Land Rover Range
Land Rover had 3 main model lines for many years: Range Rover, Discovery and Defender. For at least a decade there were rumours of a planned fourth line of small, recreational 4WDs to take on Suzukis, RAV4's and the like; the long awaited Land Rover Freelander went on sale in early 1998.
A 1995 Range Rover.
Land Rover invented the luxury four wheel drive with the Range Rover, first released in 1970. At the time it was intended to be a "car", rugged, with 4WD and capable of carrying a few bales of hay, but a car. It even had plastic trim and rubber mats; little did they know. It also had a 3.5L V8, full-time 4WD, and that long-travel coil suspension. The Range Rover moved ever upwards in specification and price. Two doors became four, automatic transmission became an option, the engine grew to 3.9L and 4.2L, it got electronic air-suspension, anti-lock braking and traction-control, air bags, ......, everything that opens and shuts. The company tried to fill the gap between the basic Land Rover and the Range Rover with "county" versions of the former but it couldn't really be done properly so the `Discovery' was invented.
Then in 1994 Land Rover released Range Rover mark two. It has a new body, much revised V8 engines of 4L and 4.6L, and the option of a BMW 2.6L 6-cylinder turbo-diesel (not in oz)! The previous model continued to be made as the `Classic' until Rover announced its demise in November 1995 with a 25th Anniversary edition.
Land Rover Discovery.The Land Rover Discovery neatly filled the growing gap between the basic Land Rover and the Range Rover. It uses the original Range Rover running gear and coil suspension. The body was new, easier to make, and built to higher standards (particularly for the American market). It has caught on like wild fire and has been the saving of the company - and many a Land Rover Owners' club too.
A piece of trivia:
I am told that Ford "owned" the name Discovery,
intending it for what became the Explorer, and that they were bought off.
Land Rover Defender.Once upon a time Rover just made 2WD cars and Land Rovers. Then there was Range Rover, "by Land Rover" as a badge on its rear proclaimed. Then there was also Discovery. At that time the basic Land Rovers were called ... wait for it ... 90 and 110. These numbers stood for the wheelbase lengths, in inches, except that the 90's wheel-base was really 92.9". (Well, one prototype did have a 90" wheel-base, but you couldn't change the name, could you, and `Land Rover 92.9' does not have quite the same ring about it.) To remove the confusion between Land Rovers, Land Rover Discoveries and Land Rover Range Rovers, the name `Defender' was coined. This was unusually imaginative for Land Rover and alluded to the military connection which is a nice little earner. Now we have Defender 90 (D90), the short wheel-base, and Defender 110 (D110), the long wheel-base. There is also the Defender 130 (D130) - with a 127" wheel-base (sigh).
Other Land Rovers.As well as the main models there are other variants, such as the Australian-made Perentie in 4x4 and 6x6 forms. The former featured in Les Hiddins' Bush-Tucker Man T.V. series.
Many older Land Rovers are still rattling on, some restored to as-new, or better than new, condition. 1998 is the 50th anniversary of the release of the first series one - originally intended as a stop-gap project for Rover after the war!
Other companies use Land Rover components as the basis of their own specials. Esarco made 6x6 and 8x8 all-terrain vehicles with Land Rover running gear. Foers Engineering make the Ibex for D90, D110 or Range Rover running gear. The Dakar is a (road-worthy) "buggy" based on the Range Rover.
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