Arguably the most iconic name in the world of off-roading ‘Land Rover’ has been around for half a century… and then some more. In its groundbreaking effort of taking man to the most inaccessible of locations and rewriting the physics of automotive engineering in its process. To acknowledge this incredible feat achieved by the British Off-Roading Icon has been captured in a short film called “A 50 Year Adventure” to portray the sensation of what Land Rover has achieved and it’s incredible journey in achieving the same.
It all began in the the year 1947 in the town of Newborough of Anglesey, England when the Wilks brothers, Maurice and Spencer who were in the Car Business, with Maurice being the Chief Designer of the Rover Company and Spencer Wilks performing duties as the Managing Director of the Rover Company, they were fascinated by the Off-Roading Capabilities of the Jeep.
At this time the Rover car company was struck by financial distress and with the limited supply of steel only to companies building military equipment, the chances of survival of the Rover car company looked bleak. They decided on their own version of an Off-Roading vehicle based on the chassis and Axles of Jeep and unsurprisingly enough the choice of colour used was the Military light green from the abundance of it being used on the World War vehicles.
The outcome was a rugged little boxy 4×4 vehicle which was made of aluminium (for its plentiful availability) which bettered the capabilities of the Jeep and the added benefit of Aluminium meant it resistant to corrosion and the vehicle was coined the name Land Rover. The company aimed at targeting the Farmers with the initial Land Rover, with its full time 4×4 and rugged boxy design, it couldn’t have possibly had better reception when it went on sale and the weekly production of 100 vehicles quickly became highly insufficient. Yet another added benefit with the early Land Rover was its low ratio gearbox which was nothing short of revolutionary in the consumer automobile segment. The Land Rovers could not only do the farm duties but could do some serious hill climbing and rough terrain driving with ease. The incredible versatility found audience in not just the farmers but also the heads of state in what can be a perfect reference to the term “one size fits all”.
As the initial success moved on to steady demand, the Land rover went through a lot of evolutionary changes to iron out it rough edges, this raged from being offered in different trims for specific applications to the choice between a four cylinder Diesel and Petrol engines. Around this time the market for Adventure enthusiasts was picking up with the incredible capabilities and bullet proof engineering of Land Rover they quickly became the obvious choice for the adventure enthusiasts.
Land Rover saw the opportunity to build loyalty among its fan base by organising various rally’s and off-roading to attract the Land Rover owners to participate in and also to draw more marketing towards the capabilities of these vehicles. This gave birth to the Land Rover lifestyle, moving away from the vehicles utilitarian uses to adventure and recreational pursuits.
The blossoming adventure and recreational tastes meant that the 1950’s were known as the age of expeditions, with people quenching their thirst by travelling across continents, yet again the Land Rover became the vehicle of obvious choice. Spectacularly enough the first vehicle seen by 1/3rd of the World’s population was a Land Rover. The orders for Land rovers kept pouring in from all parts of the globe and that’s when the company realised that they weren’t as appealing to the female population of the world as the earlier Land Rovers were considered very masculine vehicles with rugged edges, this lead to the Series II Land Rover which features smoother edges and had a lot more appeal towards the women population. Though Land Rovers sold in less numbers in America as a complete import, the recreational appeal of the vehicles grew the demand for it in the USA, so much so that by 1967 special North American versions of the Land Rover were produced, Though the Land Rover had very good following in the US, the US market was seemingly unattractive with stricter emission norms being commissioned.
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The company felt the need for refining the Series II Land Rovers after feedback from customers about its lack of comfort, this let to the creation of a Land Rover which could tackle the highways with as much ease and comfort as the rough terrain it gained supremacy on. Toying with this idea and through various prototype development the company finally built the first Range Rover. The Range Rover looked sophisticated, luxurious and most importantly handled like a car on the road and at the same time was head and shoulders above in its Off-Roading capabilities to the Series II Land rover. Like any other Land Rover, the Range Rover had to prove its worthiness in the Off-Road terrain, three Range Rovers were sent to the American continent piloted by blokes from the British Army, they went about tackling one of the toughest terrains and had to modify the environment around them to pave way. The sheer toughness and reliability of the Range Rover proved it was a true Off-Roader like its cousin. There were more desert expeditions undertaken by the Range Rover and it fell nothing short of its high expectations.
Gallery: The Land Rover Defender Adventure Years
It’s is quite evident to see how the adventure of the Land Rover company has been full of challenges but staying true to the company’s philosophy of designing and building the most versatile vehicles meant they have conquered their challenges in a heroic fashion. Today the Land Rover and Range Rover carry a rich heritage and it’s been fascinating to see how the company has been able to develop their vehicles and better them every single time. It will be no surprise to see Land Rover and Range Rover ride their wave of success for the next 50 years and it will be a fascinating time for all enthusiasts to watch this incredible company push boundaries of physics and human mobility in general.