28 July 2023
We continue our A to Z, this time from the Pink Panther to the Royal Family...
One Life. Live It.
The slogan that was used for the Camel Trophy in the late 1990s became a motto for Land Rover owners around the world because we all have one life. Unless we’re a cat.
The 101 Forward Control looks every inch a military vehicle. Epic approach and departure angles, this V8-engined brick was designed to tow artillery wherever it was needed. As well as GS soft-tops, there were hard top radio vans and ambulances. One carried Lord Mountbatten’s coffin at his funeral in 1979.
Range Rovers saw success in early instances of the Paris Dakar. In the inaugural event in 1979, Alain Génestier took first place in the four-wheel category, finishing fourth overall behind three bikes, and the success was repeated in 1981 when René Metge piloted his VSD-sponsored Range Rover to victory.
When the Australian military needed a capable Land Rover for its use the oversize Perentie was what it opted for. The 110 versions weren’t that dissimilar to UK military-spec vehicles, but the 6x6 versions were bigger and badder, with wider cab and wider axles. Both models were powered by Isuzu diesel engines, with the 6x6 powerplant being turbocharged.
It’s not your usual Land Rover colour, but the pink paint used on the 109in Series IIAs was perfect for keeping them camouflaged in the desert. 72 Land Rovers were prepared at Marshall of Cambridge and were fitted with heavy-duty suspension to allow them to carry the crew of three, 100 gallons of fuel, weapons and all the kit needed for extended stays in the desert.
With its commanding view from the driver’s seat and power, it was inevitable that police Range Rovers would become a familiar sight on Britain’s motorways. While Series vehicles and, later, Defenders took on the rural bobby beat, the jam-butty Range Rovers with their distinctive red waistband would be patrolling the motorway network and clearing up the aftermath of careless driving.
After the Land Rover was signed off, 48 pre-production Land Rovers were built to test everything, with each being slightly different. Lots of the pre-pro models have survived and L07 – which had been converted to right-hand drive – was the most recent to resurface in 2015. Treated to a sympathetic patina restoration by Land Rover Classic Works, it is now owned by Land Rover.
As well as Eastnor Castle, Land Rover uses plenty of vehicle proving grounds to test its vehicles around the world. Among those in the UK are the tracks at Gaydon and Fen End in Warwickshire, both of which have high-speed circuits as well as off-road tracks to cater for the new vehicles which are considerably faster than those the company made just two decades ago.
Both the Discovery and Discovery Sport were fitted with railway wheel guides to show just how much pulling power they had. The original Discovery pulled a train into Buckfastleigh station on the South Devon Railway as part of the dealer launch in 1989; the Discovery Sport pulled a 100-tonne train in the Rhine region of Switzerland in 2016.
Making the voluminous 127 and Defender 130 more usable, the Quadtech body was available in numerous configurations and sizes to fit with a single- or double-cab. The Land Rover’s size made the conversion – offered by Land Rover Special Vehicles – attractive for organisations that needed a nimble unit or mobile workshop to access places larger vehicles would struggle to reach.
There is very little visible steel on a Land Rover to corrode. In the post-war era when the Land Rover was conceived, steel was in short supply and Quinton-based Birmetals Ltd produced the Birmabright for the body panels.
Real hippos are surprisingly fast – they can reach speeds of 18mph – and Freelanders can be pedalled hard too, especially in rally form. Six V6 models were prepared by rally specialist M-Sport as recce vehicles for the Ford team for the 2001 Kenyan Safari Rally.
Launched in 1970, it quickly gained the ‘car for all seasons’ tag, capable of coping with anything thrown at it, on-road or off it. Initially only available as a two-door, the more family-friendly four-door didn’t arrive until 1981, and a diesel option wasn’t offered until 1986. It was replaced by the P38 in 1994, but production of the original model continued alongside for two more years. The P38 was replaced by the even more advanced L322 in 2001, which in turn was superseded by the all-aluminium L405 in 2012. The latest generation was announced in 2022.
Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport introduced a fifth model to the range in 2005, and appealed to those who wanted a more dynamic-looking vehicle than the L322. Available in some bold colours, such as Vesuvius Orange, it was designed to turn heads. Replaced by the L494 in 2013, while the third generation arrived in 2022.
Conceived as a show car to showcase future technology, but also to indicate Land Rover’s future road performance plans, the Range Stormer was a radical departure from what had been before. The two-door coupe had two-piece ‘blade and runner’ type doors, with the top hinging forward and the bottom becoming a step. It also gave us the first sight of adaptive headlights, cornering lights and Terrain Response.
There was a time that almost every garage had a Land Rover-based recovery truck. Harvey Frost salvage cranes were a factory option, but there were also offerings from Mann Egerton and Dixon Bate, as well as countless other independent fabrications.
Research and Development
Millions of pounds are spent on research and development of a new model, and the vehicles are treated as harshly as possible to ensure they are worthy of the green oval badge. This is a Range Rover L322 undergoing extreme testing.
Wanting to standardise the engine fitted to British military vehicles, Rover was asked to supply vehicles fitted with the four-cylinder Rolls-Royce B40 engine for evaluation. The conversion meant the rear axle on 80in models had to move back an inch and the bonnet sit a little higher, with a cut-out for the radiator cap. It wasn’t a success; the 1.6-engined model was found to be adequate.
The company held all three Royal Warrants – HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales – and supplied vehicles to the Royal Household. Apart from ceremonial vehicles, it is rare to see senior Royals in vehicles other than Land Rover products these days.
Royal Geographical Society
Understanding that its vehicles were the perfect ones to support geographic projects, Land Rover ran a bursary from 2008-2020, providing funding and the use of a vehicle for the projects and enabling the teams to study a range of topics, from malaria to volcanoes.
Royal Review vehicles
Numerous special vehicles have been made for use by the Royal family for review purposes – both for troops and on royal tours – allowing them to see and be seen. This photo was taken at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern in 1968, where LRM Live will be in May.
NEXT: In part five, it's Tom Sheppard to Tomb Radar...
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