Landy ad­ven­ture and le­gacy

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by PAUL VAN GASS / JAGUAR LAND ROVER | Im­ages © LAND ROVER

Stretch­ing over 250 me­tres, the most re­mote De­fender out­line was im­printed on the side of a moun­tain in the French Alps. The unique snow art was cre­ated to an­nounce World Land Rover Day on 30 April, ex­actly 70 years af­ter the orig­i­nal Land Rover was first un­veiled at the 1948 Am­s­ter­dam Motor Show.

The unique im­age is a trib­ute to the moment when the en­gi­neer­ing di­rec­tor of Rover, Mau­rice Wilks, first etched the shape for the orig­i­nal Land Rover into the sand of Red Wharf Bay and pro­posed the idea to his brother Spencer who was then man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Rover. The forward-think­ing de­sign was chris­tened the ‘Land Rover’, an out­line now in­stantly recog­nis­able as the leg­endary De­fender.

The snow sculp­ture hon­ours both the peo­ple who helped to cre­ate the most recog­nised 4×4 in the world, as well as the pi­o­neer­ing tech­nolo­gies of Land Rover — from its Se­ries Land Rover and De­fender ori­gins to the in­tro­duc­tion of the Range Rover in 1970 and the Dis­cov­ery in 1989.

Snow artist Si­mon Beck, who spe­cialises in cre­at­ing geo­met­ric out­lines on foot, braved sub-zero tem­per­a­tures to start the cel­e­bra­tions by cre­at­ing the De­fender out­line 2,700 me­tres up at La Plagne in the French Alps. Beck trekked 20,894 steps over a near 17-kilo­me­tre dis­tance to pro­duce the high-al­ti­tude De­fender out­line.


Land Rover is mark­ing its 70th an­niver­sary with a se­ries of events and cel­e­bra­tions in 2018, be­gin­ning ear­lier this year with the restora­tion of the ve­hi­cle that started it all — one of the three pre­pro­duc­tion Land Rovers that were shown at the 1948 Am­s­ter­dam Motor Show — giv­ing the world its first glimpse of the shape that would be­come in­stantly recog­nis­able as a Land Rover.

This orig­i­nal launch ve­hi­cle has been miss­ing for 63 years. It was last on the road in the 1960s, af­ter which it spent 20 years in a Welsh field be­fore be­ing bought as a restora­tion project. The restora­tion was never fin­ished, though, and the Landy ended up parked in a gar­den where it weath­ered the el­e­ments.

Fol­low­ing its sur­prise dis­cov­ery just a few miles out­side of Soli­hull, in the UK, where it was first built — the ex­perts at Jaguar Land Rover Clas­sic spent months re­search­ing com­pany ar­chives in an at­tempt to un­ravel its own­er­ship his­tory and con­firm its ori­gins.

The team be­hind the suc­cess­ful Land Rover Se­ries I Re­born pro­gramme em­barked on their most chal­leng­ing project yet: a year-long mis­sion to pre­serve this his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant pro­to­type and en­able it to be driven again. It is an ir­re­place­able piece of world au­to­mo­tive his­tory and is as his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant as ‘Huey’, the first pre-pro­duc­tion Land Rover.

The team will fol­low a ded­i­cated process to re­store the ve­hi­cle that boasts some spe­cial fea­tures unique to the 48MY pre-pro­duc­tion Landies such as thicker alu­minium al­loy body pan­els, a gal­vanised chas­sis, and a re­mov­able rear tub. The patina of its com­po­nents will be pre­served, in­clud­ing the orig­i­nal light green paint ap­plied in 1948.


South Africa also has a rich Land Rover le­gacy. It started in 1949 when the first Se­ries I 80” mod­els were sold here. In Au­gust 1950, Car Dis­trib­u­tors Assem­bly built the first Land Rovers in Port Eliz­a­beth. The first lo­cal pro­duc­tion of fuel tanks and chas­sis-units at the Port Eliz­a­beth plant was an­nounced in Au­gust 1963. The use of lo­cally-pro­duced com­po­nents steadily in­creased to 44% of to­tal ve­hi­cle weight by 1972.

In 1974 Ley­land South Africa, as­sem­blers of Land Rover, had three assem­bly plants in the coun­try. Lo­cal con­tent con­tin­ued to in­crease in 1980 with the Se­ries IIIS which was fit­ted with lo­cally pro­duced petrol and diesel en­gines. The Se­ries IIIS was unique to the South African mar­ket and was a dis­tin­guished model from the ear­lier Se­ries III that was also lo­cally-built. Only two body types were avail­able from the fac­tory, a pick-up and a 12-seat sta­tion wagon.

The diesel en­gine was a lo­cally-built 3.8-litre four-cylin­der known as the ‘At­lantis,’ or ADE4, that de­liv­ered 55 kW and 243 Nm of torque. The R6 2.6-litre six-cylin­der petrol en­gine de­liv­ered 82 kW and 202 Nm of torque and was fit­ted as stan­dard with an oil cooler. Around 5,000 units were built be­fore pro­duc­tion stopped in 1985.

In 1992, the Black­heath fac­tory in the Western Cape was iden­ti­fied as the largest Land Rover assem­bly-plant out­side the UK, how­ever, in 1995 pro­duc­tion moved to a smaller plant in Ross­lyn.


