Motoring Trailblazers - Range Rover

Sat 19th Jan 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Range Rover
The Rover Company had long been working on a larger model of their Land Rover Series before launching their iconic Range Rover. In fact under the project title ‘Road Rover’, Gordon Bashford was working on the ideas since 1951 and shelved the project in 1958 before joining up with Spen King in 1966 to work on the first generation.

Though the first prototype was put together in 1967, and would be recognisable as a Range Rover today, it wasn’t until three years later that the first generation Range Rovers hit the production line.

An instant design classic, Bashford and King had produced a vehicle which was the epitome of off-road luxury, large enough to tackle the estates and manors of those wealthy enough to afford one. The the Range Rover certainly wasn’t the first high-end SUV, it certainly proved to the inspiration for a market which five decades later is more popular than ever.

The first generation was exhibited in Paris’ Musee du Louvre, held up as an example of ‘exemplary work of industrial design’. But this wasn’t some fancy dan Rover, this was a vehicle which lived up to its name of being ‘off-road’, in 1972 it proved its credentials by becoming the first vehicle to complete the Trans-Americas Expedition, travelling the length of the Americas, including the roadless Darien Gap.

Range Rovers proved to be a global success and were widely available across the United States, but only on the grey market and strangely it wasn’t until 1987 that they were officially sold across the Atlantic.

Now enjoying its fourth generation of vehicle, the Range Rover is part of the wider Jaguar Land Rover group and is not without controversy. There have been many who argue that such a large vehicle has a negative impact on its environment, and that has led to Greenpeace disrupting production at the company’s Solihull plant. Even the Range Rover’s inspiration, Spen King has aimed at the newer generations of the Range Rover saying that the cars were never intended to be a status symbol. But that’s exactly what they are and even with some low reliability ratings on the JD Power index, they are still as popular as ever on forecourts across the world.