Land-Rover History


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1884: Starley and Sutton start making the Rover safety cycle - the name stuck and 'Rover' still means 'bike' in e.g. Poland.
1947: First prototype Land Rovers built (based on the WWII Willys Overland Jeep) including the centre-steer prototype.
1948-1958: Series One (SI) Land Rover.
The 80" SWB Land Rover with a 1.6L ioev engine world debut at the Amsterdam motor show 30 April 1948. It featured full-time 4WD with a front free-wheel mechanism which could be locked by a "ring-pull" control. The head-lights were mounted behind the radiator grille (which made them hard to clean). The side-lights were mounted on the fire-wall or bulkhead.
1949: 80" Station-wagon model.
1949: First Land-Rovers used on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme (SMHEA).
1949: Head-lights "through" the radiator grille.
1950: Selectable 2WD or 4WD - the free-wheel mechanism dropped.
1951: 2-litre engine. 80" station wagon discontinued.
1952: Exterior door-handles, new inverted-T radiator grill, side-lights on wings.
1953: 107" model introduced; SWB lengthened to 86".
1954: Station wagon reintroduced.
1955: 10-seater LWB station wagon introduced (the ultimate "Meccano" kit car?).
1956: Wheelbases increased by 2" (88" and 109"), except 107" SW.
1957: Optional 2-litre diesel engine. Fully-floating halfshafts on LWB.

1958-1961: Series Two (SII) Land Rover.

1958: (April) S2 introduced - 2.25L petrol engine. Some early cars had the old 2-litre petrol engine fitted.
1959: 109" 10 seater station wagon introduced.
1959: November, 250,000th Land-Rover produced.
1961: 2.25L diesel introduced.

1961-1971: Series Two A (SIIA) Land Rover,
2.25L petrol or 2.25L diesel engine.

1962: 12-seater LWB station wagon; This could be seen as a tax avoidance measure as 12 seats made it a bus and buses did not carry sales-tax!
1962: Forward Control Land Rover introduced.
1965: (approx.) prototypes of the Military Lightweight.
1966: Optional 2.6L 6cyl petrol engine on LWB and FC. Improved FC (series 2B).
500,000th Land-Rover produced.
1967: New dashboard, single concealed wiper motor.
1968: Headlamps move to wings on export models.
1968: Military Lightweight 88" air-transportable.
1969: Stronger Salisbury rear axle on LWB models.
1970: Headlights move to wings (see 1968 above).

1970: Range Rover released (see below)

1971-1983: Series three (SIII) Land Rover.

1971: (Oct) Series 3 introduced. New all synchromesh gearbox. 750,000th Land-Rover produced.
1972: Stronger Salisbury rear axle standard on LWB.
1972: SIII version of the Military Lightweight introduced.
1972: Military 101" Forward Control introduced - 3.5L V8, LT95 4-speed full-time 4WD.
1974: End of Land Rover imports into USA (RR imports started 1987).
1976 June: 1,000,000th Land-Rover produced.

1979-1985: Stage-1 Land Rover,
leaf-sprung LWB (109"), 3.5L V8, LT95 4-speed full-time 4WD; also an Australian version powered by the Isuzu 3.9L 4BD1 4-cyl diesel.

1981: Camel Trophy switches to Land Rover products - Range Rover in this instance.

1983: Land Rover 110, coil sprung, LWB (110")

1984: Land Rover 90, coil sprung, SWB (actually 92.9").

1988: British Aerospace take over Rover Group.

1989: Land Rover Discovery released (see below).

1989 Dec: Rover announces that the hyphen in Land-Rover was being dropped - Sandy Grice 1/'97.
1990: Camel Trophy adopts the Land Rover Discovery.

1990: Land Rover Defender 90, 110, 130, including crew cab, ... (new marketing name for 90 / 110 / 127 and gradual improvements).

1994: Rover Group sold to BMW.

1994 Sept: New Range Rover released (see below)
original Range Rover continues as the Classic

1996: UK Ministry of Defence orders 8000 Land Rover XD110 and XD90 (XD - eXtra Duty) 4WDs to be delivered 1996-2000, and 800 XD130 ambulances, ending months of speculation.

1996 Feb: Last Range Rover Classic built.

1997: Modern, small Land Rover, code name CB40, finally revealed and christened Freelander. On sale in UK late 1997. Also used in the 1998 Camel Trophy!

1999 Sept: The 'Rover Group' name to disappear except for legal and accounting purposes; with all major decision making taking place at BMW, and no local Rover corporate structure, it is just another 'marque' owned by BMW.

2000 March: BMW decides to sell Landrover to Ford for about US$2.7bn, and later Rover cars (and MG) to a management group 'Phoenix'.

2000, July 1: Ford takes control of Land Rover.

