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The History Of Land Rover

The History Of Land Rover

1872 The Beginning - How it All Started

John Kemp Starley sets up his first business in Coventry with William Sutton to be called Starley & Sutton. They developed safer and easier to ride bicycles and tricycles. (Remember the Penny Farthing was all the rage at this time.)

1884 The Rover name is first used.

Starley & Sutton uses the name 'Rover' for the very first time by calling their new Tricycle "The Rover 'Safety' tricycle" This after some success was followed by "The Rover 'Safety' bicycle". The Rover 'Safety' was a forerunner of the modern pedal bicycle

Rover Safety Cycle.jpg

1888 Rover Electric Carriage prototye.

Starley & Sutton produces a prototype Electric tricycle though is not developed beyond this stage.

1896 Rover Cycle Company Limited

As the Rover branding has become well known, the Starley & Sutton company is renamed as The Rover Cycle Company Limited.

1899 Starting to look at Combustion Engines

John Kemp Starley purchases some Peugeot Motorcycles from France and fits one of the engines into a Rover Cycle frame.

1901 Passing of the Founder

John Kemp Starley passes away suddenly at the age of 46, the company is then taken over by Henry Lawson.

1902 First Motorcycle

The first motorcycle is produced, 3.5hp engine in a simple diamond frame.

1904 First Production Rover Car

The first production Rover car know as the Rover Eight, a small two seater which continued till 1912.


1906 Cycle production stops

Tricycle and bicycle production stops, as the company concentrates all production on the Motor Car and the company is renamed to reflect this change, to Rover Company Limited.

1933 New Managing Director Appointed at Rover

We now see Spencer Wilks becoming Managing Director to the Rover Company Limited.
Spencer Wilks makes a very important appointment by bringing his brother, Maurice, to the Rover Company and specifically in to the design department.

1946 Maurice Wilks Farm.

Maurice Wilks had been making use of a war surplus "Willys Jeep" on his farm on Anglesey. He found that the "Jeep" was useful for a variety of practical farm uses. But finding replacements parts for the "Jeep" were starting to become difficult, so started to consider a replacement which highlighted a gap in the market for a farm vehicle that was smaller than a tractor but more versatile. Thus an idea is born.

1947 A Land Rover Is Born

Sept 4:The Land Rover project first fully explained to the Rover Car Company Board of Directors. The project was approved for full production (before the prototype was made)

Oct 15: First photos of finished prototype (80")


Oct 16: The name "Land Rover" was approved by Board of Directors


Apr 20: The Times first publicly reports the Land Rover

Apr 30: Land Rover shown to public at Amsterdam Car show. The vehicle is equipped with permanent four-wheel drive, a canvas roof and optional doors. Doors become standard within months.



First Land Rovers sold into USA and Canada (via Roots Motors, Inc.)


A metal hardtop is offered as an alternative to the canvas roof.

Tickford Stationwagon production starts

Tickford 1950.jpg

April. First show of Land Rover in USA at British Automobile and Motorcycle show


Autumn. Wheelbase lengthened from 80" to 86"


The first 107-inch, long-wheelbase model is introduced.

Autumn. 100,000th Land Rover built


Both short- and long-wheelbase Land Rovers gain two inches to become 88-inch and 109-inch models, respectively.

Autumn. 107" introduced to USA

Land Rover reaches agreement with Metalurgica de Santa Ana, S.A. They build Santana Land Rovers, production reaching 18,000 by 1980.


The first diesel-powered Land Rover is produced.


March. Series II introduced

Land Rover ends relationship with Roots Motors, Inc and established a presence in North America as Rover Motor Company of North America, headquartered in Toronto, Canada


November. 250,000th Land Rover built


US Land Rover HQ moves to New York, NY


September. Series IIA announced

In the Bush.jpg


12 Seat 109 announced for home market (to avoid a tax)

September. 109" Forward Control announced.


April. 500,000th Land Rover built

September. NADA (North American Dollar Area) 109" announced. Rover is first non-US manufacturer to introduce emissions controlled vehicles into USA


June/July. Range Rover prototype #1 built

RR Proto.jpg

Rover Motor Company merges with Leyland. Leyland becomes dominant


Leyland merges with British Motor Holdings (owned Jaguar and BMC to form British Leyland Motor Corporation

The Series IIA's headlamps are moved from the radiator grille to the front wings to meet the new lighting regulations of several export territories.


