Range Rover Classic – History
Range Rover Classic – The Birth of a legend
The Range Rover Classic was an idea conceived by Landrover in the late 1960′s to make their somewhat utilitarian vehicle brand appeal to a different demographic. Whilst the somewhat ‘agricultural’ series landrovers had been hugely popular since their conception by rover in 1947, one word which could never be associated with them was luxourious. This was to change with the introduction of the new flagship brand – The Range Rover Classic.
By the 1960s Land Rover were starting to become aware of the popularity of the Sports Utility Vehicle in North America which offered a different blend of on road comfort alongside off road capability. Rover acknowlged this demand for recreational off-roaders and in 1967 set up the progamme to build what would become the Range Rover Classic.
Range Rover Classic – The King had arrived
The ’100-inch station wagon’ programme (as Rover called it in 1967) was headed up by Charles Spencer King. Spencer King had previously worked on various truimph projects such as the TR7 and Stag and brought this knowledge and expertise with him to the Range Rover Classic programme.
Spencer King quickly set about defining the basic layout of the Range Rover Classic. It was Spencer King who introduced features such as coil springs and a permanent 4 wheel drive system to the vehicle. This decision, to make the Range Rover Classic a permanent 4 wheel drive car, required a completely new transmission unit to be built as part of the project.
By the time the Range rover classic was introduced to the world in 1970, it sported other additional features such as all round disc brakes, lightweight aluminum skin for the body, an8 speed permanent 4 wheel drive gearbox and a v8 engine. It was formally launched to the press on June 17th 1970 with the market slogan – “A car for all reasons”.
Range Rover Classic – The early years
It seems that almost imediately after it was launched people began modifying the vehicle. Originally sold as a 3 door model, by the late 1970′s a number of companies had sprung up to offer owners of the Range Rover Classic the option of converting their vehicles into a 5 door. This option was so popular that in 1981 Land Rover introduced the 5 door option for the Range Rover Classic and within only 3 years had discontinued the original 3 door model.
Range Rover Classic – Time for a change
By the mid 1980′s the Range Rover Classic was due a re-style and in 1986 it was given a significant re-vamp. A new gril complemented the re-styled front end which also sported a valance with optional fog lights. The mirrors were also moved, from their original position on the doors to their new position on the door pillars. Also altered was the position of the seat bases, which were lowered in order to make it more comfortable for taller owners to drive the vehicle.
1986 also say the move away from carburetters and the engines included new Lucas built fuel injection systems to assist in fuel economy and performance. The engine re-design also saw the introduction of a diesel option which was supplied by VM diesel and were to be superceded by the TDI model diesel engines in the early 1990s.
The petrol engine within the Range Rover Classic also changed during the late 1980′s and early 1990′s. It started out as a 3.5 litre engine before growing to a 3.9 litre in 1990 and on to a 4.2 litre in 1992. This last engine was still in use when the Range Rover Classic was finally retired in favour of the new P38 model in 1996.
Range Rover Classic – Legacy and Accomplishments
Given the off road prowess of the Range Rover Classic there is no wonder that it was chosen as the vehicle of choice for many of the toughest feats of endurance at the time. The Range Rover Classic has been credited with winning the 4 wheel drive class (twice) in the Paris-Dakar endurance rally, once in 1979 (the first rally) and then again in 1981. The Range Rover is also one of the first vehicles to cross both American Continents from North to South during the Darien Gap expedition in 1971 and 1972.
All these acomplishments as a little suprise given the Range Rover Classic’s reputation for poor build quality and unreliability however if you are looking for a final piece of proof of its legacy its worth mentioning one final thing. The Range Rover Classic was the winner of the ‘prestigous’ 2009 Top Gear Bolivian Challenge, beating a Suzuki and a Land Cruiser to drive the 1,000 miles through Bolivia. It was noted that the coil springs in particular gave the Range Rover Classic the edge in comfort over the other two (leaf sprung) vehilces.
Range Rover Classic – Additional Reading
There are many books out there about the origins and history of the Range Rover Classic, so why not visit our Range Rover Classic Book Pages to see which ones are worth looking into and may go well in your collection. Alternatively Amazon is just about the largest book store in the world and contains a number of great (and sometimes hard to find) books on the Range Rover Classic. You can click on the image below to be taken directly to their site.
This link will show all Range Rover Classic books available via Amazon.