Range Rover – Find Out The Cars’ Origins And More
The Range Rover is a four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle (SUV) produced by Land Rover in the United Kingdom and currently owned by the India-based Tata Motors. It was first introduced in 1970 and was designed and developed by a team led by Charles Spencer King.
The original model was known simply as the Range Rover until almost the end of its life, when Land Rover introduced the name Range Rover Classic to distinguish it from its successors.
The second generation had the internal Land Rover code name “P38A”, and the latest generation is internally designated “L322″.
The original Range Rover of 1970 was not designed as a luxury 4×4, in contrast to the way that other utility vehicles such as the Jeep Wagoneer of the United States were. While certainly up-market compared to other Land Rover models, early Range Rovers had fairly basic, utilitarian interiors with vinyl seats and plastic dashboards that were designed to be washed down with a hose.
Convenience features such as power assisted steering, carpeted floors, air conditioning, cloth/leather seats, and wooden interior trim were fitted to later models which became premium-equipped versions that targeted the more upscale or “luxury” market segment.
The Range Rover was a body-on-frame design with a box section ladder type chassis, like the contemporary Series Land Rovers. The Range Rover utilized coil springs as opposed to leaf springs, permanent four-wheel drive, and 4-wheel disc brakes. However, the latest version uses a monocoque body structure.
The Range Rover was originally powered by the Rover V8 engine. Early models of the L322 were powered by a 4.4 L BMW V8, until the introduction of a 3.6 litre Turbo Diesel V8 engine.
In 1972 the British Trans-Americas Expedition became the first vehicle-based expedition to traverse the American continent from north-to-south. The specially modified Range Rovers used for this expedition are in the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust collection at Gaydon, Warwickshire, England.
Before 1987, Land Rover vehicles were only sold in the United States through the grey market. The Land Rover company began selling the Range Rover officially in the U.S. March 16, 1987. From that time until 1993, the U.S. marketing was all in the name of Range Rover, because it was the only model offered in the American market. In 1993, with the arrival of the Defender 110 and the imminent arrival of the Land Rover Discovery, the company’s U.S. sales were under the name “Land Rover North America”.
Range Rover History
Car manufacturer, Rover had been experimenting with a larger model than the Land Rover series as far back as the 1950s, with the Rover P4-based two-wheel-drive “Road Rover” project. This was shelved in 1958, and the idea laid dormant until 1966, when engineers Spencer King and Gordon Bashford set to work on a new model.
In 1967, the first Range Rover prototype was built, with the classic Range Rover shape but a different front grille and headlight configuration. The design of the Range Rover was finalized in 1969.
Range Rover Classic
The first-generation Range Rover, was produced between 1970 and 1996. Originally, the Range Rover was fitted with a detuned 135 hp (101 kW) version of the Buick-derived Rover V8 engine. The 3.5 litre (3528 cc) engine was bored out to a displacement of 3.9 litres (3947 cc) for the 1990 model year, and 4.3 litre (4275 cc) in 1992 (1993 model year) for the Long Wheelbase type. One of the first significant changes came in 1981, with the introduction of a four-door body.
The very first Range Rover was a green model with the registration “YVB 151H” and is now on exhibition at the Heritage Motor Centre in Warwickshire.
In February 1981 the “Range Rover Vogue” model was introduced which had significantly more luxury features.
The first-generation Range Rover spawned a number of specialist utility vehicles the most visible of which was the Carmichaels International 6-wheel Fire Tender. As originally conceived by Carmichaels, this was a two-door model with an extended chassis and a third “lazy” axle added. Designed for small airfield use, this had a water-pump mounted on the front bumper, and driven directly by the V8′s crankshaft. A number were ordered by the MoD for RAF use but Carmichaels were only contracted to supply the modified chassis whilst the fire-fighting body was supplied and mounted by Gloster-Saro. These were four-door versions using an internally mounted water-pump driven by a PTO off the gearbox. At least one of these (at Duxford IWM) has been converted into a full 6 x 4 by linking a drive-through unit to the two rear axles’ differentials.
