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Range Rover Classic 1970-1996

R@nge Rover
Early Range Rover being restored as original.
Photo by Peter Bradley

The Range Rover was released in 1970. The plan was to create a more comfortable Land-Rover and in this it was embarrassingly successful. The specifications were astonishing for a four wheel drive of the day. Waiting lists became huge and a lucky buyer could immediately sell the car for well over its purchase price - if he or she chose.

The Range Rover introduced coil-springs, self-levelling suspension, full-time four wheel drive, all-round disc-brakes and a 3.5L V8 engine to the general four wheel drive world. The long-travel suspension gave excellent axle-articulation and cross-country ability. The centre differential was fitted with a diff' lock; it was also limited-slip on very early models but this feature was soon dropped as being unnecessary. That engine and those brakes meant that it went and stopped, if not like a sports car, at least like a real grand-tourer.

Overwhelmed by success and short of development funds Rover neglected, or resisted, many obvious improvements for a decade.

[R@nge Rover four door, jpg]

The four door Range Rover was not introduced until 1981 although many specialist firms had carried out conversions on both standard and lengthened chassis.

A factory automatic transmission was offered in 1982. Again, many private conversions had been performed before this. A 5-speed manual transmission came in 1983.

The long-lived V8 got fuel-injection in 1985. Fuel economy was ever an embarrassment, particularly in costly Europe, and Rover introduced a 2.4L VM turbo-diesel option in 1986, the engine being more refined than Rover's own diesels.

Land-Rover reentered the US market in 1987, with the Range Rover, which called for a dramatic improvement in quality control.

The Range Rover had started out as "just" a more comfortable Land-Rover but since then it had moved, ever further up market, although with seeming reluctance at times. This left a widening gap between it and the work-horse 90 and 110 Land-Rovers. County versions of the 90 and 110 struggled to fill the gap but it was an obvious strain. The Land-Rover Discovery was developed with unprecedented speed, and released in 1989, to do the job properly.

The new 3-model range let Land-Rover give the Range Rover its head. The V8 grew to 3.9L in 1989. (The VM diesel alternative grew to 2.5L in 1990.)

1992 saw great technical developments: anti-lock brakes, Morse or silent-chain transfer-case with a viscous-coupling on the centre diff' to replace the manual diff' lock. Air-bag suspension was offered on the top models.


A longer wheel base (108", right) model was introduced, which not only provided more leg-room but cured that cramped look under four doors. A 4.2L version of the V8 was released. The VM diesel option was dropped in favour of Land-Rover's own 200 Tdi diesel.

The original design was however reaching the end of its tether. Rumours of a new Range Rover had been about since the mid 1980s, if not earlier. They became reality in 1994. The old car continued to built, as the Range Rover `Classic', alongside the new one. Then in November 1995 its end was finally announced with a plan to build just 25 25th-Anniversary specials.

- 4wd.sofcom.com/4WD.html

Further Reading:

Range Rover Classic SE 1994-1995

Manufacturer's specifications:
  • station wagon, 5 seats, 4 doors, twin air-bags, ABS
  • loa: 4478mm, width: 1813mm, height: 1792mm, weight: 2011kg (unladen)
  • GVM: 2720kg, towing: 750kg onroad, 500kg off road (unbraked)
  • wheelbase: 2540mm (100"), track: 1486mm/1486mm, grnd clearance: 206mm
  • approach: 30-33, departure: 30-33
  • turning radius: 5.95m
  • 3950cc petrol V8 Efi 2v/cyl ohv
  • bore: 94mm, stroke: 71mm, c.r.: 8.13:1
  • power: 134kW at 4750rpm, torque: 304Nm at 2600rpm
  • transmission: 4a, hi/lo, full-time 4WD, Morse chain, centre diff' and viscous-coupling, traction-control
  • suspension: beam-air/beam-air, brakes: disc/disc (ABS), transmission hand-brake
  • tyres: 205R16 on 16x7 wheels, fuel-tank: 88.5L
  • $97,600 (Aus) ....

  • Also LSE (long wheelbase)
    • loa: 4676mm, wheelbase: 2743mm weight 2150kg
    • turning radius: 6.35m
    • $103,500 (Aus) ....

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