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Range Rover 5.0 and Classic anniversary drive

Nick Dimbleby
Range Rover 5.0 and Classic
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A suppose we would do one with the first Range Rover Do a DNA test - the result would be 99 percent clear: It is the forefather of today's luxury SUVs. At least here, in Europe. An important ingredient for the Range's success story came from America, which is why we are celebrating its 45th birthday there too.

All-rounder Range Rover with 3.5-liter V8

The wildest urban jungle should ever be sought be, New York City would have the best chance for the title. The hustle and bustle in the gorges between the glass giants never subsides, no matter how many tracks the streets offer.

In addition to the army of yellow taxis, especially large SUVs strut across the fully occupied asphalt stages. No wonder, their owners have a better overview of everything up there. They also appreciate the diversity of their cars: during the week they take the family from A to B under protection, at weekends they carry them all out into the country and, if necessary, pull trailers that weigh tons. Even if the toughest test for your all-wheel drive is to climb the highest curb in the most stylish way possible - the feeling that such a car can really get through anywhere is an unbeatable selling point.

This trend began in America in the 1960s. Rover engineers got wind of this while looking for new ideas. American car dealers told the curious British that there was a growing market for all-wheel drive recreational vehicles. That is to say: More and more customers longed for the motorized egg-laying woolly milk sow. So once 'car with everything' - with great driving comfort, good off-road talent and enough power. There were already offers for this group of buyers back then - for example the Jeep Wagoneer, the Ford Bronco and the International Harvester Scout. All of them comfortable, tall bodies with powerful gasoline engines and selectable four-wheel drive.

Charles Spencer 'Spen' King, chief engineer for cars at Rover in England and also a clever guy, recognized the American symbol immediately. With plenty of Land Rover in his blood - the brand was part of Rover at the time, but was founded in 1948 by his two uncles Spencer and Maurice Wilks - he dreamed of adding the comfort and driving experience of his sedan with the 4x4 talents of a Land Rover cross.

In 1966, work began on the first prototype of the RangeRover, the 100-inch station wagon. Although it did not fall within King's domain, he advocated modern materials and pioneering technology. Therefore, the body and the 3.5-liter V8 that Rover bought from General Motors were made of aluminum. All four wheels got coil springs and brake discs.

Land Rover's chief engineer at the time, Tom Barton, didn't like it at all. He did not want to be patronized by the passenger car department and could not imagine that such a luxurious SUV could be sold for the price of a classy limousine.

Already at the end of 1970, around six months after the Presenting the finished two-door Range Rover, he and the rest of the critics were reassured. The plan worked, the Range Rover was well received. Which was mainly due to his convincing way of gliding powerful, comfortable and elegant over any surface. The concept was as surprising as new in Europe. Strictly speaking, it is the mix that Spen King had in mind back then that has made the Range Rover successful to this day - and describes the ongoing trend for SUVs.

Range Rover stylishly through the decades

This also becomes clear on our little journey through time with the two Range Rovers. Although the two are 45 years apart, they embody this casual, unmistakable style. They swim like noble little yachts through the dense traffic of Manhattan, the overview is good, the comfort is impressive, the feeling of security is terrific.

Although the Classic is simply equipped from today's perspective, the driver feels wonderfully decoupled from the noise and stress of the environment. It's the same in the current model - here, passengers can be pampered with plenty of luxury if they so desire. What is the most pleasing after the tour with both models? The fact that even after four generations the range is not intrusive, not embarrassing, not playful. You buy his technical talents from him without wanting to test them immediately. But most of all, we like its unmistakable style - the brand has been smart enough to this day not to water it down or even to save it.

Although Land Rover has had different owners in recent years - each with quite different strategies -, and the high-priced competition increases, the Range Rover have retained their own class. They don't win every comparison test, but they win many customer hearts.

Also in North America, where, curiously, the range wasn't launched until 17 years later than ours - even though the trend there was so clear back then was.


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