted the acquisitive intentions of owners BMW. Little surprise that the Discovery has caught on in such a big way, not only is it cheaper than the prestigious Range Rover, which has moved steadily upmarket each year, it offers all of the abilities of that car in a size acceptable to a wider audience.

 The interior has very comfortable seats, a spacious cabin, that high driving position which gives a commanding view of the road, vast amounts of head and legroom and cabin stowage and 3 engine options among them a very popular 2.5 litre turbo diesel engine with 111 bhp and a massive 196 lbs/feet of torque available with a choice of 4 speed automatic or 5 speed manual gearboxes with a permanently engaged 4 wheel drive system. Petrol 3.9 V8i and 2 litre Mpi engines are the other options in the range which includes both 3 and 5 door vehicles in 2 trim levels priced from £17995 to £26995.

A timeless classic - legend even - the Range Rover has long been one of the brightest stars in the Rover firmament, twenty five years old now and a huge world-wide success with massive sales in virtually every country in the world and with little real competition, it has an enviable reputation and is a key part of the Rover success story. Earlier this year Land Rover built upon that success by launching a new classic, the Range Rover for the turn of the century,   with a huge number of changes most notably in the looks but not so wildly different as to deter the more conservative buyer. The all new car is a massive improvement on it's predecessor and seems sure to continue this success story, against all comers, well beyond the end of the millennia. It's more grandly prestigious than ever, a tad larger than it's forerunner but visually very similar except at the rear, a change which has released a fair amount of extra load space.

The big chunky body clothes a truly spacious cabin with vast amounts of head and legroom, a limousine in space and quietness terms but with the ability to go just about anywhere on earth in luxury and comfort, the cabin as well fitted as a luxury car with 3 engine options, petrol and diesel, topped by a 4.6 litre V8 petrol monster with a potent 225 bhp and 277 lb feet of torque, enough to easily tow 3.5 tons, sufficient to lazily propel the big car anywhere, remarkably quietly and smoothly, at up to 125 mph and with the ease of an automatic gearbox that has dual ranges, 4 speeds and a permanent 4 wheel drive system. The Range Rover has been the undisputed number 1 for nearly 25 years, it may not be the cheapest but, as ever, you get what you pay for.

First Published 1993 - Article © Graham Benge 2007

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