Half a century of Range Rover history is phenomenal. This vehicle not only became the founder of an entire premium SUV segment but served as a prototype for several successful brands.
The embodiment of luxury and wealth, capable of becoming а fortress, a real wall to cover its owner from the outside world and human fuss. All this was the Range Rover. On June 17, 1970, for the first time, the world’s first SUV was presented, which became a revolutionary discovery in its class. However, the history of the “pioneer of the class of premium SUVs” began much earlier than its official presentation.
Source: Wallpaper Flare
The company’s first attempts to create an SUV were back in 1951 based on Willys’ army SUV. The goal was to create a reliable all-terrain vehicle for the needs of British farmers. During the war years, the Land Rover’s factory produced aircraft engines. From this production, many sheets of aluminum remained, which were used for the bodies of new cars. “Rover” – a manufacturer of military equipment – was thus provided with high-quality aluminum alloy, resistant to corrosion, which increased the service life of their vehicles. In parallel with the production of farmer machines, the company was developing more comfortable SUV models. But the first models of such vehicles were too expensive and not popular. It took several decades to create a future legend.
The first generation of the model was produced from 1970 to 1996. During this period, more than 300 thousand copies were sold. Real sales started in September 1970, and in 1971, the Range Rover was exhibited at the Louvre as a work of art and a design benchmark. No other vehicle had ever received such an honor. All the first cars had three doors, which caused a lot of criticism. But after the safety tests were carried out, it was decided to stop at this option. The standard model was much stronger and, importantly, was not subject to US import restrictions, which were based on very stringent passive safety requirements.
Source: Classic Driver
The turning points in the history of the brand were 1980-1982. During these years, a lot of major changes were made to the car. It was equipped with a powerful branded engine with a volume of 3.5 liters and a Lucas L injection system or two Zenith/Stromberg/Solex carburetors. “Automatic” – a four-speed gearbox – appeared in 1982. On the highway, the machine could reach speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour. For a heavy SUV of that time, this was a record.
1992 was marked with several implemented improvements such as a modernized V8, with 4.2 liters working volume and 202hp, an electronic traction control system, and an air suspension of all wheels, with automatically adjustable ground clearance. Before this, only trucks, buses, and selected luxury cars could boast of air springs. Perhaps, at this point, Range Rover became not only the most comfortable but also the most advanced and sophisticated SUV in the world. Аir suspension allowed solving the problem of controllability at a maximum speed of 180 km/h, without sacrificing cross-country ability. By pressing the appropriate button, the owner of the Range Rover could, willingly either cling to the asphalt or maximize the clearance for driving over rough terrain. Moreover, when reaching a speed of 80km/h, smart electronics automatically reduced the ground clearance to a minimum. In the same year, the VM turbo diesel (112 hp) of previous model years was replaced by a 2.5-liter Rover turbo diesel engine developing 111-122 hp. In 1992, a long-wheelbase version, the LSE (known as the County LWB in the US), went on sale. Disc brakes on both axles, permanent four-wheel drive, and automatic transmission became the cutting-edge solutions of their time. The 1992 model became the most expensive production model that Land Rover has ever offered.
Range Rover had been significantly upgraded over its long lifetime. One of such serious upgrades happened in the late 80s in the form of an anti-lock braking system installation in 1992 when the vehicle got traction control electronics. It was a real breakthrough in the early 90s. Disc brakes on both axles, permanent four-wheel drive, automatic transmission, and electronically controlled air suspension were also among the advanced solutions of the model year.
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