Debunking the most common old wives’ tales
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.