Range Rover Heritage
RANGE ROVER 40TH ANNIVERSARY
There have been three generations of Range Rover. The original, now known as
the Classic, went on sale in 1970 and continued in production, with numerous
upgrades and a multiplicity of variants, for just over 25 years.
The second-generation vehicle, known as the P38a, went on sale in 1994 and
was replaced in 2001 by the current model. The continuing success of the Range
Rover ensured that other premium makers jumped into the booming luxury SUV
market. The latest version has enjoyed higher annual sales than any previous
models and continues to be popular around the world. Sold around the world,
from London to Los Angeles, Sydney to Shanghai, Turin to Tokyo, the Range Rover
remains the ultimate choice for the luxury SUV customer.
"The Range Rover is really four vehicles in one," says managing
director Phil Popham. "It's a seven-days-a-week luxury motor car; a
leisure vehicle that will range far and wide on the highways and noways of the
world; a high performance car for long distance travel; and a working
From princes to politicians, from rock gods to rock climbers, from footballers
to farmers, the Range Rover has always appealed to a diverse group of
A second model line, the Range Rover Sport, was launched in 2005, aimed at more
sports-oriented driver-focused customers. It has been a great success, and in
2007 was Land Rover's biggest selling vehicle worldwide.
Later this year, a further member of the Range Rover family will be added, taking
the portfolio to three model lines. The new vehicle will be smaller, lighter
and more fuel efficient, tying in perfectly with the Range Rover brand's
commitment to environmental sustainability. Yet it will be no less premium, no
less luxurious, and no less special than the other Range Rover models. Link to
a complete timeline
"The idea was to combine the
comfort and on-road ability of a Rover saloon with the off-road ability of a
Land Rover. Nobody was doing it." Charles Spencer 'Spen' King - the father
of the Range Rover.
The inspiration came from the Rover car company's engineering chief for new
vehicle projects. Charles Spencer 'Spen' King worked mostly on Rover cars, not
on Land Rover (at the time, Rover's 4x4 wing). Yet Land Rover was in his blood.
His uncles were the Wilks brothers - Spencer and Maurice - who jointly founded
Land Rover in 1948.
"The idea was to combine the comfort and on-road ability of a Rover saloon
with the off-road ability of a Land Rover," says King. "Nobody was
doing it at the time. It seemed worth a try and Land Rover needed a new
'The In Vogue hinted at the need for a more luxurious Range Rover, while the
CSK alluded to a sportier future'
The amazing versatility of the Range Rover meant there have been many
extraordinary 'special edition' models, all aiming for a niche in the broad
Range Rover customer base. Early specials were developed by outside companies
and reflected Land Rover's slowness to develop its best seller (there were few
major factory changes through the '70s). So nimble minded specialists - such as
Switzerland's Monteverdi - often got in there first.
In the '80s, there was a wave of factory-produced special editions. Many
tested new sectors for the Range Rover. The 'In Vogue', for instance, hinted at
the need for a more luxurious specification, while the CSK alluded to a
There have been scores of memorable limited-edition Range Rovers, from luxury
Westminster, to sporty Vitesse to adventure-oriented Rhinoceros (complete with
wooden carving of a rhino, done by African tribesmen). But these featured below
are probably the most memorable and significant:
The Monteverdi Four Door
The production four-door Range Rover didn't go on sale until 1981 - although a
prototype had actually been built as early as 1971. There was clearly a market
for a car with rear doors, and coachbuilders weren't slow to spot it.
The Swiss company Monteverdi produced the most convincing four-door design, and
it went on sale in 1980. Land Rover engineers collaborated. The production
four-door Range Rover was, in fact, based closely on the Monteverdi model.
The 'In Vogue'
The 'In Vogue' was the first factory-produced limited-edition Range Rover. It
was based on a specially prepared and well-equipped vehicle loaned to Vogue
magazine, which acted as a prop for a fashion shoot celebrating the latest
wares from Jaeger and Lancôme, which took place in Biarritz, France, in 1981.
The 'In Vogue' that resulted was based on the photographic car. It had special
pale blue metallic paintwork, a more luxurious interior including wooden trim
and full carpeting, air conditioning and a picnic hamper. One thousand were
built, and were priced at an £800 premium. The 'In Vogue' set the marker for
the car's move upmarket, which was subsequently cemented by the production
Vogue model. This became the model name for the most luxurious Range Rover in
Two specially modified Range Rovers were built for Pope John Paul II during his
six-day visit to the UK in 1982. The pope rode in a special rear display area
protected by bullet-proof glass. These high-security vehicles were built
following the failed assassination attempt in 1981.
The limited edition CSK - just 200 were made - was named after Range Rover
founder Charles Spencer King. It was the first new two-door Range Rover in
several years, yet its significance went well beyond that. The CSK, launched in
1990, was a sportier Range Rover. Just as the 'In Vogue' began the route down
the luxury path, so the CSK opened the door to a new sportier future, as
epitomised 15 years later by the Range Rover Sport.
The CSK came with suspension anti-roll bars - the first Range Rover thus
equipped. This sharpened the on-road handling, reducing the body roll that had
been a characteristic of early Range Rovers. The CSK was an acknowledgement
that sharp on-road performance would be crucial to the future success of the
The Vogue was a move upmarket for Range Rover. But the limited edition Linley -
just 10 were made - was on another plane altogether: the price was £100,000.
Inspired by furniture designer Lord Linley, the 1999 Range Rover Linley
featured lustrous all-black paintwork. Inside, all the trim was in black
leather and the woodwork was piano black ebony veneer. Even the steering wheel
was in black wood. The thick-pile carpet was also black. It was the first Range
Rover (and one of the first luxury cars) to feature satellite navigation; it
also had a TV.
The first Linley model was sold to a Land Rover dealer in Wales. Within hours
of its arrival, it was stolen from outside the workshop and never seen again.
The Holland and Holland
The famous London-based gunsmiths collaborated on this limited edition version
of the series two model. Another upmarket vehicle, the Holland and Holland came
in special dark green paint, brown leather upholstery with cream piping,
part-green alloys, and had a DVD and TV. They sold for £65,000. Four hundred
were made (300 of which went to North America) and all came with the top-spec
4.6 V8 engine.
Armoured Range Rover
The Range Rover has long been a popular car with politicians and leading
industrialists. It has served as official transport for many heads of state,
including British prime ministers.
The latest model was officially developed, by Land Rover Special Vehicles, into
an armoured vehicle (before that, many private specialists produced their own
modified Range Rovers). The 'official' armoured vehicle, first launched in
2007, is certified for European B6 ballistic protection.