70 YEARS OF ADVENTURE
Land Rover Celebrates its Heritage
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.
RESTORING THE ORIGINAL
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 AFRICAN LEGACY
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.
THE LEGENDARY 2.8I MODELS
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
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