Land Rover Cel­e­brates its Her­itage

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - Story by Land Rover/paul van Gass Cap­tured by Land Rover UK

To cel­e­brate 70 years of all-ter­rain ad­ven­tures and global ex­pe­di­tions, Land Rover has taken the orig­i­nal Se­ries Land Rover, later re­named De­fender, to new heights, and re­stored the ‘miss­ing’ orig­i­nal 4×4.

Stretch­ing over 250 me­tres, the most re­mote De­fender out­line has been 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 since the orig­i­nal Land Rover was first shown to the world at the 1948 Am­s­ter­dam Mo­tor Show. The unique im­age is a trib­ute to the mo­ment when the en­gi­neer­ing di­rec­tor of Rover, Mau­rice Wilks, first sketched the shape for the orig­i­nal Land Rover in the sand of Red Wharf Bay and pro­posed the idea to his brother Spencer, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Rover. The for­ward-think­ing de­sign was chris­tened the ‘Land Rover’, the out­line of which we now recog­nise as the De­fender.

The snow sculp­ture hon­ours the peo­ple who helped cre­ate the most recog­nised 4×4s in the world, and the pi­o­neer­ing tech­nolo­gies of Land Rover, from its Se­ries Land Rover and De­fender ori­gins to the in­tro­duc­tion of the Range Rover in 1970 and 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 m up at La Plagne in the French Alps. Beck walked 20 894 steps and 16.5 km to pro­duce the high-al­ti­tude De­fender out­line.


Land Rover is mark­ing its 70th an­niver­sary with a se­ries of events and cel­e­bra­tions in 2018, and it started ear­lier this year with the restora­tion of the ve­hi­cle that started it all – one of the three pre-pro­duc­tion Land Rovers shown at the 1948 Am­s­ter­dam Mo­tor Show launch – 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 the last 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. It then lay lan­guish­ing un­fin­ished in a gar­den. Fol­low­ing its sur­prise dis­cov­ery just a few miles out­side of Soli­hull, UK – where the car was first built – the ex­perts at Jaguar Land Rover Clas­sic spent months re­search­ing in com­pany archives to un­ravel its own­er­ship his­tory and con­firm its prove­nance.

The team be­hind the suc­cess­ful Land Rover Se­ries I Re­born pro­gramme, which al­lows cus­tomers to own a slice of Land Rover his­tory with metic­u­lously re­stored Se­ries Is, em­barked on their most chal­leng­ing project yet: a year­long 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 im­por­tant as ‘Huey’, the first pre­pro­duc­tion Land Rover. The team will fol­low a ded­i­cated process to re­store the ve­hi­cle, which has a lot of spe­cial fea­tures that are unique to the 48 pre-

pro­duc­tion Landies pro­duced prior to the pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cles, 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 has a rich Land Rover legacy, start­ing in 1949 when the first Se­ries I 80-inch mod­els were sold here. In Au­gust 1950, Car Dis­trib­u­tors Assem­bly as­sem­bled the first Land Rovers in Port El­iz­a­beth. The first lo­cal pro­duc­tion of fuel tanks and chas­sis at the Port El­iz­a­beth plant was an­nounced in Au­gust 1963 and from then on lo­cal con­tent in the pro­duc­tion of Land Rovers in­creased steadily to 44% of ve­hi­cle weight by 1972.

In 1974 Ley­land South Africa, as­sem­blers of Land Rover, had three assem­bly plants in the coun­try. Lo­cal con­tent in­creased fur­ther in 1980 with the Se­ries IIIS mod­els fit­ted with lo­cally pro­duced petrol and diesel en­gines. The unique to South Africa Se­ries IIIS was dis­tin­guished from ear­lier Se­ries Iii-mod­els that were lo­cally-built by the flush front of the Stage I V8-model, a vari­ant which was never sold in South Africa. Only two body types were avail­able from the fac­tory, a pick-up and a 12-seat sta­tion wagon.

