History of Land Rover

"One life, live it"

Over 60 Years On and Still Going Strong

land rover history

The first Land Rover made its debut in 1948. It was designed with brilliant simplicity for extraordinary ability and unrivalled strength and durability. In fact, six decades on it is estimated that two-thirds of all these incredible vehicles are still at work – many of them in some of the most extreme conditions and inhospitable places on earth.

The original 1948 Land Rover was ingeniously designed and engineered for extreme capability and strength. With extremely robust construction and characteristics such as short front and rear overhangs, it drove off the production line ready to take on some of the world’s toughest terrain. Today these qualities are as significant a part of what makes a Land Rover vehicle unique as they were 60 years ago.

The Land Rover was the product of continuous evolution and refinement throughout the 1950s and 1960s with improved stability and a tighter turning circle. It was a period in which Land Rover took the lead in the emerging market for four-wheel drive vehicles.  As a tough, reliable mobility platform, countless organisations came to depend on Land Rover vehicles to get personnel and equipment into the most challenging situations…and then safely out again.  From organisations such as Born Free Foundation to The Royal Geographical Society and Biosphere Expeditions - we enter the second decade of the 21st century with them still relying on Land Rover

In keeping with the forward-thinking philosophy that founded Land Rover, a radical, entirely new product was introduced in 1970 and created its very own vehicle category. This overnight sensation was the original Range Rover. It had all the capability of a Land Rover with the comfort and performance of an on-road car.

This culture of innovation has developed ever since with both Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles: new models, more refinement, more innovative technology, more efficiency and fewer emissions. And it continues with initiatives such as e_Terrain Technologies (which improves the environmental performance of vehicles by reducing CO2 emissions), Sustainable Manufacturing and CO2 Offsetting. Land Rover will remain at the forefront of advanced design – the new small Range Rover is a testament to the vision that takes the company forward and keeps it at the cutting edge of technology and engineering.


1947: Rover's chief designer Maurice Wilks and his associates create a prototype using Jeep chassis and components[22]

1948: The first Land Rover was officially launched 30 April 1948, at the Amsterdam Motor Show

1949 First Land Rovers sold into USA and Canada (via Roots Motors, Inc.)

1950 April. First show of Land Rover in USA at British Automobile and Motorcycle show

1953 Autumn. Wheelbase lengthened from 80" to 86"

1954 Autumn. 100,000th Land Rover built

1956 Autumn. 107" introduced

1958: Series II launched

1959 November. 250,000th Land Rover built

1960 US Land Rover HQ moves to New York, NY

1961: Series IIA began production

1962 12 Seat 109 announced for home market (to avoid a tax)

September. 109" Forward Control announced.

1966 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

1967: June/July. Range Rover prototype #1 built

Rover becomes part of Leyland Motors Ltd, later British Leyland (BL) as Rover Triumph

1970: Introduction of the Range Rover (2 door)

1971 June. 750,000th Land Rover built

Series III launched

1975: BL collapses and is nationalised, publication of the Ryder Report recommends that Land Rover be split from Rover and be treated as a separate company within BL and becomes part of the new commercial vehicle division called the Land Rover Leyland Group

1976: One-millionth Land Rover leaves the production line

1978: Land Rover Limited formed as a separate subsidiary of British Leyland[23]

1979 February. Land Rover V8 (stage 1) announced

1980: Rover car production ends at Solihull with the transfer of SD1 production to Cowley, Oxford; Solihull is now exclusively for Land Rover manufacture. 5-door Range Rover introduced.

1983: Land Rover 90 (Ninety)/110 (One-Ten)/127 (renamed Defender in 1990) introduced

1986: BL plc becomes Rover Group plc; Project Llama started

1986: Range Rover is introduced to the U.S market in April 1986

1988: Rover Group is privatised and becomes part of British Aerospace, and is now known simply as Rover

1989: Introduction of Discovery

1993 200 TDi fitted to Range Rovers

1994: Rover Group is taken over by BMW. Introduction of second-generation Range Rover. (The original Range Rover was continued under the name 'Range Rover Classic' until 1995)

Last 2 door Range Rover built

1997: Land Rover introduces the Special Edition Discovery XD with AA Yellow paint, subdued wheels, SD type roof racks, and a few other off-road upgrades directly from the factory. Produced only for the North American market, the Special Vehicles Division of Land Rover created only 250 of these bright yellow SUV's.

1997: Introduction of Freelander

1998: Introduction of second generation of Discovery

2000: BMW breaks up the Rover Group and sells Land Rover to Ford for £1.8 billion[24]

2002: Introduction of third-generation Range Rover

2004: Introduction of third-generation Discovery/LR3

2005: Introduction of Range Rover Sport

2005: Adoption of Jaguar AJ-V8 engine to replace the BMW M62 V8 in the Range Rover

2005: Land Rover 'founder' Rover, collapses under the ownership of MG Rover Group

2006: Announcement of a new 2.4-litre diesel engine, 6-speed

gearbox, dash and forward-facing rear seats for Defender. Introduction of second generation of Freelander (Freelander 2). Ford acquires the Rover trademark from BMW, who previously licensed its use to MG Rover Group

2007 8 May: 4,000,000th Land Rover rolls off the production line, a Discovery 3 (LR3), donated to The Born Free Foundation

2007 12 June: Announcement from the Ford Motor Company that it plans to sell Land Rover and also Jaguar Cars

2007 August  India's Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra as well as financial sponsors Cerberus Capital Management, TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management expressed their interest in purchasing Jaguar Cars and Land Rover from the Ford Motor Company.[25]

2008 26 March: Ford agreed to sell their Jaguar Land Rover operations to Tata Motors.[8]

2008 2 June: Tata Motors finalised their purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford.[10]

2010: Introduction of fourth-generation Discovery/LR4

2011: The Range Rover Evoque introduced

2012: Fourth-generation Range Rover was exhibited at the 2012 Paris Motor Show

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