A brief introduction to Land Rovers
Very brief actually because so many websites have been extensively writing about it.
- The brand was funded in 1948, in England, as a
fightback to the US Jeep hegemony.
- The first Land Rover, later designated as the
"Series One", was safer and slightly more
sophisticated than a Jeep, which served as a model. It
was soon followed by the SII / SIIA starting from
- The Series Two is a complete redesign: chassis was
all new, more power, more space, more cargo
capacities. The dash remains at the center of the
The chassis, body panels, engines, transmission remain
unchanged when the SIII is introduced in 1971. The only
changes are improved creature comfort (helped by the
introduction of plastic components) and, visually,
migrated headlamps, pushed to the wings with a plastic
grille covering the radiator.
A major change in 1985 with the introduction of the
90/110/130 line. The design remains mostly unchanged but
the mechanic and transmission are upgraded. Coil
suspension, brake discs and modern engines are part of
the new offer. The front panel is now flush with the
The 90/110/130, later renamed Defender, will be
produced until 2016: Land Rover then stopped producing
What makes them so special ?
Among so many cars manufacturers, here is why Land Rover stands out.
- The best explanation might be a comparison: Jeep was the very first light off-roader, but because of its WWII origins, Jeep never fully managed to get out of the image of an army vehicle. That does not suit everybody's tastes. It is an US brand: the culture which comes with is very different. The UK cars, unlike their US counterparts, were full of non-sense engineering in a subtle mix of poor quality made acceptable by an indescribable elegance.
- On the other side of the globe, Japanese car makers
were always seen as cheaters, in despite of doing
nothing more than what LR did out of Jeep originally:
copying. But what made Japanese definitively worst is
the fact that their copy also corrected all the
defaults and engineering errors to produce a better
Land Rover than Land Rover ever managed to produce.
The fact that they dare even copying its name -"land
cruiser"- was the last drop too much. But Japanese aim
for perfection never managed to add the magic touch
that English cars bear into their deep DNA. Perfection
is certainly good in the rough, but it is a bland and
tasteless way of life.
- One life, live it !
Land Rover Spirit
Only a few of car brands can claim to have such a supportive community .
Probably because of a questionable reliability, the Land Rover owners seem to come to know each other in a much higher proportion than other brands. Isn't the slogan of the "series one club": can you afford not to belong ? Because you always need a tool, a part, a hand to fix the latest magic of your Land Rover, LR enthusiasts become more open to other LR owners. They know that this world is a better one when people support each others, like in the old days: before the internet, before road assistance on a push of a button, before unlimited warranty, before engines' modern reliability.
When you drive a (classic) Land Rover, you flash at
each other in a happy greeting. You start chatting in
traffic jams with the Land Rover's driver standing next
to yours. You exchange phone numbers on a parking lot.
You propose to help a fellow when in need. You belong to
the same world. A world long gone, where gentlemen
drivers were caring of each others, would it be on the
commute to work, or overlanding through Africa. Land
Rover owners still share this spirit: they call it the Land
In despite of everything, Land Rover remain attached to a certain idea of Adventure.
If the Land Rover was originally designed to become the
farmer's best friend, it soon was seen as the perfect
car to go around the world. Lack of serious competitors
in the 50's surely explains why Land Rover was the
chosen car to travel on long journeys: it was the only
vehicle which loading and off-road capacities could
carry all the required equipment (and spare parts)
trough remote areas.
- In the 50's and 60's, half of Africa still being a
British colony, natural preference was given to Land
Rover over Jeep, which anyway had to be a left-behind
ex-WWII wreck with no space at all, or a newer model
that were to be imported from the US first...
anyway... as a consequence, Land Rover succeeded in
exporting cars all over the world: NGO, ambulances,
stone quarries, road development companies or mining
consortia were relying on Land Rover floats.
- Daktari TV show, in the 60's, in despite of its US
origins, featured several Land Rovers, nailing deep
into millions of children brains that only a Land
Rover was good enough to support a vet' in the African
- From the 70's, the Japanese productions seriously hit the Land Rover market shares in remote countries, thanks to their unbeaten reliability. "The Gods must be crazy" movie being the perfect illustration of the growing frustration of the Land Rover owners.
- The Camel Trophy participated in restoring the image
of an unstoppable vehicle, during insanely tough raids
which, sometimes, ended in helicopter lifts of the
stuck vehicles from impenetrable jungles.
What's left for the future ?
8 billions of human beings on an always smaller planet, an aversion towards combustion engine cars: the future doesn't look brilliant for the Land Rover enthusiast.
Land Rover stopped producing cars with a purpose in
2016, turning the back to its clientele and leaving it
all to its former competitors: it looks like the Land
Rover as we knew and love them must now be called a
"classic" Land Rover.
With a claimed 70% of produced cars still on the road,
Land Rover won't get out of the scenery any soon. They
surely have their moods but, all in all, remain reliable
like few others. And if not reliable, at least
reparable. Which other car can claim that today ?
This means that our future, as car enthusiasts, will
depend on our ability to keep our past alive: drive
them, restore them, save them for the future
generations, proud representatives of a time when people
knew how to fix their own belongings by themselves,
dared go out in the wild, where the planet was vastly
undiscovered, with less than 2.5 billion of people
walking on it, where the environment was not to be
protected because not yet messed up.
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