25 July 2023
In this next part of our celebratory A to Z, we go from the Discovery to the First Overland...
Look at the DC100 (Defender Concept 100) unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2011 and you can see where the company was heading with the Defender replacement, even if Land Rover says they are completely different. Enthusiast reaction to it was divided. As a replacement for Defender it was universally rejected, but as a new model in the line-up – that would have been a different story.
The Defender name was announced on 11 September 1990 to give what were previously the Ninety, One Ten and 127 a family name. As part of the changes, the models became numbers and were rounded to 90, 110 and 130. Apart from engine changes and a dash makeover in 2007, very little really changed on the model until production of the L316 model finally ceased in 2016. The replacement L663 was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2019.
The Discovery was designed to sit between the utility models (yet to get the Defender name) and the Range Rover, which was moving upmarket, in 1989. It was an immediate success and has evolved four times in the intervening years: Discovery 2 arrived in 1998, Discovery 3 in 2004 with the similar, but different, Discovery 4 arriving in 2009. The current model, just called ‘Discovery’ was launched in 2016.
Replacing the Freelander 2 – Freelander 3 doesn’t really work as a name – the Discovery Sport also proved to be a success and started life with the same engine that powered the Freelander 2, before being the first model to get the Ingenium engine. The revamp in 2020 was more than a light makeover – it should have really been called Discovery Sport 2.
Wanting to get a foothold into China’s burgeoning motoring market, the company set up a promotional stunt to climb to Heaven’s Gate in a Range Rover Sport. The 5.0-litre supercharged Sport conquered the 99 hairpins of the Tianmen Mountain Road before dispatching the 999 steps to reach the natural stone arch.
The Dunsfold Collection was started in 1968 by Brian Bashall and has flourished into the largest collection of Land Rovers in the world. Most of the Land Rovers in the collection are prototypes or exceptionally rare and therefore of significant historical value. The Dunsfold Collection is a charity and its three trustees, Philip Bashall, Richard Beddall and LRM contributor Gary Pusey are all experts on the brand. The Collection will be bringing some of its vehicles to LRM Live at Malvern on 20-21 May, so come along for a chance to see some of the great vehicles.
There is nowhere better to test vehicles than the Eastnor Castle estate on the edge of the Malvern Hills in Herefordshire.
Land Rover has been using the 5000-acre estate to assess its vehicles for more than six decades. It has also played host to Camel Trophy and G4 Challenge selections as well as the inaugural Land Rover Trophy. You can explore it too; experiences are available from £129.
Propshafts running from the front of a transverse-engined 4x4, like the Evoque, have to be hefty units, so the electric rear axle drive (ERAD) was conceived to do away with that. Powered by battery rather than direct drive, it was shown on the LRX concept vehicle but didn’t actually become a production reality until the Evoque and Discovery Sport PHEVs were launched in 2020.
The ‘baby’ Range Rover launched at the Paris Motor Show in 2010. Victoria Beckham had input into the design, and it still remains a sought-after fashion item. Available in the sought-after two-door coupe and more practical four-door, a convertible version was also available. A second-gen model was introduced in 2020.
Land Rover Experience
Spearheaded by Roger Crathorne, Land Rover Experience sought to bring Land Rovers to life, initially at shows, but more recently as part of a network of centres around the UK and abroad. Signing up for a brand-new Land Rover? You’ll get a free experience with the purchase, otherwise you can buy different experiences, lasting from an hour to a day. They even offer driving experiences for kids aged 11 to 17 years.
It all started at Solihull, Warwickshire, but over the past two decades, the company has expanded significantly and has factories around the world, as well as remote offices for design and administration. For the UK market, models are built at Solihull (Range Rover and Range Rover Sport and Velar), Halewood (Evoque, Discovery Sport) and Nitra, Solvakia (Discovery 5 and Defender L663). Discovery Sports and Evoques are also made in Brazil, China and India. Want to see how the models get put together? It’s fascinating – tours of the UK factories start at £49.
Being four-wheel drive, Land Rovers could easily get to where the farmers needed them, and they became the ideal farm hack. Sadly, many farmers have now switched to Japanese pick-ups.
Not the first expedition to use Land Rovers, but the first to capture the attention of the average man. Tim Slessor and five other team members representing Oxford and Cambridge universities drove two 86in Series Is 18,000 miles from London to Singapore, helping promote the Land Rover along the way.
To be able to safely negotiate tree stumps and fallen trees, you need a vehicle with extra ground clearance – which is exactly what the big-wheeled Roadless Forest Rover offered. Planetary reduction hub axles were fitted to lower the gearing, and the front axle track was 75 inches – not ideal for fitting between trees.
Putting the driver ahead of the front wheels creating a forward control gives you room for more load. The 109in Series IIA was launched in 1962; 1966’s Series IIB had a 109¾in wheelbase, but was referred to as a 110. The Forward Control 1-ton designed for military use and entering service in the mid-1970s had a 101in wheelbase.
Turning circles have gradually improved over the years, but the four-wheel steer introduced with the Range Rover L460 has made the vehicle much more agile. As well as improving steering lock, it enhances stability in high-speed manoeuvres.
A fun vehicle aimed at young families with lots of leisure time, the Freelander instantly became a best-seller. It was the first production Land Rover to have independent suspension and also gave us Hill Descent Control – the lack of low range meant engine braking wasn’t great. It was replaced by the Freelander 2 in 2006, the first Land Rover to be built at the Halewood factory in Liverpool.
NEXT: In part three, we're going from the G4 Challenge to the Nurburgring...
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