2008, March 26: Tata Motors of India agreed to buy LandRover, and Jaguar, from Ford for approximately us$2.3billion (plus a contribution to the J & LR pension fund). The deal was completed on 2 June 2008.

2015, April 2: Land Rover produced is 6,000,000th vehicle, a Range Rover LWB Vogue SE.

Range Rover

1970: Range Rover,
3.5L V8, 100" WB, 4-speed manual, full-time 4WD, locking centre diff', coil springs, self-leveling. (On very early models the centre diff was also limited-slip but this feature was dropped as unnecessary.)
1981: 4 door Range Rover introduced.
1982: 3-speed auto option (various conversions before this).
1983: 5-speed manual gearbox.
1985: fuel-injected 3.5L V8.
1986: VM 2.4L 4-cyl turbo-diesel option (unpopular in Australia).
1987: Imports into USA begin
1989: Imports into Canada begin
1989: 3.9L V8.
1990: VM 2.5L turbo-diesel.
1992: electronic air-suspension, ABS, electronic traction control, silent-chain transfer-case with viscous-coupling centre diff. (200 series Tdi replaces VM diesel option.)
1992: Vogue SE, 3.9 V8, 2540mm (100") WB, Vogue LSE, 3.9 V8, 2743mm (108") WB (4.2L V8 in UK). 2.5L Tdi becomes the diesel option. Morse chain, or silent chain, transfer case with viscous coupling instead of diff' lock. Air-suspension on top models.
1994: driver and passenger air-bags. 300 series Tdi new diesel option.

1994 Sept 29: New Range Rover released,
(code name Pegasus) on 108" WB, electronic air suspension, ABS, traction control, 5-speed manual transmission (R380) or 4-speed auto, semi-floating hubs, rear-axle located by Panhard rod and composite (fibre-glass?) radius arms (no A-frame), more rounded styling.
  • 4.0 V8, base and SE.
  • 2.5 TD, base and DSE, (6 Cyl BMW turbo diesel).
  • 4.6 V8 HSE (automatic only).
  • See: 'Rover Gets a Makeover' S.A.E. (Australia) journal p60-66 Oct/Nov 1994.
1995: The original Range Rover continued as the Classic until its end was announced in November 1995.
1996 Feb: Last Range Rover Classic (#317,615) made.

2001 late: New Range Rover III based on the BMW X5 with all independent suspension, BMW V8 petrol, diesel, and later V12(?) rumours (came to nothing).
2002 January: Range Rover III at Detroit Motor Show.
2002, July 17: 500,000th Range Rover built (total of all models).
2005: Range Rover Sport on sale.

2012 August: Range Rover IV made its debut at the Paris Motor Show. With more aluminium in its structure, it was 400kg lighter than the previous model.
2013 March: A new Range Rover Sport premiered at the New York Motor Show.

Land Rover Discovery

1989: Land Rover Discovery is unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Tuesday 12 September. Coil sprung, full-time 4WD, 5-speed manual LT77 gearbox, LT230T transfer case, locking centre diff, 100" WB. Initially 3.5L V8 and 2.5 (4cyl) TDi, 2 door.
1993: 1994cc Mpi petrol 4cyl option - for pricey-petrol Europe
1994: 3.9L V8 and 2.5 (4cyl) TDi, 2 door and 4 door, 5-speed man' (R380) and 4-speed auto, driver's air-bag and optional passenger air-bag.
1998 Sept: Updated Discovery, Code-name Tempest, finally launched (5 September) - 4.0L V8 or 5-cylinder Td5 diesel, longer and wider than old car.
2004: All new Discovery 3 with all independent suspension.
2012 February: The 1,000,000th Discovery was produced.


1997: CB40 is revealed and named as Freelander - the new small Land Rover with monocoque construction, transversely mounted engine and no low-ratio or "proper" transfer-case. Nevertheless it takes on the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V head-on.
2000 August: 2.5 litre V6 Freelander, and 2-litre Td4 diesel, released in UK and USA.
2006: All new Freelander-2 on sale, 3.2-litre I6 or 2.2-litre turbo-diesel 4-cyl..


2011: The Range Rover Evoque went on sale (Evoque is to Range Rover as Freelander is to Discovery).

Thanks to: Michael Bishop, Mike Ford, British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (Gaydon), Rod Genn, Tony Hutchinson Land Rover The Early Years (1982), Dixon Kenner, Land Rover Owners Club (LROC), Land Rover Register, Tony Luckwill, Anthony Maeder, Todd Mills, Range Rover Register, Graham Robson The Range Rover / Land Rover (1979), Rover Australia, S.A.E. Journal, Phillip Simpson, K.&J.Slavin & G.Mackie Land Rover (1981), Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority (SMHEA).

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