The long answer begins in 1948, in the aftermath of World War 2 when the country was recovering from years of turmoil, struggling to create exports to earn foreign exchange, and experiencing rationing of resources so that priority projects (such as construction) could be completed.
The Land Rover’s roots
The rationing of resources had implications on the production of Rover’s established pre-war models, as did the fall in demand of luxury cars in the post-war economy. Models such as the Rover 10, pictured below, weren’t in vogue anymore, and new models were needed to plug this gap.
A 1939 Rover 10 Fixed Head Coupe, used under Creative Commons and linked to source
Maurice Wilks, the chief designer at Rover, designed a utilitarian vehicle with an emphasis on agricultural usage. The logic was that a rugged and sturdy vehicle would better suit the demands of the populace than the priority on aesthetics which had existed through the war. Prototypes and pre-production models of the Land Rover proved themselves in testing, and entered full production in 1948.
A 1951 Series 1 Land Rover, used under Creative Commons and linked to source
The design of the Series 1 Land Rover, pictured above, has persevered long enough to be ingrained in the public consciousness and echoed in today’s Defender. The original and now iconic green paintwork was born of necessity, as military surplus paint was cheaper and in more plentiful supply than other colours. The bodywork was made of an alloy of aluminium and magnesium (called Birmabright) which utilised materials that were not as strictly rationed. The flat panels and constant curves in the design arose from the need to keep manufacture as simple as possible: factors that could have been considered limiting combined to create a functional car that captured the attention of the nation.
And so, the Land Rover was born. Initially intended as a short-run production to generate some money for the Rover company so they could resume production of the higher-end cars, it turned out to be a popular marque that has seen numerous iterations throughout the years and, as we know, is still with us today .
The Range Rover’s roots
Experimentation to create a larger, more urban model based on the Land Rover design had been taking place since 1951, but they did not come to fruition until 1966 when Rover engineers Spen King and Gordon Bashford started work on the Range Rover design. To keep the model secret during development and testing it was referred to as the ‘Velar’, deriving from the Italian verb ‘velare’ (to cover). The working name was also ‘Road Rover’, which developed into ‘Range Rover’ during production.
The Range Rover was designed to appeal to the trend identified in the 1960s that 4 wheel drive leisure vehicles would become increasingly popular in the American market, and that other markets would likely follow suit. Examination of Range Rover’s messaging these days reveals the thinking behind the brand: “The Ultimate in Luxury and Capability”, “Unashamedly on-road”, but able to “tackle all surfaces and all weathers using legendary Land Rover all-terrain technologies”.
The two marques have established a solid appeal throughout their lives, and continue to do so. As the design of each adapts to meet consumer demands, the result is a long line of well-designed, practical cars. Land Rovers still maintain their hardy, rugged appeal, while Range Rovers appeal to the discerning driver who wants a sturdy, reliable, yet elegant car.
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