Is Your Car Really British? Part Seven – Land Rover

Sun 29th Apr 2018

The British Isles used to be one of the bastions of motor supremacy, some of the biggest car brands, names that go down in history. But no more – we may believe that the famous name brand car we are driving is as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding – unfortunately we are probably wrong.

Land Rover
Though we’ve been building Land Rover’s in the UK since the late 1940s, the Land Rover company wasn’t actually formed until 1978.

The original Land Rover was designed in 1947 by Maurice Wilks, who was the chief designer at the Rover Company. Rumoured to be influenced by the Jeep vehicle and was actually originally built on a Jeep chassis, and early Series I models were painted light green due there being a surplus of military aircraft cockpit paint.The first Land Rover was officially launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show in April 1948 and the early vehicles were originally designed for farm and light industrial use.

Initially Rover only intended producing Land Rovers as a short-term project to keep the company busy while the post-war car market, but by 1958 they had built a Series II and of course that led to the iconic Range Rover.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride for the 4x4 specialist vehicles though. Rover became part of Leyland Motors in 1967 and later British Leyland. The early 1970s were the worst of times for Rover and British Leyland. In 1974, Land Rover abandoned the US market following strong competition from Japanese 4x4 brands, and then in 1975 British Leyland collapsed and nationalised. A report recommended that Land Rover and Rover split, a deal which took place in 1978 seeing Land Rover Limited become a subsidiary of BL, two years after the one-millionth Land Rover left the production line.

In 1986 BL became Rover Group, and one year later, to meet increasing demand the Range Rover was reintroduced to the US market. In 1988 Rover Group was privatised and became part of British Aerospace. Though that partnership last only six years when BMW took over Rover Group in 1994.

In 2000 Land Rover was sold to Ford for £1.8 billion, before being sold again to Tata Motors in 2007, the same year that the 4,000,000th Land Rover came off the production line.

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