Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
A chronological day-by-day history of Land Rover.
Engineer Gustaf Larson and SKF sales manager Assar Gabrielsson met by chance over a plate of crayfish, and after enjoying their meal agreed to start up production of 'The Swedish Car', ie Volvo. Their vision was to build cars that could withstand the rigors of the country's rough roads and cold temperatures. The first Volvo car rolled off the production line at the factory in Gothenburg in 1927. Only 280 cars were built that year. The first truck, the "Series 1", debuted in January 1928, as an immediate success and attracted attention outside the country. In 1930, Volvo sold 639 cars, and the export of trucks to Europe started soon after; the cars did not become well-known outside Sweden until after World War II. Pentaverken, who had manufactured engines for Volvo, was acquired in 1935, providing a secure supply of engines and entry into the marine engine market. The first bus, named B1, was launched in 1934, and aircraft engines were added to the growing range of products at the beginning of the 1940s. In 1963, Volvo opened the Volvo Halifax Assembly plant, the first assembly plant in the company's history outside of Sweden in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1999, the European Union blocked a merger with Scania AB. That same year, Volvo Group sold its car division Volvo Car Corporation to Ford Motor Company for $6.45 billion. The division was placed within Ford's Premier Automotive Group alongside Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. Volvo engineering resources and components would be used in various Ford, Land Rover and Aston Martin products, with the second generation Land Rover Freelander designed on the same platform as the second generation Volvo S80. The Volvo T5 petrol engine was used in the Ford Focus ST and RS performance models, and Volvo's satellite navigation system was used on certain Aston Martin Vanquish, DB9 and V8 Vantage models. Ford sold the Volvo Car Corporation in 2010 to Geely Automobile of China for $1.8 billion. The move followed Ford's 2007 sale of Aston Martin, and 2008 sale of Jaguar Land Rover. Renault Véhicules Industriels (which included Mack Trucks, but not Renault's stake in Irisbus) was sold to Volvo during January 2001, and Volvo renamed it Renault Trucks in 2002. Renault became AB Volvo's biggest shareholder with a 19.9% stake (in shares and voting rights) as part of the deal. Renault increased its shareholding to 21.7% by 2010.
The Rover Board sanctioned the production of an ‘all-purpose vehicle on the lines of the Wills-Overland Jeep’. It was agreed to build 25 vehicles for evaluation, although this was later extended to 50. The Land Rover’s body was made of more expensive aluminium because steel was still in short supply. Announced abroad, at the Amsterdam Motor Show of 1948 and initially priced at £450, the vehicle’s functional design, sound engineering and go-anywhere specifications, coupled with optional four-wheel drive, meant that it was in immediate demand the world over and since then over 70% of output has been exported. Originally a 1.6-litre overhead-inlet, side exhaust 4 cylinder engine was employed, as used in the Rover 60 car, but from 1951 this was enlarged to a 2-litre and from 1957 there was a diesel option, the first of many options. Output soared. The 100,000th Land Rover was built in 1954 and the millionth in 1976.
Land Rover (1948)Show Article
The name "Landrover" was officially approved by Rovers Board of Directors. 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.
The Land Rover was introduced at the Amsterdam Auto Show. Brothers Maurice and Spencer Wilks, developed the vehicle as a result of a conversation about Maurice's American 4x4. Realising the gap in the British market for such a vehicle, they quickly produced a prototype out of aluminium and steel, metals that were still rationed in England at the time. They used interior components from their Rover saloon cars. Featuring four-wheel drive and a 1.6 litre engine from the Rover P3 60 saloon, it was shown with a canvas top and optional doors. Doors eventually became standard, as did a system where two and four-wheel drive could be selected in the high range with permanent four-wheel drive in the low range.
Land Rover (1948)Show Article
The first ‘For Sale’ Series II Land Rover vehicles rolled off the production line. The regular model had a 2-litre petrol engine and cost £640.
