Few vehicle manufacturers have a history as colourful and storied as that of Land Rover. From their initial development as a way for the Rover Company to survive the post-war metal shortages in the UK, to dominating Camel Trophy races in the most grueling courses around the world, pulling locomotives, starring in James Bond films and generally ready to meet any motoring challenge thrown at them, one can tell or listen to exciting Land Rover stories all day – including those of your own making.
With a history of facts, accomplishments, and milestones that would fill an encyclopedia, there are bound to be a few things that, if not forgotten, may not be as well remembered as others. But they are no less fascinating.
1. Land Rovers were in production for three decades before the company existed.
If you want a quirky, unbelievable automotive story, check the history of British vehicle manufacturing. The original Land Rover was a model launched by the Rover Company in 1948. Rover was bought by Leyland Motors in 1967, which merged with British Motor Holdings in 1968 to become the British Leyland Motor Corporation. The Land Rover Company was formed as a subsidiary of British Leyland in 1978.
2The original Land Rover’s steering wheel was in the middle.
In the post-war austerity, the centre location for the steering wheel simplified design, repairs, and maintenance; helped the model meet the standards of an agricultural vehicle (which it needed to do to be alloted the steel required for manufacture), and eliminated the need to create left- and right-hand drive versions for international markets.
3. They helped owners avoid paying taxes.
The Land Rover Defender 110 was intentionally designed to potentially fit 12 people, including the driver. This qualified the vehicle as a ‘bus’, thereby avoiding the much higher taxes imposed on regular passenger vehicles.
4. They are literally a work of art.
At least they are if being displayed in the Louvre counts. The original Range Rover was exhibited in the Louvre as an example of “exemplary industrial design”.
5. They built their first crossover SUV about 50 years before ‘crossovers’ existed.
Land Rover is widely considered to be the first SUV. But they can also claim to have built one of the first crossover SUVs. The Road Rover was designed in the early 1950s and became a precursor to the Range Rover.
If you’ve never heard of a Road Rover before, get ready to hear a lot more about them. In September 2017, Jaguar Land Rover announced a new Road Rover line of all-electric vehicles will be launched in 2019.