Britain's Greatest Car Manufacturer - Land Rover
The next manufacturer in our series is Land Rover who has redefined their market and continue to innovate and push boundaries in car design and performance.
The Origins of Land Rover
Their history dates back to the late 1880's when John Kemp Starley and William Sutton founded Starley and Sutton Co who created the Rover Safety Bicycle in 1885. They changed their name to Rover in 1904 and their first vehicle was the Rover 8 which was followed by the Rover 9 and 10. They were produced until 1947.
The Beginning of Land Rover
In 1948, The Land Rover Series 1 was introduced which was inspired by the WW2 Jeep. The goal was to be in-between a light truck and a tractor to be used for light industrial and farm work. It became massively popular both on-road and off-road and two other additions were added to the series (II and III) with production ending in 1985.
The Land Rover was also heavily used by the Military who were looking for alternatives to their fleet of vehicles which at the time were not sufficient. They looked to Land Rover who created military-adapted vehicles which prompted the Army to quadruple their orders from 50 to 200 in the 50's.
By the late 70s, the army had bought 9,000 Series III models. The Land Rover was used in the Korean War and also the Suez Crisis by the British Army. Other armies which used Land Rover were Austrailia, New Zealand and Minerva.
Land Rover has endured a long history of different ownerships which started with their acquisition by the Leyland Motor Company in 1967 who later merged with the British Motor Holdings to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation a year later in 1968. Land Rover was separated from Rover and became a subsidiary of the British Leyland Motor Company in 1975 after their nationalisation.
The British Aerospace Plc bought Land Rover from the Government in 1988 for around £150m before selling to BMW in 1994 for £800m. Ford Acquired Land Rover in 2000 for £1.85bn before selling to TATA Motors in 2008 for $2.3bn (£1.15bn).
Icon of its time
The Range Rover, released in 1970, was hailed as an example of contemporary industrial design and became the first vehicle to be displayed in the Louvre. A game-changer, the vehicle broke records around the world for its endurance after it completed expeditions lasting over 18,000 miles.
The first generation Range Rover was in production for 24 years and became iconic for Land Rover. The second generation was released in 1994 and was in production until 2001 and was a massive improvement on the original. This trend continued with the launch of the 3rd generation from 2001-12 where they were improvements in every area. The fourth generation has been in production since 2012 and represents a family which has run for over 47-years.
New Additions to Land Rover
New models of the Land Rover family is the Range Rover Evoque which is a luxury compact SUV and it has been in production since 2011. In 2016, Land Rover sold its 500,000th Evoque with the model become its fastest seller.
"Nothing is quite like a Range Rover. It has long been the luxury SUV benchmark, and it even rivals luxury limousines for upmarket style, grace and refinement." - AutoExpress UK Review of the Range Rover Vogue
Another long-standing series is Land Rover's Discovery range which has been in production since 1989 and spawned 4 different generations. The Discovery differs from other models as it's an all-terrain vehicle.
Land Rover has become an icon of British Motoring and has established itself as a major manufacturer of quality, luxury and performance. However, is it enough to be the greatest manufacturer of all-time? Next in our series is McLaren.