Land Rover Series IIShow Article
The Land Rover Series II was officially released to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Land Rover launch date. It came in 88 in (2,200 mm) and 109 in (2,800 mm) wheelbases (normally referred to as the 'SWB' and 'LWB'). This was the first Land Rover to receive the attention of Rover's styling department- Chief Stylist David Bache produced the familiar 'barrel side' waistline to cover the vehicle's wider track and the improved design of the truck cab variant, introducing the curved side windows and rounded roof still used on current Land Rovers. The Series II was the first vehicle to use the well-known 2.25-litre petrol engine, although the first 1,500 or so short wheelbase (SWB) models retained the 52 hp (39 kW) 2.0-litre petrol engine from the Series I. This larger petrol engine produced 72 hp (54 kW) and was closely related to the 2.0-litre diesel unit still in use. This engine became the standard Land Rover unit until the mid-1980s when diesel engines became more popular. The regular model with a 2-litre petrol engine cost £640.
Land Rover Series IIShow Article
The 15 thieves involved in the Great Train Robbery, one of the most famous heists of all time, escaped in an ex-British Army truck and two stolen Land Rover four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles, making off with some $7 million in stolen loot. The mastermind of the Great Train Robbery was Bruce Reynolds, a known burglar and armed robber. Inspired by the railroad heists of the Wild West in America, Reynolds and 14 other men wearing ski masks and helmets held up the Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow, Scotland, and London, England. They used a false red signal to get the train to stop, then hit the driver with an iron bar, seriously injuring him, in order to gain control of the train. The thieves loaded 120 mailbags filled with the equivalent of $7 million in used bank notes into their Land Rovers and sped off. The vehicles had been stolen in central London and marked with identical license plates in order to confuse the police.
Great Train Robbery - 1963Show Article
Maurice Wilks (59), the automotive engineer responsible for the inspiration and concept work that led to the development of the Land Rover off-road utility vehicle, died. At the time of his death he was the chairman of the Rover Company. Born in 1904 Maurice Carey Wilks was educated at Malvern and gained his initial experience of the motor industry with General Motors, for whom he worked for two years from 1926. From America he moved to the Hillman Motor Car Co. at Coventry, where he worked as a planning engineer for a further two years. In 1930 he joined the Rover Company as chief engineer, which position he held until he was made technical director in 1946. In 1960 he was appointed managing director of the Rover company, and in 1962 he became chairman. This position suited him as he could devote more of his time to engineering policy rather than day-to-day management. In 1930 with his brother, Spencer, who was then managing-director, he was largely responsible for taking the decision to produce only high quality cars.The boldness of his decision can be appreciated when it is remembered that the economy of the country and the industry in particular was at this time at a low ebb. During the war he headed the Rover team responsible for the development of the first production version of the gas-turbine aircraft engine. He was convinced that gas turbines would eventually play an important role as power units for wheeled vehicles.His foresight led the Rover Company to continue this development after the war and resulted in the first gas-turbine car being produced by the Rover Company in 1949. At this time he was a moving spirit in the development of the Motor Industries Research Establishment proving ground which ultimately became of such value to the industry as a whole. The decision to produce the Land Rover was also that of Maurice Wilks, in conjunction with his brother. Essentially a quiet, shy, studious man he shunned publicity and preferred to remain in the background. He had a brilliant knowledge of engineering detail and was regarded as one of the industry’s outstanding engineers, In addition, he had great boldness and the ability to foresee the requirements of his company for years ahead.