The diesel was a lo­cally-built 3.8-litre four-cylin­der known as the At­lantis or ADE4 and 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 came stan­dard with an oil cooler. Around 5 000 were built be­fore pro­duc­tion stopped in 1985.

In 1992 the Black­heath fac­tory in the Cape Prov­ince was iden­ti­fied as the largest Land Rover CKD assem­bly out­side the UK, but in 1995 pro­duc­tion moved to a small plant in Ross­lyn, out­side Pretoria.


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

How­ever, a new bell hous­ing was de­signed be­cause the M52 en­gine was tilted 10 de­grees and needed to be longer to 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, air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem, en­gine wiring, tachome­ter gauge, and 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 24-valve 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, To­tal pro­duc­tion un­til 2001 was 1 395, which 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 spe­cial de­cals on the sides. Each were ran­domly num­bered be­tween 1 and 50, as 24 50th An­niver­sary edi­tion 110s were also built, but only with a diesel en­gine. The spe­cial 110 was called “Sa­fari” and painted a lime­stone green colour.

Time­line: 70 years of Land Rover

1948 Land Rover Se­ries I launched at the Am­s­ter­dam Mo­tor Show 1953 Long wheel base ver­sion of the Se­ries I in­tro­duced 1956 Univer­sity teams com­plete Lon­don to Sin­ga­pore ex­pe­di­tion in Se­ries I

1958 Land Rover Se­ries II un­veiled 1970 Orig­i­nal two-door Range Rover (the Clas­sic) goes on sale 1971 Land Rover Se­ries III launched 1972 Range Rover crosses Darien Gap on 18 000-mile Transamer­ica run

1976 One mil­lionth Land Rover built 1979 A Range Rover wins in­au­gu­ral Paris-dakar rally (and again in 1981)

1981 Land Rover be­gins 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 launched

1997 New Free­lander un­veiled with new tech­nol­ogy: Hill De­scent Con­trol 2001 Third-gen­er­a­tion Range Rover with in­de­pen­dent air sus­pen­sion re­vealed

2003 In­au­gu­ral G4 chal­lenge sees 16 teams tra­verse USA, SA, and Aus­tralia

2004 Range Stormer Con­cept pre­views Range Rover Sport and three-door body 2004 Third-gen­er­a­tion Dis­cov­ery launched at New York Mo­tor Show

2005 All-new Range Rover Sport un­veiled

2006 Free­lander 2 launched; first Land Rover to be man­u­fac­tured at Hale­wood

2007 LRX con­cept pre­views de­sign of a new lux­ury com­pact SUV 2009 Fourth-gen­er­a­tion Land Rover Dis­cov­ery in­tro­duced 2010 Range Rover Evoque lux­ury com­pact SUV makes global de­but 2012 Fourth-gen­er­a­tion Range Rover in­tro­duced – the first al­la­lu­minium SUV 2013 New gen­er­a­tion of Range Rover Sport un­veiled in New York 2014 Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle Op­er­a­tions (SVO) divi­sion of­fi­cially launched 2014 Range Rover Sport SVR de­buts; fastest, most pow­er­ful

Land Rover

2014 Dis­cov­ery Vi­sion Con­cept pre­views de­sign for new Dis­cov­ery fam­ily 2014 Dis­cov­ery Sport launched, new pre­mium com­pact SUV with 5+2 seat­ing

2015 Trio of end-of-line De­fender edi­tions re­vealed 2015 Ex­clu­sive Range Rover Svau­to­bi­og­ra­phy LWB launched in New York

2015 Evoque Con­vert­ible, the first lux­ury com­pact SUV con­vert­ible in the world

2016 Last De­fender rolls off the pro­duc­tion line

2016 New Dis­cov­ery launched 2017 Land Rover launches the fourth Range Rover, the Ve­lar 2018 Lim­ited Edi­tion Range Rover SV Coupé de­buts at Geneva Mo­tor Show

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