June. Range Rover first appears in public (2 door) The vehicle is equipped with permanent four-wheel drive, a V8 engine, solid axles and coil springs.


June. 750,000th Land Rover built

September. SIII announced

October. SIII launched October with a synchromesh gearbox, a new radiator grille and an all-new interior.



British Leyland abandons North American Market for Land Rover

4th Quarter: British Leyland nationalized


British Leyland Motor Company changes its name to British Leyland, Ltd.


June. 1,000,000th Land Rover produced


Land Rover, Ltd is formed, with plans to double production by the 1980s.


February. Land Rover V8 3528cc (stage 1) announced based on a 109in with permanent four-wheel drive via a central differential lock. The grille had to be moved forward to be in line with the headlights.


British Leyland collapses in North America


4 door Range Rover introduced


The Land Rover Series III County station wagon becomes available, featuring a more refined interior.


March: Land Rover 110 Announced at Geneva Motor Show

The Land Rover 110 with a new coil-spring suspension, five-speed gearbox with all-synchromesh, one-piece windscreen and power steering is launched.

4th quarter: 127" (also called 130) Crew Cab made available


January: The 2495cc diesel is launched and replaces the aging 2286cc diesel engine.

June: Land Rover 90 (92.9") launched


Land Rover vehicles are being sold in 120 countries.

The current 2286CC petrol engine is replaced with a new 2495cc engine


A new 2495CC turbo-diesel is launched providing 85bhp.


16 March. NAS Range Rover launched in USA

26 October. Official opening of Range Rover of North America HQ in Maryland.


Land Rover is bestowed with its fourth Royal Warrant by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, joining warrants from HM Queen Elizabeth II; HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother; and HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. Land Rover is the only vehicle manufacturer to possess all four Royal Warrants.

British Areospace buys Rover Group from British Government for £150,000,000.


Land Rover Canada established
Honda buys 20% stake in Rover

1st half. Production of Discoveries (3 door) starts

September. Discovery introduced at Frankfurt Auto Show, the first all-new Land Rover in 19 years 2.5L 200 TDi (111bhp diesel) introduced, exclusively on Discovery


Land Rover 90 and 110 model names changed to Defender 90, 110 and 130 with the new 200 Tdi fitted with a slightly lower 107bhp.

June. Land Rover sells its 23% share of Land Rover Santana

Autumn. 5 Door Discovery announced.


5 Door Discovery introduced to Europe


1st August. Range Rover of North America changes its name to Land Rover of North America

500 limited-production run of Defender 110's to the USA, 25 to Canada, fitted with a 3.9 litre V8 engine goes on sale.

High Capacity Pick-up announced

Autumn. 108" Range Rover introduced


200 TDi fitted to Range Rovers

Range Rover County LWB (long wheelbase) with its revolutionary Electronic Air Suspension (EAS) system, is introduced.

4th Quarter: Defender 90s first sold in US ('94 models)


11 January. Last 2 door Range Rover built

31 January. Announcement of BMW buying the Rover Group ( which includes Land Rover) from British Areospace for £800,000,000

Discovery launched in Canada


Launch of Discovery (5 door) in USA

200 TDi production ceases.

An all-new Range Rover is introduced at the Paris Motor Show. It is the first clean-sheet redesign of the legendary Range Rover in the vehicle's 25-year history. Range Rover County Classic is introduced to continue the original vehicle's time-honoured design.


2.5L 300 TDi introduced

February. Last Range Rover Classic built.

March Range Rover 4.0 SE is introduced in U.S.

September Range Rover 4.6 HSE is introduced in the U.S.

The 4.0 litre Discovery and the two-door hardtop Defender 90 join the U.S. line-up.

December. Defender imports cease in the United States.

Land Rover's annual production tops 100,000 units for the first time.


The first-ever automatic-transmission Defender 90 becomes available.

The Freelander, aka CB40, a new Land Rover model is revealed.


One final year of Defender imports to the United States starts.

Land Rover launches Freelander, an all-new four-wheel-drive range, at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It is available in the U.K. late in the year in two- and four-door models. Freelander is the first production vehicle ever to offer Hill Descent Control (HDC), a system that helps to maintain optimum vehicle speed and driver control while the vehicle is descending steep, slippery slopes.


