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65 Years Of Land Rover

By raccars Published

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Rising from the ashes of post-WWII Britain came the Land Rover, the original SUV that has since become a hardcore agricultural workhorse, as much as it has a fashion accessory. To celebrate, fans can buy a special anniversary edition - Defender 90 LXV.

Produced in a limited run of 65 units at £28,765 each, the LXV comes with 16" 'Sawtooth' alloys, a union flag decal on the rear panel and a Santorini Black colourway with contrasting Corris Grey roof, headlight surrounds, grille and fascia. There are various cosmetic upgrades, such as leather-upholstered seats with contrasting orange stitching and LXV embossed on the head restraints.

Such sophisticated fare is far from the original 80" Series I vehicle that launched the brand in 1948. Initially conceived as an export product for Rover, such was its success, that Land Rover became a band in itself, one which has survived the demise of its parent company and remains with us in relatively unchanged form, 65 years on. By the following decade, Austin had responded with its Gipsy, a more superficially sophisticated but less robust version that, nonetheless, forced Land Rover to reluctantly update its original to compete. The resulting 1958 Series II set the template for a design still easily recognisable in current Defenders.

The Land Rover was as popular with the British armed forces as it was with farmers and military sales made up a large chunk of the company's production quotient. Land Rover's engineers worked closely with the military to develop the Lightweight for an initial run of 72 units for the Marines. However, so useful was this utilitarian vehicle, that it was then requested by the Army, then released for export. Production stopped in 1984, after 20,000 units.

1970's Range Rover was a combination of the original Land Rover, with the comfortable Rover 2000 saloon from 1963. It caught on immediately but early models didn't offer the luxury and convenience features that have come to embody the prestige reputation Range Rover has today. While such models are highly desirable classics today, many were destroyed through over-enthusiastic off-roading.

In 1989, Land Rover set out to satisfy families who needed an everyday blacktop runaround but enjoyed mudplugging at weekends. The Discovery's combination of sophistication and versatility unfortunately spawned a whole new trend and market segment, designated the 'Chelsea Tractor,' as mothers began to see the advantages of this kind of vehicle on the school run.

Land Rover and its stablemate, Jaguar, are now under Indian ownership but remain resolutely British in spirit. The brand is currently going from strength to strength, with a promising expansion programme.

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