Whitley, West Midlands - Seventy years ago, on 30 April 1948, a short-coupled, pretty basic agricultural workhorse made its debut at the Amsterdam motor show, and a global icon was born.
And last night Jaguar Land Rover celebrated seven decades of the world’s favourite 4 x 4 x far with an online broadcast starring the cars and the people who love them, across 70 years of adventure, soldiering, humanitarian aid and just plain hard work around the world.
The programme shows how the Land Rover was designed - basically as a tractor with a central driving position and a rudimentary aluminium body - and went on to found a dynasty of beetle-crushers, seven million strong and counting.
It features footage of the people behind the legend and the groundbreaking (sometimes literally!) models of the early years, together with a parade of surviving classic Land Rovers, including HUE 166, the first series production Land Rover, the original two-door Range Rover and the first seven-seater Discovery, as well as some of the ‘expedition’ specials that made the Defender a movie star in the days when tobacco advertising was still legal.
Also on stage at the Land Rover Classic workshop in Coventry is one very special example: since January 2018 the Classic workshop team has been busy renovating one of the original three unrestored pre-production Amsterdam show cars from 1948.
It makes its first public appearance in many years on this show, alongside its closest current derivative - the 298kW Defender Works V8, of which just 150 will be handbuilt in the Land Rover Classic shop.
LAND ROVER TIMELINE
1953 Long Wheelbase version of the Series I introduced
1956 Oxford and Cambridge teams complete London to Singapore expedition
1958 Land Rover Series II released
1971 Land Rover Series III launched
1972 Range Rover crosses Darien Gap on 30 000km Trans-America expedition
1976 One millionth Land Rover built
1979 A Range Rover wins the inaugural Paris-Dakar rally (and again in 1981)
1981 Land Rover begins partnership with Camel Trophy
1981 Four-door Range Rover released
1989 Discovery - the third Land Rover model - goes on sale
1990 Original ‘Landie’ relaunched and renamed Defender
1994 Second generation Range Rover launched
1997 Freelander is unveiled with Hill Descent Control
2001 Third-generation Range Rover with all-round independent air suspension revealed
2003 Inaugural G4 challenge sees 16 teams cross the United States, South Africa and Australia