- PUBLISHED ONLINE
- 22 JULY 2015
Range Rover turns 45 this year. To celebrate, we've rounded up 45 things you might not know about our pioneering luxury 4x4.
Find out what Madonna, the Pope, the Louvre, the Sultan of Brunei, a Kobold watch, Johnny Cash, Edmiston yachts, Ralph Lauren and a colossal underground flood defence deep under the streets of Tokyo all have in common…
1. Country music legend Johnny Cash was known as The Man in Black, but he drove a classic Range Rover that was rather more colourful. ‘It was an ’89 model that had been used in the French production of The Jungle Book,’ he wrote in his 1997 autobiography, Cash, ‘and it featured an appropriate paint job: a base of matte black, my favourite colour, embellished all over with brightly coloured, hand-painted jungle plants and animals.’
2. Until recently, a Land Rover concept vehicle was a rare occurrence, which goes some way toward explaining why the dramatic Range Stormer, with its upswept doors, Mobius strip-inspired seats and saddle leather trim, caused such a stir. Not only did it point the way for the look of the soon-to-follow Range Rover Sport, but it was also the first Land Rover to showcase the then-all-new Terrain Response technology.
3. Charles 'Spen' King, the visionary engineer behind the Range Rover, drove a Rover 2000 road car on the farmland around the Solihull site to assess the effects of coil springs on an off-road vehicle – a radical idea for the time.
4. During the prototype stage in the 1960s, Range Rovers were cunningly labelled with VELAR badges in order to fool any journalists who were on the lookout for a scoop. Stories differ as to what VELAR stood for: the official story is that it is a Spanish word for ‘to protect or take care’; other accounts say it stood for ‘Vee Eight in a Land Rover’ or that it’s from the Italian velare, meaning ‘to veil or cover’.
5.The Chinese characters that represent the name Range Rover in China translate as ‘Capturing Victory’.
6.The Italian Riva speedboat was one of the design inspirations behind the 3rd-generation Range Rover. The Riva’s tapering rear lines are echoed in the exterior design of the Range Rover, while the metallic finishes of the interior were inspired by the capstans and pulleys of luxury racing yachts.
7. One of the most exciting feats ever to appear on Top Gear took place in 2006: Range Rover Sport versus a Challenger 2 military tank. The Range Rover Sport’s superior agility and solid off-road credentials meant that presenter Jeremy Clarkson was able to outmanoeuvre the 62-tonne tank for a good while before coming into target range (though, in the end, the British Army gunners held back from actually firing).
8. In 2005, a Range Rover Sport traversed the ‘world’s most dangerous road’ in Bolivia. The precarious road runs at 15,000 feet above sea level on a route between La Paz and Coroico, and it’s known as El Camino de la Muerte (Death Road) because on average around 250 people die on the road each year, thanks to its precarious 2,000-foot drops, landslides, waterfalls and extreme weather.
9. The Range Rover Sport SVR will feature in the forthcoming James Bond film, Spectre. What you might not know is that Range Rover vehicles have also starred in: Quantam of Solace (driven by 007 himself), Casino Royale, Layer Cake, Eastern Promises, Snatch, RocknRolla, Kiss the Girls, Syriana, Ocean’s Eleven (and Twelve and Thirteen), Under Suspicion, The Football Factory, The Player and many more.
10. Soon after its launch, the Range Rover was being hailed as a design icon. A scale model of the vehicle was put on display at the Louvre in Paris in an exhibition that highlighted the influence that design and designers have on the British way of life. The model featured fully operating doors, seats, tailgate and a complete instrument cluster.
11. The armoured Range Rover repelled eight live ball rounds from the barrel of a Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle, eight bullets from a Makarov pistol, and a 7.62mm live ball round fired from a distance of 32 feet. The bulletproof glass is 40mm thick, and the floorpan can withstand two DM71 hand grenades. An optional built-in Oxygen system protects all five occupants against gas attack, the tyres boast run-flat technology, and the suspension has been fine-tuned – because a fast getaway is still the best form of defence.
12. Did you know that 85% of the Range Rover Evoque can be recycled? This is part of Land Rover’s commitment to a sustainable lifecycle for the model – which is still Land Rover’s most fuel efficient – and includes metals, glass, polymers and fluids from the vehicle.
13. Although it has outstanding off-road ability, when engineers developed the Range Rover Sport, they placed the emphasis firmly on-road. Testing was carried out on the notorious Nürburgring, where it clocked up over 5,000 miles, hit speeds of 130mph, and lapped the track in an amazing 8 minutes, 49 seconds. Each lap has 73 corners and endless combinations of radius, camber and gradient, so it’s not hard to see why the Range Rover Sport became such an accomplished performance vehicle.
