The Land Rover company can boast a rich history that started at the time of the World War Second. It is full of highs and lows, and also curious facts rarely mentioned in brand descriptions. The Indy Auto Man car practitioners gather the ten most fascinating pieces of Land Rover heritage.
The Land Rover company did not exist until 1978
Land Rover was created under the wing of the Rover Company, a car brand headquartered in Solihull. It became a separate entity in 1978, thirty years after the debut of the Series I, under the Land Rover Ltd. name – British Leyland subsidiary.
The steering wheel of the first Land Rover was located in the center
The Land Rover Series I appeared in 1948. The prototype, designed to compete with the Willys, was built on a Jeep chassis. Thanks to their past, Jeep and Land Rover are often compared to this day. But unlike its US cousin, it had a center-mounted steering wheel. As a result, this solution was considered impractical and abandoned even before production began. The center steering wheel position became popular almost fifty years later with the advent of the McLaren F1 supercar.
The man who designed the Range Rover Classic had previously made jet engines
Charles Spencer King, the core mastermind behind the Range Rover, joined the Land Rover team after a three-year stint at Rolls-Royce, where he developed jet and gas turbine engines. He moved to Rover only because the company planned to experiment with creating gas turbine cars. In 1950, he successfully tested JET 1, and in 1952, he accelerated a turbine-powered rover to 152 mph.
Land Rover was sold from the factory with tank tracks
Scottish rubber track manufacturer Cuthbertson developed the Series II Land Rover, which was produced with tank tracks in the 1950s. Designed for farmers who often worked in hard terrain, Cuthbertson’s SUV soon became the factory version. Unfortunately, only a few of these tracked SUVs have survived to our time.
The Defender 110 was originally sold as a bus to avoid taxes
Land Rover designed the Defender 110 to seat twelve people, which made it classified as a coach under UK law. Of course, buses were also not exempt from taxes, but their rate was significantly lower than that of ordinary cars.
Land Rover built a lot of cabovers
This little-known chapter in the company’s history began in 1962 with the Series IIA FC, which often served as a fire and rescue vehicle. A second cab-over-engine car, the IIB FC, was introduced in 1966. The civilian trucks were followed by a military 101 Forward Control, which was in use for many decades. The last in the history of Land Rover was the Llama, which appeared in the 1980s, built on the Defender 110 chassis. However, it did not go into production because Land Rover failed to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense.
Range Rover became the first car to be exhibited at the Louvre
Almost immediately after its release, the Range Rover was exhibited at the Louvre Museum in 1969 as an exemplary work of industrial design. It was the first car in the most visited museum in the world, home to the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa.
The first Range Rover SUV was originally named Velar
The modern Range Rover Velar appeared in dealerships in 2017, but the first nameplate appeared in the late 1960s, during the development of the very first Range Rover. The company used a derivative of the Italian word “velare” (meaning “to cover”) when registering pre-production Range Rovers. London-registered Velar company developed twenty-six prototypes, although some sources claim there were around forty.
The only pink SUV in the world
Land Rover SUVs are known to have been used by militaries around the globe. Most of these models, with minimal modifications, remained unchanged for decades. The Pink Panther, based on the Series IIA, is famous for being painted in this extraordinary color. Converted for the British Special Air Service (SAS), it was used in the Persian Gulf region. Purple pink may seem like an odd camouflage, but at the time, it successfully masked a vehicle against a sandy background, especially at dawn and dusk.
Land Rover built the first monster truck
Everyone thinks the monster truck idea originated in the USA, but Land Rover was the first with the concept in the 1950s. It was then that the British Forestry Commission required a vehicle that could manage deep streams and puddles, and Land Rover decided to fit the Series IIA with tractor tires and heavy-duty Studebaker axles.