Land Rover Trivia.
1. Land Rovers have been around 30 years longer than their company has.
Land Rovers have been built since 1948, when they became the second oldest four wheel drive vehicles in automotive history after Jeeps. Back then, they were made by Rover, but Land Rover as a company wasn’t founded until 1978, as part of a really odd period of British auto industry.
2. The first Land Rover had the steering wheel in the middle.
It was modeled after WWII-era Jeeps, because the designer had used one on his farm in Wales. To keep things simple and more tractor-like, the designer just put the steering in the middle. In doing so he also dodged the pesky nuisance of building two different versions of the car for left and right hand drive markets. The original Series I Land Rover was introduced in April 1948, making the Land Rover the second oldest four-wheel drive vehicles in history after the Willys Jeep.
3. The first Range Rovers were actually known as ‘Velars’, before the Range Rover entered full production, the first 25 pre-production models were instead badged as the Velar, in a bid to confuse the public so they wouldn’t speculate about the car. The top-secret development versions are now in fact extremely sought after, with one sold for more than £30,000 at auction back in 2013.
4. Land Rover gave vehicles to students to race around the world. They sponsored the ultimate college joyride. LR used to provide trucks for students from Oxford and Cambridge to drive across continents to places like Singapore and the Sahara, “for the sake of learning.” Does your school give credit for epic road trips? We didn’t think so, one which saw the teams compete against the clock to make it Cape Town and back, and a race from London to Singapore.
5. The father of Land Rover’s larger offspring, the Range Rover, the man who would go on to design the Range Rover, Charles S. King, got his start developing a jet turbine engine for Rolls Royce before making the switch to the Rover company in the late 1950s. After WWII, Charles S. King worked with Rolls Royce, and helped them develop their first jet engines. To this day RR makes some of the best jet engines in the world.
6. The original Range Rover designer thought using them in towns and cities was stupid. Charles “Spen” King, who led the first Range Rover design team in the 1960s, was dismayed by the way the car has been adopted by what he called the “pompous, self-important driver”. In 2004, he was quoted as saying “to use them in the school run, or even in towns and cities at all, is completely stupid”. He drove a Volkswagen Golf R32 before he died in 2010 in a cycling accident.
7. The Range Rover was built exactly as the first prototype was designed. That literally never happens in the car industry. Somehow, when they put together the 1966 prototype that ultimately led to production, the lines never changed.
8. Land Rover made the first monster truck. They build it 30 years before the others. Like the Series II Cuthbertson, what’s arguably the world’s first monster truck came as a result of necessity. The British Forestry Commission demanded that Land Rover create a road-going vehicle that could tackle even the deepest puddles.
9. Land Rover made the first crossover in the 1950s, In another first for the company, Land Rover was also responsible for the first crossover SUV as far back as the 1950s, more than half a century before crossovers became popular. Known as the Road Rover, the vehicle was based on a car platform like modern crossovers, and combined the comfort of a regular car with the signature off-road ability that Land Rover’s vehicles became renowned for.
10. Range Rover Change in Ownership, when the Rover group was bought by BMW in 1994, the Germans split Land Rover from Rover before pawning Land Rover off to Ford in 2000. The companies remained separate until Ford bought the Range Rover brand in 2006, while both Land Rover and Range Rover were consolidated into the larger Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover in 2008.
11. The company’s military vehicles made Hummers look like toys. The Land Rover 101 Forward Vehicle was originally built to tow howitzer cannons, and was essentially Britain’s answer to the hard-as-nails Mercedes-engineered Unimog. Drivers sat ahead of the front wheels, hence its name, and the vehicle was so large that Land Rover had to integrate a step into the wheel just so the pilot could climb up into the cabin.
12. Land Rover also made First floating SUV Land Rover Defender. Not content with tackling the earth, Land Rover turned into attention to the sea when it released the unique Floating Ninety Defender, which was copied from the design of several aquatic Series II military prototypes from the 1960s. More of a river raft than a full-blown sea vessel, the floating Landie nonetheless comes with a dedicated propeller at the back, a rudder to steer and a snorkel to prevent its diesel engine from drowning.
13. You could order a Land Rover with tank treads in the fifties from the Rover factory, because ? The Series II Cuthbertson was invented by a Scotsman who figured out that treads would enable the SUV to trek across the Highlands without sinking into the spongy ground. Legend has it that originally this was a stunt meant to embarrass the English, who weren’t clever enough to come up with the idea on their own. However, eventually this became a factory option.
14. The Range Rover was displayed in the Louvre, The Range Rover currently holds the honour of being the only vehicle ever to be displayed in the Louvre gallery in Paris, thanks to the fact that it was considered a masterpiece of industrial design.It’s something that really cheesed off the car’s designers, Charles S. King. He had designed the Range Rover to be a utilitarian vehicle and literally drew a box around the inner components, thinking that the design would be updated at a later date.
15. Land Rover Hollywood Connection, Its latest escapade came in Spectre in 2015 for which a Defender SVX was given a dramatic makeover.
The Land Rover Defender TD5 110 in Tomb Raider
16. The second Range Rover ever produced had six wheels, obviously.
It was converted to an airport fire truck, and is still in use today.
17. Land Rover won the first Paris-Dakar rally, the legendary race from Paris to Dakar, Senegal. Range Rover might be better known as luxurious transport with occasional ventures into the sand, but it’s more talented than that. The winner of the first ever Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979 was – you guess it – driving a Range Rover. A car that, at the time, was already nearly a decade old. It would win again in 1981.It was an all French team, and they kind of ran away with it.
18. Oh, and they made the most grueling off-road challenge in the 1980’s world their playground for two decades. Land Rover dominated the Capel Trophy, which included treks across places like Siberia, the Amazon, Tierra del Fuego, and the Australian Outback, with vehicles that were mostly stock. Except for uhhh epic inflatable boat functionality.
19. Queen Elizabeth Once Took King Abdullah For A Drive, The queen is rumored to have “terrorized” then-Crown Prince Abdullah with her driving skills, learned during World War II when she was but a princess and trained as a mechanic and military truck driver for the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service of the British Army. Although she’s been seen behind the wheel of many cars in the course of her lifetime, the Queen’s favourite has always been the Land Rover Defender. Having owned more of these than any other, the unofficial count hovers at around 30 royal Land Rovers.
20. Land Rover hated paying taxes, and went to great lengths to make sure their buyers didn’t have to either.The Defender 110 could technically fit up to 12 people, qualifying as a “bus” by the taxman’s standards. This qualification allowed them to be exempt from the brutal tax system on passenger vehicles. Extra bonus: you get to use bus lanes and skip out on all that pesky London traffic.