Second generation Range Rover (1994–2002)
25 years after the introduction of the first-generation Range Rover, the second-generation was launched, model-designation P38A. This version had an updated version of the Rover V8 engines. There was also the option of a 2.5 litre BMW 6 cylinder turbo-diesel with a BOSCH injection pump. This was the first Diesel injection with electronic controls in a Land rover, before common rails were introduced. This was a result of BMW’s subsequent ownership of Rover Group & hence the Land Rover brand.
The new model was even more luxurious, it incorporated new engine management (smoother and more powerful) and improved air suspension that allowed automatic, speed proportional height adjustment. This could also detect when the vehicle is not parked horizontally and attempt to raise itself to maximum height in an attempt to gain horizontal leveling.
In 1999 the Range Rover’s V8 received a new Bosch engine management system from the BMW 7 Series. This replaced the Lucas GEMS system, which was not as reliable, but easier to repair. The diesel edition received an EGR system, which came with a plastic inlet manifold. Also, four-wheel traction control was added to the vehicle, which previously was rear wheel only. The Range Rover also received a newer sound system, with 300 watts and twelve speakers.
In 2000, the vehicle received smoked rear turn signals and clear turn signals in front.
Second generation special editions
30th Anniversary edition:
Model Year 2001. Manufactured in Wimbledon Green Pearl with green leather upholstery and cream piping. Also exists in dark grey. Available with a six-cylinder diesel and V8 engines. Only 200 were imported into North America. The North American version had Lightstone leather with green piping.
All were based on the 4.0 SE and had special dark brown leather interior with piping on the seats armrests with the words “Polo Edition” sewn in the front seats below a crest with the outline of a jockey playing Polo. There is also a Polo Edition badge on the fenders above the signal lights.
Holland and Holland edition
Made in collaboration with Holland and Holland (a famous gunsmith based in London, UK). Some of these were manufactured in dark green paintwork, brown leather upholstery with cream piping, gun boxes, H & H inscriptions throughout the vehicle, partially green painted alloys and every extra such as a DVD player and TVs throughout the vehicle. The Holland and Holland came with any metallic colour as an option. They were mainly sold as 2.5 diesels and did not always have gun boxes.
NAS 2000 Holland and Holland edition Range Rovers were equipped the same as their British counterparts except without a rear entertainment system, and retailed for US$79,000, which included Land Rover duffel bags (retail: US$1,500)
Range Rover Bordeaux
This edition was available with bright ‘Bordeaux Red’ paintwork and partially coloured alloys. Also included was cream leather upholstery with ‘Bordeaux Red’ piping and ‘Bordeaux Red’ carpeting throughout, including the inside of the tailgate. 200 Range Rover Bordeaux vehicles were manufactured: 100 4.0-litre petrol models and 100 2.5-litre diesel models.
Range Rover Westminster
This was available in either silver or grey paintwork and tinted alloys. The interior was available in “Westminster Grey” leather upholstery with black piping, light grey poplar wood interior, and further colour coordination to the carpets and ceiling. 400 Range Rover Westminsters were produced; 200 4.6 litre petrol models and 200 2.5 litre diesel models.
