If the hugely popular Land Rover was designed as an agricultural work horse, the vehicle to power Britain’s return to comfort after a difficult world war, then the Range Rover was designed to bring luxurious road transport to estate owners. In essence, the Land Rover’s pedigree (the Land Rover is a direct lineal forebear of the Range Rover) is for the workers on the land; the Range Rover’s is for the owners of that land.
Range Rover’s history nominally began in 1951, when Land Rover experimented with using a Rover P4 base to make a larger version of the Land Rover. This concept, which was intended as a road going vehicle, was shelved until 1966. At this point, Land Rover engineers began drawings for the model that would be released one year later, the inaugural 1967 Range Rover.
Range Rover accessories still carry the DNA of this concept in their appearance and their use. The idea behind the Range Rover was simply to create a luxury 4×4 – unlike the Land Rover, which was informed by the quite different need to eschew all frills in favour of utter reliability.
What the engineers at Land Rover saw was that the characteristics might be combined, by creating a Land Rover-based luxury vehicle. The Range Rover was to have the same reliability as the Land Rover, but with all the extras a wealthier client might expect. As such, it also became the first dedicated 4×4 vehicle in the UK not to have been designed to do specific off road work – in effect, the first full sized British 4×4 specifically intended for use on roads rather than away from them.
The initial range Rover design stayed fairly intact for 25 years, between 1967 and 1994. The second generation of the Range Rover was born when updated Rover V8 engines were added to the mix or consumers could opt instead for a BMW designed turbo diesel engine. Over the second generational period ownership transferred entirely to BMW, who made all engines for the third generation of the vehicle (the incarnation as it is currently known).
While original Range Rovers carried something of the square shape and functional look of their Land Rover forebears onto the roads, the modern Range Rover has become an almost entirely street styled machine. It is still capable of performing well off road (though not to the same degree as the Land Rover), concealing some serious power and 4×4 capability beneath its prettier exterior.
It is interesting to note that some of the design characteristics of the Range Rover have begun to rub off on the Land Rover, whose latest models have something of the extra styling originally associated only with the Range Rover.
Range Rover accessories aim to combine the off-road power potential and sophisticated city look of the machine with the lifestyles of its probable owner. As such, a Range Rover fan or owner may find a number of branded items designed to facilitate life in the country. These are picnic blankets, thermos flasks and map holders – all allowing the user to take his or 4×4 back to the land of its forefathers.