MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Giles Chap­man

1 IT WAS THE FIRST LUX­URY SUV

We’re ac­cus­tomed to be­liev­ing that the orig­i­nal Range Rover was the first big off-roader to of­fer a civilised, sport-util­ity pack­age. But that mis­con­cep­tion hints at a parochial view of the Range Rover’s global im­pact. In 1963, Jeep launched its Wagoneer, a hand­some and im­pos­ing sta­tion wagon that brought four-wheel drive to well-heeled sub­ur­ban roads. In­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion was an op­tion and be­fore long it could be or­dered with pres­ti­gious op­tions like a V8 en­gine, air con­di­tion­ing and au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

2 IT WAS LAND ROVER’S FIRST SUV

Oddly, this isn’t true ei­ther. In 1949, Land Rover had launched a sta­tion wagon ver­sion of its early 86 in-wheel-base stan­dard Se­ries I. There was noth­ing rough and ready about the curved roof body­work from ex­clu­sive coach­builder Tick­ford. It could seat seven on leather up­hol­stery, the in­te­rior was smartly-trimmed, it had a one­piece lam­i­nated wind­screen and a body-colour me­tal spare wheel cover. How­ever, this up­mar­ket Land Rover proved too ex­pen­sive here, and only 50 of the 700 made were sold in the UK.

3 IT WAS LUX­U­RI­OUS

Through­out the 1970s, the Range Rover was ex­pen­sive and ex­clu­sive, and even sec­ond­hand was usu­ally way be­yond the typ­i­cal used car bud­get. And yet in­side it was work­man­like rather than op­u­lent. Stan­dard up­hol­stery was in ro­bust moulded vinyl, there were no car­pets, and the de­sir­able op­tion of an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion didn’t ar­rive un­til 1982. It had al­ready been on sale for sev­eral years be­fore sound­dead­en­ing was adopted, and the orig­i­nal cars didn’t even have a ded­i­cated place to in­stall a ra­dio!

Early Range Rovers were much more ba­sic than those from the 1980s on.

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