North American Westminster Edition Range Rovers were offered with the 4.6-litre V8 engine They came with the Oxford leather package, the dark popular wood, 18-inch Proline wheels and Java Paint was the only colour option available. A ‘Westminster’ badge was placed on the tail gate in place of 4.6 HSE. The vehicle was offered in the NAS 2002 model year. Only 300 were made and retailed over US$75,000
Range Rover Borrego
The Range Rover Borrego was a limited edition of 100 vehicles in North America. Each vehicle was painted AA Yellow and came with the Oxford leather seating package with yellow stitching and had all the same features as a base 4.6 HSE from the 2002 model year. In addition, the Borrego had the new Comet wheels introduced to North America by Land Rover. The vehicle was offered during the NAS 2002 model year. The Borrego retailed at US$72,665
Range Rover Vitesse
The Vitesse Edition was a limited run of 250 vehicles, half were painted Monza Red (Ferrari) and AA Yellow. The Vitesse came with all the features of a 4.6 HSE, NAS 1997 model, however featured black leather with yellow piping or red piping (based on exterior color), exterior plastic trim painted to match the color of the vehicle (lower bumper facia and mirrors) and came standard with the Harmon Kardon 300-watt stereo as well as chrome interior door handles. Vitesse is French for ‘speed’. The Vitesse Range Rover retailed US$3,500 more than the base 4.6 HSE.
In 2000, Land Rover reintroduced the Vitesse edition, however did not include the loud colours from the 1997 model. The 2000 NAS vehicle had a Navigation system standard. All were Java black with walnut leather and the Phone kit was not available as an option. All included wood pieces around the power window switches and had amber turn signals. The 2000 Vitesse had a sticker on the tail gate in place of 4.6 HSE. The suggested retail price was US$77,652.
Range Rover Rhino
The Rhinoceros edition Range Rover was offered as a NAS vehicle during the 2000 and 2002 model years, 125 were produced for each of the two years. The 2000 Range Rover Rhino came standard with all the features of a 4.6 HSE, including the optional navigational system and included Poplar Anthracite (grey coloured burled wood) and “rhino hide” leather interior. All 2000 Rhinos came with the 18-inch Hurricane wheels. Also, a small carved wooden sculpture of a rhinoceros was made by craftsmen in Africa, commissioned by LRNA, was given to the owners. The suggested retail price of the 2000 Rhino was US$77,000.
The 2002 Rhinoceros Edition Range Rover was similar to the 2000, except had an updated Navigation system, came equipped with the 18-inch Proline wheels but did not come with a wooden rhinoceros, it retailed at US$73,500.
Third generation Range Rover (2002-)
In 2002, the third-generation model was introduced which saw the model move further up-market. Initially it was planned and developed under BMW ownership with the project name L30, the new generation was planned as an AWD flagship accompaniment to the E38 7 Series saloon, sharing many components and systems (electronics, core power units etc.).
The 3rd gen Range Rover was initially designed to accommodate BMW’s M6 V8 Engines for future range-topping models. The manual transmission was dropped entirely, leaving only the automatic transmission. The E38 7 Series electronics system was being phased out during the development the third-generation model Range Rover and as a result was developed based on the electronics of the BMW E39 5-series.
The entire in car entertainment system were identical with the BMW E39 5-series. As a result the third-generation model Range Rover could be easily upgraded with the newest BMW technologies.
In a concerted effort to improve the Range Rover’s on and off road competence and at the same time to achieve more predictable crash performance, it was decided to adopt a monocoque (unibody) construction. It was also decided to move to 4-wheel independent air suspension. This new air suspension feature allowed variable ride height to suit on and off-road conditions. This was important to retain the off road excellence and the desired on-road improvements that were core to the marketing position of the new product.
The all-new Range Rover was introduced in 2001 with it and the Expediton being the only 2 4x4s with sophisticated 4-wheel independent suspension systems at that time. Before the vehicle was launched, Land Rover was sold onto Ford, as part of the splitting up of the Rover Group.
Jaguar-based V8 power units
Conscious of the need for more power to keep up with the Range Rover’s competitors, and reluctant to keep relying on BMW for power plants, Ford presided over the adaptation of engines from Jaguar (also Ford-owned) for Land Rover use. A 4.4 litre, 305 hp (227 kW) version of the Jaguar 4.2 litre V8 engine was developed and first used in the new 2005 Discovery/LR3 model, temporarily giving it more power than the Range Rover. At the 2005 Detroit Motor Show, a major update of the Range Rover was unveiled, with the base model using the LR3/Discovery 3 engine, and a premium model using a supercharged version of the Jaguar 4.2 litre V8 that developed 400 hp (298 kW).
