His­tory How the Cruiser ousted

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driven -

Land Rover pretty much had free reign with cus­tomers glob­ally be­fore the Land Cruiser en­tered the mar­ket. Since then, Toy­ota ap­pears to have suc­ceeded in tak­ing over as the off-road ve­hi­cle of choice. So what went wrong?

As the 1970s took hold and the world moved on, Bri­tish car tech­nol­ogy aged. Bri­tish Ley­land had lit­tle hope of keep­ing up with the times thanks to se­ri­ous bud­get is­sues and a work­force and man­age­ment that were barely on speak­ing terms. In short, the UK car in­dus­try was a mess. By the time 1980 rolled around, you could still buy a Bri­tish car with tech­nol­ogy orig­i­nally de­signed dur­ing the 1940s – the Se­ries III Land Rover is a case in point.

The orig­i­nal Land Rover was launched in 1948 to world­wide ac­claim, of­fer­ing prac­ti­cal, af­ford­able and class-lead­ing abil­ity in the rough stuff. The ride may have been teeth-crunch­ingly hard, but this was in keep­ing with the of­ten ap­palling ru­ral con­di­tions of the time. The Se­ries II took over ten years later – very much the same ve­hi­cle, but with a larger en­gine, longer wheel­base and fewer sharp edges.

The II be­came the III (via the in­terim IIA) in 1971. In re­al­ity, this ‘new’ ve­hi­cle wasn’t all that far re­moved from the post-war orig­i­nal. Ex­cept for some mi­nor tech­ni­cal tweak­ing, the Land Rover Se­ries III was still age-old en­gi­neer­ing in a chang­ing cli­mate.

Im­por­tant global mar­kets such as Aus­tralia and Africa cried out for big­ger en­gines to deal with trav­el­ling long dis­tances, but Bri­tish man­age­ment as­sumed what was good enough for Bri­tain was there­fore good enough for the rest of the world. The re­sult was a ve­hi­cle that made longer trips a woe­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

This lack of fore­sight and devel­op­ment left the mar­ket wide open for the Land Cruiser to step in and rake in cus­tomers. It proved to the world that own­ing an ex­pe­di­tion ve­hi­cle needn’t in­volve re­build­ing the axle ev­ery 60,000 miles or re­plac­ing the points ev­ery time it rained. And al­though its leaf springs and four-speed gear­box were akin to the Land Rover of the time, the Toy­ota proved it­self to be more de­pend­able when it counted.

The Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer’s mar­ket­ing line ‘Toy­ota takes over the world’ is per­haps a lit­tle disin­gen­u­ous be­cause with­out the Land Rover – or in­deed the Amer­i­can Jeep – Toy­ota wouldn’t have had the ba­sis on which to tin­ker with an al­ready proven for­mula. In essence, it was the Korean War in 1950 that cre­ated the Land

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.