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Land Rover Range Rover

Land Rover Range Rover

1 Jun 1972

Range Rover debuted in 1970.

First it was the British Government that controlled BMC/British Leyland until British Aerospace purchased it as part of the Austin Rover/Rover Group, with Honda having a small stake in the firm.

Then – from 1994 – BMW took control until it split up the loss-making concern and sold Land Rover to the Ford Motor Company in March 2000.

One of the most significant automotive developments, the all-wheel drive’s rise from mud-plugging commercial vehicle to luxury icon status started right here in 1970.

Land Rover never meant for it to be like this and the early Range Rover models were basic.

Aluminium body panels clothed a form-over-function go-anywhere two-door wagon body style featuring five seats and a split-level tailgate.

Underneath there was a full ladder-frame chassis, full-time 4WD, coil-spring and self-levelling suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and an alloy 97kW 3.5-litre V8 (GM Buick designed) married to a dual-range four-speed manual gearbox for maximum off competent on-road performance as well as excellent off-road ability.

Australians had to wait until 1972 for the first Range Rovers to arrive. From then onwards there were constant improvements and refinements.

Power steering and a rear window wiper became optional in 1973 (and standard by late 1978), while there were modifications to the instrumentation, seating and cabin trim.

A lower-compression version of the 3.5-litre V8 engine arrived in time for the tough new anti-pollution laws from July 1976, which saw power drop to 84kW. Local assembly began in Sydney during 1979.

A locally sourced Borg Warner three-speed automatic transmission became an option in June 1980. That’s when the bumpers became black.

During 1982, a four-door wagon arrived, dramatically opening up the Range Rover’s appeal despite the 2540mm (or, more famously, 100-inch) wheelbase remaining the same.

Simply put, Land Rover managed to squeeze in four doors where two doors once sufficed. In both body styles, a higher-compression 3.5 V8 saw power rise again, to 92.6kW.

The gear ratios and surrounding cabin trim were altered, while the Aussie auto gave way to a Chrysler Torqueflite three-speed auto unit.

Local assembly ceased during 1983 while the luxury Launch Pack Wagon (renamed HiLine in ’85) introduced signature Range Rover items such as timber trim, alloy wheels and armrests.

In early 1984 a series of changes brought on a five-speed manual gearbox, yet another automatic gearbox revision, mechanical (instead of vacuum-operated) diff lock, central locking, better electrics and factory-fitted (instead of after market) air-conditioning.

New colours, a longer list of luxury features, improved ventilation, a redesigned centre console, increased security and a more efficient tailgate function rounded off the changes.

It also heralded the last of the two-door Range Rover wagons.

Land Rover models

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