Sunday, June 19, 2011
Let’s make it perfectly clear: This is not about the squeaky-clean yuppie haulers that litter the suburbs. This is the British equivalent to America’s Jeep -- and to some Americans, the more desirable choice. Between 1948 and 1985, Series I, II and III Rovers were rugged and sparse, often matching the terrain they crossed. Like the Jeep, there was no pretense in the Rover’s presence, just incredible off-road ability. So as you might guess, this makes for a less than placid ride and handling on pavement. For the most agreeable compromise, shop for later Series IIIs from '82-'85 with their stronger half shafts and availability of limited creature comforts.
The first Land Rover was designed in 1948 in the United Kingdom (on the island of Anglesey off the coast of Wales) by Maurice Wilks, chief designer at the British car company Rover on his farm in Newborough, Anglesey. It is said that he was inspired by an American World War II Jeep that he used one summer at his holiday home in Wales. The first Land Rover prototype, later nicknamed 'Centre Steer', was built on a Jeep chassis. A distinctive feature is their bodies, constructed of a lightweight rustproof proprietary alloy of aluminium and magnesium called Birmabright. This material was used because of the post-war steel shortage and the plentiful supply of post-war aircraft aluminium. This metal's resistance to corrosion was one of the factors that allowed the vehicle to build up a reputation for longevity in the toughest conditions. Land Rover once advertised that 75% of all vehicles ever built are still in use. In fact, Land Rover drivers sometimes refer to other makes of 4x4 as "disposables". The early choice of colour was dictated by military surplus supplies of aircraft cockpit paint, so early vehicles only came in various shades of light green; all models until recently feature sturdy box section ladder-frame chassis.
The early vehicles, such as the Series I, were field-tested at Long Bennington and designed to be field-serviced; advertisements for Rovers cite vehicles driven thousands of miles on banana oil. Now with more complex service requirements this is less of an option. The British Army maintains the use of the mechanically simple 2.5 litre 4-cylinder 300TDi engined versions rather than the electronically controlled 2.5 litre 5-cylinder TD5 to retain some servicing simplicity. This engine also continued in use in some export markets using units built at a Ford plant in Brazil, where Land Rovers were built under license and the engine was also used in Ford pick-up trucks built locally. Production of the TDi engine ended in the United Kingdom in 2006, meaning that Land Rover no longer offers it as an option. International Motors of Brazil offer an engine called the 2.8 TGV Power Torque, which is essentially a 2.8 litre version of the 300TDi, with a corresponding increase in power and torque. All power is combined with an All-Terrain Traction Control which gives active terrain response; Ferrari uses a similar system in race traction.
During its ownership by Ford, Land Rover was associated with Jaguar. In many countries they shared a common sales and distribution network (including shared dealerships), and some models shared components and production facilities.
Launched under the independent Rover Company pre-merger (1904–67)
1904–12 Rover 8
1906–10 Rover 6
1906–10 Rover 16/20
1912–23 Rover 12
1919–25 Rover 8
1924–27 Rover 9/20
1925–27 Rover 14/45
1927–32 Rover Light Six
1927–47 Rover 10
1929–32 Rover 2-Litre
1930–34 Rover Meteor 16HP/20HP
1931–40 Rover Speed 20
1932–33 Rover Pilot/Speed Pilot
1932–32 Rover Scarab
1934–47 Rover 12
1934–47 Rover 14/Speed 14
1937–47 Rover 16
1948–78 Land Rover (I/II/III)—In 1978, BL established Land Rover Limited as a separate subsidiary; it took over Land Rover production.
1948–49 Rover P3 (60/75)
1949–64 Rover P4 (60/75/80/90/95/100/105/110)
1958–73 Rover P5 (3-Litre/3.5-Litre)
1963–76 Rover P6 (2000/2200/3500)
 Launched under the Rover Company as a BLMC/BL subsidiary (1967–86)
1970–78 Range Rover—In 1978, BL established Land Rover Limited as a separate subsidiary; it took over Range Rover production.
1976–86 Rover SD1 (2000/2300/2400/2600/3500/Vitesse)
1984–99 Rover 200 (211/213/214/216/218/220)
1985–89 Rover 416i—Australian market
 Pre-existing models rebranded under the Rover Group (1986–2000)
1986–2000 Rover Mini—Originally called the Austin Seven/Morris Mini Minor in 1959, but renamed Rover Mini in 1986.
1990–98 Rover Metro, Rover 100 (111/114/115)
1989–94 Maestro—Never branded a Rover but sold through brand.
1989–94 Montego—Never branded a Rover but sold through brand.
 Rover-branded models launched under the Rover Group (1986–2000)
1992–98 Rover 200 Coupe (216/218/220/220 Turbo)
1990–2000 Rover 400 (414/416/418/420)
1993–99 Rover SK1, Rover 600 (618/620/623 and 620ti)
1986–98 Rover 800 (820/825/827 and Vitesse) and Sterling
1998–2005 Rover RD1, Rover 75
 Rover-branded models launched under MG Rover (2000–05)
2000–05 Rover 25
2000–05 Rover 45
2003–05 Rover Streetwise