It was dur­ing this pe­riod of BMW own­er­ship (1997 to 2001) that the South African De­fender 2.8i with the BMW M52 en­gine was de­vel­oped and built. Some of the top en­gi­neers at BMW, in­clud­ing Frank Isen­berg, head of BMW Driver Train­ing and the M2 project, was part of the de­vel­op­ment team.

The project was ini­tially la­belled as top se­cret, and the team con­verted a De­fender 110 with a 3.5-litre V8 into the first 2.8i. To adapt the BMW en­gine to the De­fender chas­sis, some parts from the re­cently de­vel­oped BMW M51

diesel-pow­ered Range Rover 2.5 DSE were utilised.

How­ever, a new bell-hous­ing was de­signed thanks to the 10-de­gree tilt of the M52 en­gine that couldn’t match the in­put shaft of the R380 gear­box. Other unique parts de­vel­oped in­cluded air in­take ducts, en­gine mounts, the ra­di­a­tor cowl, cool­ing hoses, fuel lines, clutch lines, an air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem, en­gine wiring, tachome­ter gauge, and an ex­haust sys­tem.

Pro­to­types were sub­jected to ex­ten­sive test­ing, and at least three of the six pro­to­types were soft-top De­fender 90s. The very first one was painted Con­is­ton Green and nick­named “Green Mamba” by BMW en­gi­neers.

The 2,793 cc straight-six en­gine de­vel­oped 143 kW and 280 Nm of torque, and the high gear ra­tios of the six-speed gear­box helped it sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in just 9.3 sec­onds. It could reach a top speed of over 180 km/h (later mod­els were re­stricted to 160 km/h) – mak­ing it the fastest pro­duc­tion De­fender ever pro­duced. Un­til 2001, a to­tal of 1,395 units were built that in­cluded 656 De­fender 90s and 739 De­fender 110s.

Land Rover also built 26 50th An­niver­sary Edi­tion 90s with the BMW en­gine. They were painted Santorini Blue with unique de­cals on the sides. Each was ran­domly num­bered be­tween one and 50, since 24 50th An­niver­sary edi­tion 110s were also built, but only with a diesel en­gine. The spe­cial 110 edi­tion was called “Sa­fari” and painted a lime­stone green colour.


The Camel Tro­phy was spon­sored by Land Rover for eigh­teen years (1981 to 1998), and while a South African team only en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion for the first time in 1994, the South Africans won the cov­eted “Team Spirit” prize three times: in 1994 (Eti­enne van Ee­den and Klaus Hass); 1996 (Sam de Beer and Pi­eter du Plessis); and 1999 (John and Mark Collins). The two brothers were also sec­ond in the over­all stand­ings in what was to be the last Camel Tro­phy event.

Af­ter the demise of the Camel Tro­phy, com­peti­tors rep­re­sent­ing six­teen na­tions en­tered a new Land Rover spon­sored event, the G4 Chal­lenge. This ‘ul­ti­mate global ad­ven­ture’ was first held in 2003, and the sec­ond, with eigh­teen na­tions par­tic­i­pat­ing, in 2006. The 2008-2009 G4 Chal­lenge was can­celled in De­cem­ber 2008, mean­ing the win­ner of the 2006 event, South African ad­ven­ture racer Martin Dreyer, was the last G4 Chal­lenge win­ner.


The Land Rover 147, a fur­ther ex­tended De­fender that was only of­fered in SA, be­came avail­able in au­tumn 2001 when Land Rover was un­der Ford own­er­ship. The 147, with the badge also in­dica­tive of the wheel­base length in inches, catered specif­i­cally to the needs of sa­fari tour com­pa­nies.

The 37” chas­sis ex­ten­sion for the De­fender 110 was de­vel­oped in co­op­er­a­tion with Land Rover Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles. It was 935 mil­lime­tres longer than a stan­dard 110 and was of­fered only as a six-door sta­tion wagon.

En­gine op­tions in­cluded both the Td5 and 300 TDI diesel en­gines. It weighed 337 kilo­grammes more (in to­tal 2,392kg) and had a turn­ing cir­cle of over 15 me­tres. Land Rover pro­duc­tion in South Africa fi­nally ceased at the end of 2005.


1948 – Land Rover Se­ries I launched at

the Am­s­ter­dam Motor Show

1953 – Long wheel­base ver­sion of the

Se­ries I in­tro­duced

1958 – Land Rover Se­ries II un­veiled 1970 – Orig­i­nal two-door Range Rover

(the Clas­sic) goes on sale

1971 – Land Rover Se­ries III launched 1976 – One mil­lionth Land Rover built

1979 – A Range Rover wins the in­au­gu­ral Paris-Dakar rally (and again in 1981)

1981 – Land Rover be­gins a leg­endary

part­ner­ship with Camel Tro­phy 1981 – Four-door Range Rover re­leased 1989 – Land Rover Dis­cov­ery, the third

Land Rover model, goes on sale 1990 – Orig­i­nal Landie re­launched and

re­named De­fender 1994 – Sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Range Rover


1997 – New Free­lander un­veiled with new

tech­nol­ogy: Hill De­scent Con­trol 2003 – In­au­gu­ral G4 chal­lenge sees 16 teams tra­verse USA, SA, and Aus­tralia

2004–Third-gen­er­a­tion Dis­cov­ery launched at New York Motor Show

2005 – All-new Range Rover Sport un­veiled 2006 – Free­lander 2 launched; first Land

Rover from Hale­wood

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.