Maurice WilksShow Article
British Leyland Motor Corporation, Ltd was formed through the 1968 merger of British Motor Holdings Ltd. and Leyland Motor Corp. Ltd. to create the entities known as British Leyland Motor Corporation, Ltd. (1968–75), and British Leyland Limited (1975–78). It was renamed BL PLC in 1978. With headquarters in London, the company had interests in about 95 percent of the British automotive industry, and it manufactured vehicles ranging from commercial trucks and buses to private automobiles, construction equipment, and engines.Leyland, initially the dominant partner in the merger, was the first British manufacturer to concentrate on commercial vehicles. James Sumner of Leyland, Lancashire, built his first steam-driven wagon in 1884; and in 1896 he allied with the wealthy Spurrier family to set up the Lancashire Steam Motor Company, renamed Leyland Motors Ltd. in 1907, after its first experiments with gasoline engines. Except briefly in 1920–23, the company did not produce automobiles until 1961, when it acquired Triumph Motor Co. Ltd. (Triumph had begun in 1903 as a motorcycle manufacturer and began making cars in 1923.) In 1966 Leyland merged with another car manufacturer, The Rover Co. Ltd. (founded 1904), and the combined companies became Leyland Motor Corp. Ltd. The first chairman of the new British Leyland in 1968, Donald Gresham Stokes, Baron Stokes, had also been the old Leyland’s last chairman. British Motor Holdings Ltd. had a much more complex history, but basically it grew out of three auto manufacturers: Morris, Austin, and Jaguar. Early in the 20th century William Richard Morris (later 1st Viscount Nuffield) founded a garage in Oxford, which after 1910 became known as Morris Garages Limited. In the 1920s, with Cecil Kimber as general manager, it began producing the popular M.G. cars, which were manufactured until 1980, when they were discontinued because of rising production costs. The M.G. Car Company was created in 1927 and was absorbed by another Morris car company, Morris Motors Ltd., in 1935. In that same year, another organization, Wolseley Motors Ltd. (founded in 1901 and taken over by Morris in 1927), was similarly absorbed. In 1952 another venerable car manufacturer, Austin Motor Co. Ltd. (founded in 1905 by Herbert Austin), merged with Morris Motors to form British Motor Corporation Ltd. It continued to turn out Austin, Morris, M.G., and Wolseley cars and the highly successful “Mini” series. Although production of the Mini Cooper ended in 1971, the model was relaunched in 1990 and by 2001 was selling internationally through parent company Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW). The first Jaguar car was produced in 1936 by S.S. Cars Ltd. (founded 1932 in Coventry), which was renamed Jaguar Cars Ltd. in 1945 both to avoid the accidental reminder of the German SS and to highlight the name of the make that had proved to be most successful. Jaguar in 1960 bought Daimler Co. Ltd. (founded 1893), makers of limousines and other prestige cars; and in 1961 it bought Guy Motors Ltd. (founded 1919), a commercial-vehicle manufacturer. In 1966 Jaguar amalgamated with the Austin-Morris interests (i.e., the British Motor Corporation) to form British Motor Holdings Ltd., which two years later merged with Leyland to become British Leyland; in 1984 Jaguar was sold. With two successive name changes, British Leyland became BL Limited in 1979. The company assumed its current name in 1982. In 1981 BL entered into a joint venture with Honda Motor Company, Ltd., of Japan to produce Japanese-designed Triumph Acclaims in the United Kingdom. BL began selling its interests in the 1980s, and by 1990 the Ford Motor Company had acquired full ownership of Jaguar. BMW purchased Rover in 1994 but later sold the sport utility vehicle (SUV) brand to Ford, which continued to develop the Land Rover line of SUVs as part of its Premier Automotive Group. That group also comprised Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Volvo.
British Motor Holdings (BMH) merged with LMVC (Leyland Motor Vehicle Corporation) to become British Leyland Motor Corporation. It was partly nationalised in 1975, when the UK government created a holding company called British Leyland, later BL, in 1978. It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, which constituted 40 percent of the UK car market, with roots going back to 1895. Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history. In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China's SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration. Today, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks (now owned by BMW Group, TATA and Paccar, respectively) are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart), continue to operate independently.Show Article
British Leyland was nationalised. It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, which constituted 40 percent of the UK car market, with roots going back to 1895. Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history. In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China's SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration. Today, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks (now owned by BMW Group, TATA and Paccar, respectively) are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SAIC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses, such as Unipart), continue to operate independently.