Both engines were lightweight aluminium alloy units, with advanced torque-based engine management systems that, together with drive-by-wire throttle control and variable camshaft phasing (on the 4.4 litre version), continually adjust the engine to deliver optimum performance. Both the engines were specially adapted by Land Rover for better low speed torque characteristics so that they could perform excellent off-road as well as on.
Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport made its first appearance in late 2004, as a concept car under the name Range Stormer. This was a short wheelbase 3-door coupe and was the marque’s first complete concept car. It sported split-folding gullwing doors, one-piece skeletal seats and 22 inch alloys. After it was approved for production the final design was much more conservative featuring five doors and a wheelbase hardly shorter than that of the Range Rover Vogue.
The Range Rover’s exterior was updated for 2006 along with the BMW V8 being replaced with by Ford’s jaguar units. In addition to the engine change, the 2006 Range Rover was equipped with an updated “infotainment” system which included a touch screen with on and off-road navigation, radio, CD, Satellite Radio (US), telephone, rear view camera, a wireless video camera system and other additional features all accessed via the same user interface. The audio system was replaced by a Harman Kardon Logic7 surround sound system.
For 2007, all of the Range Rover’s changes were mechanical or interior.
On the inside, the hidden folding cup holder that popped out of the centre console in previous models was replaced by a simpler and more durable in-console design with sliding covers. The ignition switch was moved from the lower-part of the centre console up to the dashboard, next to the steering wheel and the Range Rover received the Range Rover Sport’s Terrain Response system as well as a redesigned four-wheel drive control panel.
The handbrake was changed to electronic. Additionally, the seats differ from the old style, slightly resembling the new Range Rover Sport with cooling fans optional on the HSE and standard on the Supercharged. Heated seats are standard across the board and the premium seats from the BMW era are no longer available.
The HVAC system was also updated with more vents and quieter operation. That, along with the acoustic laminated windscreen lower noise. An increase in interior storage is mainly attributed to the new split-dual glovebox. And then in a return to original Range Rover styling, more wood inserts were added to the doors and centre console. Mid-way through production of the 2007 model the style of the key was changed from the BMW design to Land Rover’s current “switchblade” type.
Also in 2007 the BMW M57 diesel engine was replaced by the 3.6 litre AJD-V8, a Diesel engine that was developed by Peugeot and Ford.
Other changes for 2007 included better brakes, and a revised suspension.
New Range Rover Sport 2010
For the 2010 Model Year refresh, the Range Rover sport gets an updated exterior grille, bumpers, LED head/tail lights and two new engines.
The interior has received a minor facelift, consisting mainly of redesigned and repositioned switchgear which saw many of the originally BMW era designed items updated or replaced, along with new options never before available for Range Rover.
The 2010 Range Rover also gained new visual display units as also seen in the new for 2010 Jaguar XJ (X351). This change consisted of a 12-inch TFT LCD virtual instrument panel, which replaces the conventional cluster design, instead ‘virtual’ gauges are displayed where physical analog gauges were previously. This allows various sets of information to be displayed as required, for example navigation and map information can be displayed instead of engine readouts, whilst when one of the off-road driving modes is selected on the Terrain Response system the ‘gauges’ are reorganized to provide space to display the schematic of the vehicle’s suspension, steering and transmission systems.
The other display unit is fitted to the centre console and uses a bi-directional screen to show different images depending on viewing angle. This allows navigational information to be displayed to the driver, whilst someone in the front passenger seat can use the same screen to use the onboard DVD player at the same time, for example. This system also contains a state-of-the-art multi-camera system from Valeo Vision Systems in Ireland, which allows the driver to see around the vehicle during maneuvers and which contains multiple overlays and views.
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