14. Range Rovers endure rigorous testing to establish how they will withstand the challenges of driving on and off-road in varying conditions. For example, in order to prove how it would fare over 15 Canadian winters, the prototype for the 3rd generation Range Rover had to endure eight weeks of driving around an intense jet saltwater test track. In addition to that, demisting and de-icing systems were put through their paces at -30ºC. Find out more about our demanding testing process here.
15. The Land Rover LRX concept car of 2008 pointed the way to the Range Rover Evoque, which was released in 2011. A small, light, cross-coupé that was true to its heritage, yet small and sustainable, LRX wowed crowds with its sophisticated styling and innovative technological features.
16. In the 1970s and 1980s, British company Wood and Pickett customised Range Rovers. The vehicles would often be given more power and wider wheels, and the interiors would be kitted out with Recaro seats, sports steering wheels and additional dials, according to the customer’s requirements. The vehicles were re-badged as Sheer Rovers and proved popular with some of the biggest celebrities of the time, such as Peter Sellers. In the late 1970’s, Wood and Pickett were also consultants on the first Range Rover Vogue.
17. In the 1970s, specially-built six wheel Range Rovers were used as fire trucks. Some of them are still in use today.
18. At the heart of every Range Rover and Range Rover Sport is the Terrain Response system. This technology uses eight electronic control units and the latest high-tech wizardry to guide 11 systems, including suspension settings and traction control. There are 500 system set-up combinations to help deal with any terrain you come across, so it’s like having an expert in the vehicle with you.
19. Trevor Baylis, most famous for inventing the wind-up radio, bought his first Range Rover from the proceeds of his work as an underwater escape artist in a Berlin circus. Dressed as a pharaoh and entombed in a fake Egyptian coffin, he was plunged into 110 feet of water. There was just enough time – and air – for Trevor to push off the nailed-down lid, but what the gasping audience didn’t know was that the coffin also contained an ingenious hydraulic ram system to help him escape.
20. The Range Rover Evoque’s bold, athletic design and all-terrain capability ushered in a new chapter for Range Rover back in 2011. Its success has been remarkable – since then, the model has won an extraordinary 165 awards in 28 countries.
21. Madonna used her Range Rover as a mobile medical unit on the set of her then-husband’s 2008 movie RocknRolla. Madge set up shop as distributor of vitamins to a run-down cast - which included Hollywood darling Gerard Butler - from the back seat of her vehicle. In related trivia, Madonna and Guy Ritchie also used Range Rovers for their wedding at the exclusive Skibo Castle in the Scottish Highlands.
22. When Pope John Paul II waved to the crowds of faithful in the UK in 1982, he did it from the back of a converted white Range Rover. It was the first ‘popemobile’ to sport bulletproof glass sheets to protect the pontiff, deemed necessary after an assassination attempt in 1981.
23. Prince Charles has had his Range Rover converted to run on 100 per cent biodiesel as part of a broad effort to reduce the royal household’s carbon footprint. He’s even had the Range Rover’s garage at Birkhall lined with an insulating turf made from recycled tyres to ensure that the car is not exposed to serious sub-zero temperatures, which can result in the vehicles’ special fuel becoming too thick to flow properly.
24. In 1970, there had never been another car like the Range Rover, so Land Rover’s advertising agency came up with the slogan ‘The Car For All Reasons’ to help sell the vehicle to the public.
25. A unique off-road race took place in summer 2013, as the then All-New Range Rover Sport went head-to-head with a Vickers Supermarine Spitfire. Find out how these two supreme examples of British engineering fared on the straight drag run down and back on a runway:
26. Rumour has it that iconic fashion house Ralph Lauren approached Land Rover North America to collaborate on a special edition Ralph Lauren Range Rover – although this didn’t happen in the end. However, Land Rover’s connection with that leading fashion brand is clear – in 2006, the Range Rover Sport spent several weeks in the front window of Ralph Lauren’s Madison Avenue store in New York.
27. Fancy a diamond-studded Range Rover Sport? Paris Hilton has been quoted as saying she would like to decorate hers with diamonds, but US music mogul Damon Dash has beaten her to it. His jewellery brand, Tiret New York, has created a Range Rover Sport featuring diamond-encrusted dials derived from Tiret’s signature timepieces, and a top-spec version of the vehicle will set you back a mere £420,000.
28. In 2008, luxury yacht producers Edmiston turned their hand to designing Range Rovers, with the Edmiston Superyacht Range Rover Design Competition. Seven of the world’s leading yacht designers were invited to submit their designs, and Andrew Winch took the final prize with his ‘Sea Rover’, a teak and stainless steel beauty with a removable glass roof.
