The world’s first luxury SUV, the Royal family’s favorite car brand, the real British beauty, after all. Yes, all of this is about the Range Rover!
Source: Classic Driver
The Range Rover is a world-class legend that at one time broke all kinds of records in many respects, winning the love and respect of people all over the world. A special feature of its “character” was unsurpassed cross-country ability, combined with comfort, which set it apart from the crowd of the same class vehicles. It was the only off-roader in the world that was awarded the distinction, while displayed in the Louvre as the best car of its time. The Range is also the only car to reach the finish line in an epic run across the American continent, from Alaska to Chile. And not to forget, it was the “one and only” favorite car of Royals such as the queens of England, Queen Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth herself, the Spanish king, and many others.
Prince Charles in his Range Rover
Source: Classic Driver
The Range Rover was the British answer to the American Jeep Wagoneer, but surpassed its rival and became something more than just an SUV. While this outstanding vehicle is considered to be the world’s first luxury off-roader, many car historians are not sure about this fact. The truth is that the first off-roaders of this brand were very far from being luxurious, and besides, the American automakers were the first to enter this specific market. However, the Range Rover became a true standard and benchmark in its class, and even now it is still an unsurpassed car celebrity.
Source: Wallpaper Access
The creators of the first model were Rover’s chief designer Maurice Wilkes and his brother, chief executive Spencer Wilkes who took the American Willys as a prototype for the new model. But with an acute shortage of steel in the UK, it was decided to use aluminum sheets left over from the production of aircraft during the Second World War in the design. The Assembly of the prototype model began in the spring of 1947 and was presented at an automobile exhibition in Amsterdam in the spring of 1948.
The 60s were the start of reconsidering vehicle concepts and making major updates to the design and engine. The experiments of the American automaker with the revolutionary all-wheel-drive Jeep Wagoneer, which combined the comfort of a passenger car with the capabilities of an all-terrain vehicle, caused considerable excitement around the world. It was not surprising that such a grand “all-terrain vehicle” maker as Rover seriously thought about creating something alike. Moreover, marketing research conducted by British experts in the mid-60s revealed quite unexpected trends. It turned out that more than 2/3 of the purchased Rover’s SUVs were used not for work, but for driving on roads and for outdoor activities. The management of the company made the right conclusions, after which the standard Land Rover was improved with various additional equipment options and a six-cylinder engine that allowed it to accelerate to 116 km / h, the appearance of a de luxe package that included all of the above. However, this was only the beginning. So, the result of painstaking work was the Range Rover, introduced in 1970. Further, the marketers and designers of the company made various upgrades to the model, the major ones of which were the 1980-1982, 1989, and 1992 model years, when a powerful 3.5 liters volume engine, a Lucas L injection system, and automatic – a four-speed gearbox, ABS and traction control electronics respectively were presented.
By the 80s, the modernization of the model went in the direction of increasing comfort. This became a new vector and a vision for brand development. The car was associated with the luxury class and the development was well-positioned in the growing premium market, where the Range Rover was one of the best in the all-wheel-drive segment. Attention was focused on the implementation of engineering and stylistic innovations. So, in the 1989 model year, the volume of the 3.5-liter aluminum V8 engine was increased to 3.9 liters and the car was equipped with anti-lock brakes – the first among cars with all-wheel drive.
The 1989 model year featured a new chain-driven transfer case that provided quieter operation as well as easier and smoother shifting from high to low gear ratios. The new transfer case included a Viscosity Control Unit (VCU) that automatically controlled the center differential in slippery conditions. This helped eliminate the need for the driver to manually lock the center differential, as the VCU performed this operation automatically. As for the interior, it’s been updated with new color schemes, interior door trim, an improved radio/cassette system, and improved heating and ventilation. All models, except for the flagship Vogue SE, were offered four new exterior colors and two new fabric seat materials. Other improvements included a new rear window wiper program, a new rear view mirror, and a redesigned antenna on the rear windshield for improved radio reception.
To establish its reputation as the “Best All-Wheel Car” awarded in 1988 by Playboy magazine, eight special editions of 1989 Range Rovers were prepared for the “Great Divide Expedition”, a 12-day, 1,128-mile hike in the Colorado Rockies. During this expedition, automotive journalist Jay Lamm drove one of these cars at high-speed several times.
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