About Land Rover
Inspired by an American World War II-model Jeep he had once used at his vacation home in Wales, in 1947 British designer, Maurice Wilkes decided to create his own version of an off-road vehicle. Using a Jeep chassis, Wilkes fashioned the first Land Rover prototype designed to withstand the rigors of the countryside in any weather. The earliest models came only in shades of green, a result of the vast amounts of surplus, aircraft cockpit paint left over from the war. The body was constructed of inexpensive, corrosion-resistant aluminum rather than steel.
In April of 1948, the first Land Rover was officially presented at the Amsterdam Motor Show. Designed to be tough, sturdy and capable of handling the most difficult terrain, the Land Rover offered an eighty-inch wheelbase and ten speeds, two of which were in reverse. The four-wheel drive vehicle was an instant hit, taken up by British farmers as an all-purpose vehicle capable of navigating muddy fields, towing farm equipment and hauling giant loads with ease.
As time progressed, more applications for the rugged vehicle became apparent. It was the chosen mode of transport for safaris, scientific expeditions, the British military and the Royal Family. In his 1982 tour of Great Britain, Pope John Paul II used an open-topped Land Rover for parades. During this time, the Rover constantly innovated and adjusted the design, never veering from its initial aim to produce a vehicle capable of navigating the harshest terrain. The next two decades saw the creation of the Land Rover Series II and Series IIA designs.
In 1970, the company introduced the Range Rover, meant to be as tough an off-road vehicle as the Land Rover, while still offering all the luxury comforts of a more traditional road vehicle. It took sixteen years for the Range Rover to be introduced into the American automobile market. The successful Range Rover was soon followed by the development of the mainstream Discovery in 1989, a lower-cost SUV alternative designed to compete with Japanese mid-size SUV models.
Land Rover split from Rover Company and became Land Rover Leyland Group, based out of Solihull, England. Owned variously by both BMW and Ford, as of 2008, Land Rover is under the ownership of Tata Motors, an Indian automotive company. Land Rover has long been associated with excellence of design, endurance and dependability. Sixty-three years on, original Land Rover models are still in use, proving the genius and innovation of Wilkes' original vision for the car company.
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