In a feat billed as the "The World's Longest Test," two new Land Rover Discovery Series IIs set off from the Land Rover assembly site in Solihull, England, en route to the Paris for the 1998 Paris Motor Show. They take the long way: a trip around the world. Having completed a nearly 18,000-mile shakedown, Discovery Series II is launched with much fanfare on September 29 at the Paris Motor Show. The first complete re-engineering of Discovery, the all-new Discovery Series II features Land Rover's exclusive Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Active Cornering Enhancement (ACE), a first for volume-production sport-utility vehicles. ACE measures and actively minimizes the vehicle's body lean during cornering.

December - The Defender receives the 122bhp five cylinder TD5 engine, the 300Dti is still available for export and from Land Rover Special Vehicles for a short time after.


January Discovery Series II introduced to USA

Land Rover North America sets an all-time sales record, reaching 29,380 vehicles, a 37 percent increase over calendar year 1998.


May. At a gathering on the grounds of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, Land Rover executives and more than a thousand faithful enthusiasts meet to celebrate Range Rover's 30th anniversary. Range Rover was launched at the Earl's Court Motor Show on June 17, 1970 and has been a critically acclaimed success ever since. As of June 2000, thirty years since the introduction, more than 425,000 Range Rovers have been produced. Land Rover produces 400, special-edition 30th Anniversary Range Rovers to mark the occasion.

June The Ford Motor Company purchases Land Rover Group Limited, a newly created company separate from Rover Group, from BMW AG for $2.7 billion (3 billion Euros.) The transaction is completed on June 30, 2000. Robert A. Dover is named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Land Rover Group, Ltd.


New Range Rover launched to replace BMW designed P38 Range Rover.


The all new Land Rover Discovery 3 is launched, a completely new design from the wheels with a new range of engines.


Land Rover introduces the all new Range Rover Sport, based on the the Discovery 3 chassis

Land Rover replaces the BMW M52 V8 engine with a modified version of the Jaguar AJ-V8 engine in the Range Rover.

The Rover Car Company collapses under the ownership of the MR Rover Group. The Rover brand name was only licenced and remains in the ownership of BMW.


A new 2.4 litre 122bhp four cylinder diesel engine (Ford Transit sourced engine known as the Puma/DuraTorq TDCI), with 6-speed gearbox, new dash and forward facing seats announced for the Defender.

The all new Freelander 2 launched.

Ford acquires the Rover brand from BMW


8 May - The 4,000,000th Land Rover rolls off the production line, a Discovery 3 (LR3), it was donated to The Born Free Foundation

12 June - The Ford Motor Company announces that it plans to sell Land Rover and Jaguar Cars.

August Motor manufacturers Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra express their interest in purchasing the company, and also financial sponsors Cerberus Capital Management, TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management also joined in the talks with The Ford Motor Company with regards to buying Land Rover and Jaguar Cars.


26 March to 2 June - Tata Motors acquired Jaguar and Land Rover from The Ford Motor Company, Tata merged the two companies to become Jaguar Land Rover.


The fourth generation Discovery is launched as Discovery 4 & LR4


The Range Rover Evoque is launched


The fourth generation Range Rover is launched at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

A new 2.2 litre engine introduced to replace the 2.4 litre in the Defender, with power levels remaining the same with Euro V compliant emissions.


Land Rover produces the LXV special edition defender to celebrate 65 years of Land Rover. The model is painted Santorini Black with Corris Grey Roof, grille and headlamp surrounds. Inside it has full leather seats with contrasting orange piping and LXV on the front headrests. (LXV is the roman numerals for 65)


Land Rover unveils the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Hybrid Models.

The New Discovery range is unveiled at the 2014 New York Show with the all new Discovery Sport replacing the Freelander


Three new special edition Land Rover Defenders launched as production of the Defender is coming to an end.

Land Rover launches the new Ingenium range of refined, lightweight, efficient and highly adaptable diesel engines.


New Ingenium range of Petrol engines now launched by Land Rover

The Transcend research project revealed, a revolutionary gearbox with an innovative ultra-wide ratio spread that integrates low-range gear box, dual clutch and hybrid technologies.
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