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April 2018

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Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones discusses inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China


PEERLESS LUXURY 1966 | Work begins on ‘100-inch Station Wagon’ 1967 | Construction starts on 26 Velar-badged prototypes 1970 | Launched in UK on 17 June and priced at £1,998 | Safety features include dual-circuit brakes | First car to be displayed at the Louvre The greatest and longest-lasting car designs are often associated with one brilliant engineer with a simple, singular idea for an entirely new kind of vehicle. That purity of vision and the freedom to implement it without dilution are essential to create a car which is a turning point in motoring history. Maurice Wilks, Rover’s Engineering Director had the vision for the original Land Rover, and he was given the freedom to build what he’d envisioned by his brother Spencer, the firm’s Managing Director. In 1966, less than twenty years after the launch of the Land Rover, the company began work on what would soon become its second ‘turning point’ design, and it was another visionary engineer that would lead this project. But Charles Spencer ‘Spen’ King shared more than just inspiration with the Wilks brothers. He also shared one of their names, because he was their nephew. This was no case of nepotism. Spen King not only correctly foresaw the coming global boom in SUVs, but he knew exactly how to cater for it with the world’s first luxury off-roader. “ The idea was to combine the comfort and on-road ability of a Rover saloon with the off-road ability of a Land Rover. Nobody was doing it at the time. It seemed worth a try and Land Rover needed a new product” CHARLES SPENCER ‘SPEN’ KING A NEW BREED His car had a few names before it was revealed to the world as the Range Rover in 1970. It was first known internally as the ‘100-inch Station Wagon’ while being developed, and by the design department as the ‘Road Rover’. The early road-going prototypes were famously badged ‘Velar’, meaning ‘to cover’ or ‘to veil’ in Spanish and Italian to disguise the origins of this distinctive new car. The Velar name would recur later in the Range Rover’s history, after it had become a family of vehicles. But Spen’s vision didn’t change. It was for a new breed of car that would use coilsprung suspension to deliver the comfort and refinement of a luxury saloon while matching or even exceeding the off-road ability of the Land Rover. With the help of legendary chassis engineer Gordon Bashford, who had worked with Spen’s uncles on the original Land Rover, he produced exactly that. TECHNOLOGY WITH FINESSE AND STYLE It is a formula which has been deliberately retained, and is still as appealing. And unlike the original, more utilitarian Land Rover, incorporating technology advancements and distinctive design were part of that formula from the start. The Range Rover was launched with safety advances such as four-wheel dualcircuit brakes and collapsible steering columns. A series of new technologies, many of them world-firsts, would debut on later Range Rovers. Spen King laid down the car’s basic proportions but legendary designer David Bache finessed its form into something stylish, introducing design features which remain to this day such as the ‘flying’ roof and the castellated MAJESTIC APPEAL Unsurprisingly, the world’s first luxury off-roader appealed to the British Royal Family, who began using the Range Rover Classic from its launch in 1970. The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was famously pictured sitting on the bonnet of one at the Grand National. In 1999, the Queen’s nephew Viscount Linley, a bespoke furniture maker was commissioned to create a very limited edition Range Rover. Just six ‘Linleys’ were made, and they were the first Range Rovers to sell for over £100,000. In 2015, the Royal Mews commissioned a unique, longwheelbase ‘landaulette’ for Her Majesty with an open rear roof, continuing a tradition of State Review Land Rovers going back to 1953, although the early ones didn’t have a hybrid engine. And Prince George, the future King, made his first car journey home from hospital in his fathers Range Rover Vogue SE. This car was later auctioned for charity. PHOTOGRAPHY: YUI MOK / PA IMAGES, BRITISH MOTOR MUSEUM HERITAGE TRUST (4), PICTURE ALLIANCE 38

RIGHT XXXXXX 1972 | Trans-Americas expedition traverses the Darien Gap 1974 | Crosses the Sahara: 7,500 miles in 100 days 1977 | Wins class in 18,750-mile London-Sydney marathon 1979 | Wins class in Paris-Dakar, before overall win 1981 1981 | First participation in Camel Trophy in Sumatra 02 01 PHOTOGRAPHY: XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX 03 01 Charles Spencer ‘Spen’ King in his younger days 02 A model of the Range Rover Classic was exhibited at the Musée du Louvre in the early 1970s 03 Designer David Bache, the mastermind behind the Range Rover’s ‘floating roof’ 04 The first ‘Velar’ prototype 05 A Range Rover driven by French team Alain Génestier, Joseph Terbiaut and Jean Lemordant won its class in the 1979 Paris-Dakar Rally 04 05 39

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Land Rover Magazine


Land Rover Magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond.

In this issue, New Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.

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