The Land Rover One Ten was announced at the Geneva Motor Show. Specially commissioned for the show, the Rolls-Royce Camargue Beau Rivage ("Beautiful Shore") built by Hooper and Co was sold within two hours of being displayed to the public.Show Article
Protesters tried to stop Land Rover motor company being sold to US.Show Article
The state-owned car company BL plc formerly British Leyland, said that it was pursuing two offers for its Land Rover division after negotiations with the General Motors Corporation collapsed. Range Rover of North America, Inc. soon established its headquarters in Lanham, Maryland with Charles R. Hughes as President and CEO. Just before Christmas 1985 Range Rover of North America (later changed to Land Rover North America), was established to pave the way for a US launch in 1987.Show Article
Austin-Rover was renamed the Rover Group. It initially included the Austin Rover Group car business (comprising the Austin, Rover, Mini and MG marques), Land Rover Group, Freight Rover vans and Leyland Trucks. The Rover Group was owned by British Aerospace (BAe) from 1988 to 1994, when BAe sold the remaining car business to the German company BMW. The group was further broken up in 2000, when Ford acquired the Land Rover division, with the Rover and MG marques continuing with the much smaller MG Rover Group until 2005. Ownership of the original Rover Group marques is currently split between BMW (Germany), SAIC (China), and Tata Motors (India).
Rover Group logo 1986Show Article
The Land Rover Discovery was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Code-named "Project Jay", the new model was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the more upmarket Range Rover, but with a lower price aimed at a larger market segment intended to compete with Japanese offerings. This was the only Discovery generation with a four-cylinder petrol engine.
Land Rover Discovery IShow Article
Major job cuts were reported to be on the way at the Rover Group as the recession affected demand for the company's Rover and Land Rover products.Show Article
World premiere of the Smart city-coupé and the European launch of the Land Rover Freelander at the IAA in Frankfurt, Germany.
Smart City-coupéShow Article
Ford Motor Company announced that it has reached a memorandum of understanding to buy Land Rover from the BMW Group.Show Article
BMW sold the bulk of the Rover Group (the Rover and MG marques) to the Phoenix Consortium, while it retained the rights to the Mini marque, and sold Land Rover to Ford.Show Article
BMW Group and Ford Motor Company announced that they had signed a definitive agreement for Ford to buy the Land Rover business from BMW.Show Article
Ford officially took ownership of Land Rover from the BMW Group.
Ford bought rights to the Rover name from BMW for approximately £6 million. Ironically no Rover branded cars were produced whilst Ford owned the brand. As part of Ford's agreement to sell their Jaguar & Land Rover operations early this year to Tata Motors, the Rover brand name was included in the deal.Show Article
India's Tata Motors offered £1.03bn for Ford's Jaguar and Land Rover brands, according to a Press Trust of India report carried in local newspapers.Show Article
Ford Motor Co. named Tata Motors Ltd. the top bidder for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands and entered into "focused negotiations at a more detailed level."Show Article
The Ford Motor Company announced the sale of its Jaguar and Land Rover divisions to the Tata Group, one of India's oldest and largest business conglomerates, for some $2.3 billion--less than half of what Ford originally paid for the brands. The sale came at a time when Ford, along with much of the rest of the auto industry, was experiencing a sales slump as a result of the global economic crisis. For Tata, which earlier that year had unveiled the Nano, the world's cheapest car, the purchase of the venerable British-based luxury brands was referred to by some observers as a "mass to class" acquisition.