29. In 1970, the introductory price of the Range Rover was set at approximately £2,000 – just under half the price of the average house. By 1978, thanks to a decade blighted by inflation, the price of a Range Rover had reached £9,000.
30. Two Range Rovers were sent to Morocco for extreme hot weather testing before full production got underway. The 3,500-mile journey was documented in the film Sahara South, which is still available to buy at the Heritage museum website.
31. The 2nd-generation Range Rover Sport was launched in New York in 2013. In a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood movie, several streets in Manhattan were shut down to allow James Bond (Daniel Craig) to dramatically drive the car to a launch event.
32. Jeremy Clarkson loved the Range Rover so much that he proclaimed it the best car in the world. In The Sunday Times, he wrote: ‘Over the past 30 years, I’ve road-tested thousands of models… and written millions of words on the subject. But all the while, the answer to absolutely everyone’s motoring problem has been right under my nose. The Range Rover.’
33. When it came to the look of the original Range Rover, Charles 'Spen' King (an engineer and not a trained designer) was left to his own devices, because at that time, priority in the styling studios was being given to other Rover vehicles. Like many engineers, King felt that form should always follow function, and as a result, came up with a simple but elegant design. It was so good that when David Bache and his dedicated design team took up the project, they only had to make minor revisions to King’s design.
34. Beneath the streets of Tokyo is a colossal waterway called the G-Cans Project, a world of enormous tunnels, water tanks, silos and turbines. It was used in a landmark US Range Rover Sport advertisement, which saw the vehicle splashing and climbing its way through this epic warren on an unconventional subterranean commute.
35. In 2014, the most powerful Range Rover ever was unveiled. The first model to be designed by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, the SVR – equipped with a V8 Supercharged 550HP engine – can do a ferocious 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 162mph.
36. The world’s first premium compact SUV convertible will go on sale next year. Following on from a convertible concept model teased in 2012, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible was officially confirmed at Geneva Motor Show 2015. And it had a remarkable testing ground: the convertible was put through its paces on the 26-mile network of Crossrail tunnels, 40 metres under the streets of London. Watch the video to find out more:
37. In 1985, the first diesel Range Rover, codenamed ‘Project Bullet’, ran at over 100mph for 24 hours at the MIRA test track in the UK. It broke 27 diesel-powered records in the process.
38. During its early development in the 1960s, the Range Rover was known as ‘The 100-inch Station Wagon’.
39. To celebrate 20 years of the Range Rover in America in 2007, American watchmaker Kobold developed a clock specially designed for the dashboard of a limited edition Range Rover. Just 40 of the vehicles were built, and demand was so high that there was a lottery to determine who would be allowed to purchase one of the vehicles. Along with the £89,000 price tag, each vehicle also came with a set of handcrafted watches made from aerospace-grade titanium.
40. The Sultan of Brunei, formerly the richest man in the world, has a custom-made gold Range Rover for official ceremonies. Not that he doesn’t have others to choose from – it’s just one of his collection of over 5,000 luxury cars.
41. The six-millionth Land Rover ever built was a 2015 Range Rover. The special Yulong White Range Rover Long Wheel-Base was fitted with a unique puddle lamp that projects a ‘6,000,000 Land Rover’ graphic every time the vehicle is unlocked. The car celebrated 67 years of Land Rover and took centre stage at Shanghai Auto Show.
42. A can of Coke was poured directly onto the Terrain Response dial of the Range Rover Sport as part of a ‘human error’ test. It convinced engineers that the dial could cope with the most demanding drivers.
43. In 2013, three Range Rover Hybrid prototypes became the first non-Chinese vehicles to drive on China’s demanding Xinjian-to-Tibet highway. The route – which was the Chinese leg of the epic Silk Trail 2013 expedition – took five days and nights to cross, at altitudes of up to 17,500ft.
44. The ‘In Vogue’ was a limited edition version of the Range Rover that was launched in conjunction with Vogue magazine, following a Lancôme and Jaeger photoshoot in Biarritz in 1981. The ‘In Vogue’ vehicle featured special paintwork, an upgraded interior and a picnic hamper strapped into the boot for added luxury. Just 1,000 were made in the original run, though this was subsequently increased when demand quickly outstripped supply.
45. In 2000, the Range Rover Linley was introduced. With a price in excess of £100,000, the vehicle was conceived by Viscount Linley, the bespoke furniture maker and chairman of Christie’s UK. The special edition was limited to just ten vehicles and was inspired by his Metropolitan range of furniture (below), hence the Piano black exterior finish and the black leather and ebony veneer of the interior. Incidentally, the vehicle that was used in all of the publicity shots was sold after the launch to a retailer in Wales, but within hours of its arrival, it was stolen from outside the workshop and was never seen again.
- PUBLISHED ONLINE
- 22 JULY 2015