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Onelife 25

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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

AGE OF DISCOVERY 1986 |

AGE OF DISCOVERY 1986 | First clay models created for ‘Project Jay’ | Conran Design assists with distinctive interior 1989 | Sept 12: three-door Discovery launched in Frankfurt | 200TDi police version pulls a 178-ton train By the mid-1980s the Range Rover was moving further upmarket with its new four-door body, automatic transmission, and ever-more luxurious versions like the Vogue. A space began to open in the Land Rover line-up for a new model that could bridge the gap between the more utilitarian Defender and the premium Range Rover. The new vehicle would need to offer all the off-road ability of both its siblings, but it would major on versatility, with fine on-road manners and a flexible, seven-seat interior. It would help Land Rover grow, and crucially it would further shift the balance of its portfolio from vehicles customers needed, to those they desired. Work on ‘Project Jay,’ as it was initially codenamed, began in 1986 with the first clay models being sculpted that year. “ The Land Rover Discovery was developed in a time short enough to break industry records. It was an immediate and massive success, receiving critical acclaim from expert journalists worldwide and claiming for Land Rover the lion’s share of a market in which the company had not been represented previously” JAMES TAYLOR, AUTHOR, ‘LAND ROVER DISCOVERY’ To reduce cost and development time and to produce the required refinement, the new vehicle used some of the Range Rover vehicle’s chassis and shared its 100-inch wheelbase. But Project Jay would be different. Clever design would help differentiate it from the similarly sized Range Rover, and the visual treatment arrived at in the Land Rover design studio was so successful that elements of it, such as the instantly recognizable asymmetric rear end, are still there on the latest version. STRONG DEMAND The Discovery, as Project Jay was later officially named, was first revealed to the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 12, 1989. That this was a true Land Rover was immediately proven on the car‘s media launch in Scotland, when a police-liveried 200TDi four-cylinder diesel version hauled a 178-ton train. The following year the Discovery made its Camel Trophy debut in Siberia, and it became the vehicle most associated with that famous ‘Sandglow’ paint. Once again, demand for the Land Rover vehicle was greater then expected, and in 1993 it announced that a third shift would be added at Solihull to cope with demand. The following year, it made its debut in the USA with a V8 gas engine. By 1998, an astonishing 348,621 Discovery vehicles had found homes around the world. DISCO-TECH Land Rover returned to the Frankfurt Motor Show nine years after the launch of the original Discovery to reveal the second-generation vehicle. Although visually similar to the original (the design didn‘t need to change much), the Discovery Series II shared just one exterior panel with its predecessor and DISTINCTIVE INTERIOR From the outset, Land Rover was determined to give the Discovery a strong identity of its own, very different to the Range Rover with which it shared its underpinnings. So the Conran Group, led by British design guru Sir Terence Conran, was called in and asked to produce a cabin unlike any other. They more than met that brief with a design that incorporated novel ideas like a removable bag instead of a central storage box, although the sunglasses holder that they proposed for the center of the steering wheel didn‘t make production. The piercing Sonar Blue cabin color scheme might be a bit bright for modern tastes, but it looked great in period and was good enough to win a British Design Award. The Discovery was launched as a three-door (the five-door version would follow a year later) to further differentiate it from its more premium stablemate. It featured striking side graphics and basic pressed steel wheels, which definitely wouldn’t have suited a Range Rover. These were later replaced with alloy wheels. PHOTOGRAPHY: POPPERTOTO/GETTY IMAGES (1) 52

RIGHT XXXXXX 1990 | Five-door version launched | 200TDi three-door joins Camel Trophy in Siberia | ‘Floating’ Discovery built for Cowes Week 1997 | Air-sprung self-levelling suspension introduced on Discovery 2 01 01 Launched at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Discovery 1 (top) was followed by its successor, the Discovery 2 (bottom), in the Fall of 1998 02 Showing its pulling power by towing a train, the Discovery would quickly become a popular tow vehicle 03 Sir Ranulph Fiennes at the wheel of a Discovery during his expedition in 1991 to locate the fabled lost city of Ubar European models shown. 02 03 PHOTOGRAPHY: XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX 03 53

 

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