On June 17th in 1970, the Range Rover brand was born as the Range Rover Classic rolled off the Land Rover assembly line. Forty years later and the luxury 4×4 brand is still going strong as Land Rover prepares to celebrate the introduction of a new model in the coming weeks (likely at a celebration on the 17th).
Surprisingly, for a vehicle with such a long history, the Range Rover has only gone through three model changes, including a lengthy first generation that stretched from 1970 all the way to 1994. The second generation model then arrived in 1994, being replaced by the current SUV in 2001. During the late ’90s and early ’00s the era of the luxury SUV emerged and yet despite vehicles like the Lincoln Navigator, BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne and Jeep Grand Cherokee (another legend), the Range Rover continues to be the hallmark for luxurious off-road-capable vehicles.
And with a storied past, the future of the Range Rover looks to hold far more for the iconic model, with new parent company Tata Motors making heavy investments in order to introduce light-weight new platforms and even hybrid technology.
GALLERY: 40 Years of the Range Rover
Official release after the jump:
ICONIC RANGE ROVER TURNS 40
MAHWAH, N.J., June 1, 2010 – The Range Rover, one of the most significant vehicles in the history of motoring, will celebrate its 40th birthday on June 17, 2010. It was the world’s first vehicle as good on-road as off-road. The Range Rover was the first fully capable luxury 4×4 and was a milestone in the development of the SUV.
There have been three generations of Range Rover. The original, now known as the Classic, went on sale in 1970 and continued in production, with numerous upgrades and a multiplicity of variants, for just over 25 years.
The second-generation vehicle went on sale in 1994 and was replaced in 2001 by the current model. The continuing success of the Range Rover ensured that other premium makers jumped into the booming luxury SUV market. The latest version has enjoyed higher annual sales than any previous models and continues to be popular around the world. Sold around the world, from London to Los Angeles, Sydney to Shanghai, Turin to Tokyo, the Range Rover remains the ultimate choice for the luxury SUV customer.
“The Range Rover is really four vehicles in one,” says managing director Phil Popham. “It’s a seven-days-a-week luxury motor car, a leisure vehicle that will range far and wide on the highways and off-road trails of the world, a high performance car for long distance travel, and a working cross-country vehicle.”
From princes to politicians, from rock gods to rock climbers, from footballers to farmers, the Range Rover has always appealed to a diverse group of customers.
A second model line, the Range Rover Sport, was launched in 2005, aimed at more sports-oriented driver-focused customers. It has been a great success, and in 2007 was Land Rover’s biggest selling vehicle worldwide.
Later this year, a further member of the Range Rover family will be added, taking the portfolio to three model lines. The new vehicle will be smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient, tying in perfectly with the Range Rover brand’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Yet it will be no less premium, no less luxurious, and no less special than the other Range Rover models.