India’s Tata Motors launched its ultra-cheap ($2,000) two-cylinder 624 cc Nano car in Mumbai. The vehicle was hoped to herald a revolution by making it possible for the world's poor to purchase their first car. Creative cost-saving was evident throughout the Nano. Flat side glass, a single wiper and no tailgate, three wheelnuts instead of four and a single door lock all help to keep the price low. But although the entry-level model was spartan, the CX and LX models had air-con. Incredibly for such a cheap car, a huge range of accessories and customisation options are offered, from decal sets to bodykits and dashboard trims. The 625cc, twin-cylinder engine develops 35bhp, but with only 600 kg to carry, a 50-55 mph cruise was achievable. The low weight meant that all-round drum brakes could be utilised. Despite the cheaper technology, the Nano had independent suspension front and rear, but was designed without anti-roll bars. With such a small engine, fuel consumption was variable with load and speed, but 55mpg was an easy average. The steering, not power-assisted, was light at parking speeds, and reasonably sharp. It rode well over India's terrible roads, thanks in part to tall 65 and 70 section tires. The second-generation Nano was expected to be sold in the United States by 2015. The original Nano is not street legal in the US, and cannot legally be sold as a grey market import until 2034, when the original 2009 models receive a 25-year exemption from the US Customs and Border Protection. Despite a readily-available dealership network in the US through the Jaguar Land Rover division of Tata, Tata Motors will not use Jaguar Land Rover to sell the Nano.
Tata NanoShow Article
Van maker LDV was placed in administration after the collapse of a rescue deal by Malaysian firm Weststar. The assets were sold and up to 850 jobs and thousands more in the supply chain were lost. LDV was formed in 1993 as Leyland DAF Vans Limited following a management buy-out of DAF NV's Leyland DAF van manufacturing division, following the bankruptcy of the Dutch company. Later the name was officially changed to LDV Limited. Prior to its merger with Leyland Trucks and DAF Trucks in 1987 it was part of the British Leyland / Austin Rover Group empire and was latterly the Freight Rover arm of the Land Rover Group division. In December 2005, after going into administration, LDV was bought by group Sun Capital Partners/Sun European Partners and was subject to a financial restructuring. What Van reported LDV's commitment to its existing customers, including an assurance from their marketing director that their production target of 1000 vans per month would put them well above break-even point. The Russian GAZ Group acquired LDV on 31 July 2006, and also established a new company, GAZ International, based in the United Kingdom, to focus on the automotive industry.The BBC reported a GAZ spokesperson as saying that the company had appointed former Ford of Europe executive Martin Leach and former A.T. Kearney executive Steve Young to run the business, and that it planned to expand production at LDV's Birmingham plant by adding new product lines and entering new markets in Europe and elsewhere. GAZ had plans to export LDV technology to Russia, and start producing the Maxus at the GAZ Nizhny Novgorod plant in Russia with 50,000 as an initial volume. There were also proposals to export the GAZ Maxus to Australia, a traditional market for British Leyland. However, GAZ's plans never really showed any increased output, and due to the severe worldwide recession and a lack of long-term investment and commitment, production was halted at LDV's Birmingham factory in December 2008. After United Kingdom's Government tried once again to save the company by agreeing to pour in £5 million of grants to enable Malaysia's WestStar Corporation to purchase LDV, WestStar failed to secure financing.
Britons Robert Belcher and Stephen Cooper driving a Land Rover Discovery arrived at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town to set a new world record for driving from London to Cape Town, making the 10,000-mile journey in 10 days, 3 hours and 16 minutes. The pair left London at 0500 GMT on Friday 4 October 2013 from the RAC Club on Pall Mall. En route, they encountered heavy rain and thunderstorms in Tunisia, a tense border crossing into Libya following US military activity, a fuel shortage in Egypt and giant potholes in Ethiopia. They visited 13 countries in all: England, France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. Passing through Europe in the first 27 hours, the pair managed to cover more than 1,700 miles – 17% of the total mileage in just 11% of the target time.Show Article
The last ever Land Rover Defender produced was rolled out of Jaguar Land Rover's Solihull plant in the UK.Show Article