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Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones talks inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China

PEERLESS LUXURY 1966 |

PEERLESS LUXURY 1966 | Work begins on the ‘100-inch Station Wagon’ 1967 | Construction starts on 26 Velar-badged prototypes 1970 | Launched in the UK on June 17 and priced at ,767 | Safety features include dual-circuit brakes | First car to be displayed at the Louvre The greatest and longest-lasting car designs are often associated with one brilliant engineer with a simple, singular idea for an entirely new kind of vehicle. That purity of vision and the freedom to implement it without dilution are essential to create a car that is a turning point in motoring history. Maurice Wilks, Rover’s Engineering Director, had the vision for the original Land Rover, and he was given the freedom to build what he’d envisioned by his brother Spencer, the firm’s Managing Director. In 1966, less than 20 years after the launch of the Land Rover, the company began work on what would soon become its second ‘turning point’ design, and it was another visionary engineer that would lead this project. But Charles Spencer ‘Spen’ King shared more than just inspiration with the Wilks brothers. He also shared one of their names, because he was their nephew. This was no case of nepotism. Spen King not only correctly foresaw the coming global boom in SUVs, but he knew exactly how to cater for it with the world’s first luxury off-roader. “ The idea was to combine the comfort and on-road ability of a Rover sedan with the off-road ability of a Land Rover. Nobody was doing it at the time. It seemed worth a try and Land Rover needed a new product” CHARLES SPENCER ‘SPEN’ KING A NEW BREED His car had a few names before it was revealed to the world as the Range Rover in 1970. It was first known internally as the ‘100-inch Station Wagon’ while being developed, and by the design department as the ‘Road Rover.’ The early road-going prototypes were famously badged ‘Velar,’ meaning ‘to cover’ or ‘to veil’ in Spanish and Italian to disguise the origins of this distinctive new car. The Velar name would recur later in the Range Rover’s history, after it had become a family of vehicles. But King’s vision didn’t change. It was for a new breed of car that would use coilsprung suspension to deliver the comfort and refinement of a luxury sedan while matching or even exceeding the off-road ability of the Land Rover. With the help of legendary chassis engineer Gordon Bashford, who had worked with King’s uncles on the original Land Rover, he produced exactly that. TECHNOLOGY WITH FINESSE AND STYLE It is a formula that has been deliberately retained, and is still as appealing. And unlike the original, more utilitarian Land Rover, incorporating technology advancements and distinctive design were part of that formula from the start. The Range Rover was launched with advances such as four-wheel dual-circuit brakes and collapsible steering columns. A series of new technologies, many of them cutting edge, would debut on later Range Rover vehicles. Spen King laid down the car’s basic proportions, but legendary designer David Bache finessed its form into something stylish, introducing design features that remain to this day, such as the ‘flying’ roof and the castellated MAJESTIC APPEAL Unsurprisingly, the world’s first luxury off-roader appealed to the British Royal Family, who began using the Range Rover Classic from its launch in 1970. The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was famously pictured sitting on the hood of one at the Grand National. In 1999, the Queen’s nephew Viscount Linley, a bespoke furniture maker was commissioned to create a very limited edition Range Rover. Just six ‘Linleys’ were made, and they were the first Range Rover vehicles to sell for over 0,000. In 2015, the Royal Mews commissioned a unique, longwheelbase ‘landaulette’ for Her Majesty with an open rear roof, continuing a tradition of State Review Land Rover vehicles going back to 1953, although the early ones didn’t have a hybrid engine. And Prince George, the future King, made his first car journey home from hospital in his father’s Range Rover Vogue SE. This car was later auctioned for charity. PHOTOGRAPHY: YUI MOK / PA IMAGES, BRITISH MOTOR MUSEUM HERITAGE TRUST (4), PICTURE ALLIANCE 36

RIGHT XXXXXX 1972 | Trans-Americas expedition traverses the Darien Gap 1974 | Crosses the Sahara: 7,500 miles in 100 days 1977 | Wins class in 18,750-mile London-Sydney marathon 1979 | Wins class in Paris-Dakar, before overall win 1981 1981 | First participation in Camel Trophy in Sumatra 02 01 PHOTOGRAPHY: XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX 03 01 Charles Spencer ‘Spen’ King in his younger days 02 A model of the Range Rover Classic was exhibited at the Musée du Louvre in the early 1970s 03 Designer David Bache, the mastermind behind the Range Rover’s ‘floating roof’ 04 The first ‘Velar’ prototype 05 A Range Rover driven by French team Alain Génestier, Joseph Terbiaut and Jean Lemordant won its class in the 1979 Paris-Dakar Rally 04 05 European models shown. 37

 

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