Range Rover Classic 1970-1996
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
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:
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.htmlFurther Reading:
Range Rover Classic SE 1994-1995Manufacturer's specifications:
4WD Vehicles A-Z
4WD Toys & Models
History of 4WDs