The Range Rover concept was drawn up in the mid-1960s to meet growing demand worldwide (and especially in the USA) for a recreational four-wheel-drive vehicle. Known during the early design stages as a Land Rover 100-inch Station Wagon, it was radically different from any previous Land Rover product. Key features (borrowed from Rover car practice) were long-travel coil-spring suspension and disc brakes, with the ex-Buick V8 engine. In addition, the body construction method of unstressed panels bolted to a strong steel skeleton came from the Rover P6 saloons – although the Range Rover retained a separate chassis and the cars did not. Permanent four-wheel drive (with a centre differential) was a new departure and was a crucial element in producing a vehicle with a then-unmatched combination of off-road and on-road abilities. Demand was enormous, and there were waiting lists for Range Rovers throughout the 1970s. However, as cash was scarce (British Leyland faced bankruptcy in 1974 and was rescued by the British Government the following year), only minimal further development of the vehicle was undertaken in this period. All these early models had two-door bodies, the 3.5-litre V8 petrol engine with twin carburettors, and a four-speed manual gearbox. Very early examples had a limited-slip centre differential, but a vacuum lockable type soon took over. In early 1973, PAS and a rear wash-wipe were added, and from mid-1973, black vinyl covers were added to the rear quarter-panels. Mid-1976 brought higher gearing and a twin-pipe exhaust. Countless minor changes made in the Range Rover’s first decade included several to the engine tune. There were six paint colours available. The initial six were Bahama Gold, Davos White, Lincoln Green, Masai Red, Sahara Dust and Tuscan Blue; Arctic White replaced Davos White from October 1974. Standard upholstery was Palomino (beige) PVC, but a Bronze brushed nylon option from 1974 proved popular. Note that the Range Rover was also available in chassis-cab form for approved converters from 1971. Many had ambulance bodies on extended wheelbases of 110 or 135 inches, and many others were converted to three-axle configuration and bodied as airport crash tenders or fire engines. Some two-door models were also converted to four-door configuration, mainly for export territories. There were 77,480 Range Rovers built in this period, inclusive of CKD examples and conversions.
The second period of the Range Rover’s existence began in 1979, after new investment associated with the establishment of Land Rover Ltd in 1978 had enabled production to be stepped up to meet demand. This five-year period brought several key changes to the Range Rover and a multitude of minor ones. The most important were the 1981 introduction of a four-door body, which rapidly became the preferred option in most countries; the improved refinement that year which resulted from a lower-revving engine and taller gearing (again); the 1982 introduction of a three-speed automatic transmission option; and the 1983 arrival of a five-speed manual gearbox to replace the original four-speed. Other changes included black bumpers in place of silver and decal badges in place of plastic letters (1979); standardised PAS and quieter tyres (also 1979); and alloy wheel, electric windows and metallic paint options (1981). All these upgrades led in 1980 to the introduction of a low-specification Fleetline model, aimed at Police and other users who did not need the luxury improvements. Limited editions were used to introduce or promote some of the new features. There were In Vogue two-doors in early 1981, In Vogue Automatics in 1982, and In Vogues in 1983. A wider choice of paint options also characterised this period. There were eight from mid-1979, nine from mid-1980, eight again from mid-1982 and seven from mid-1983. Metallic finishes arrived during 1981 and gradually became more numerous. Bronze brushed nylon upholstery was standardised in mid-1979, but gave way to Bronze brushed velour the following year. As before, some Range Rovers built in this period were converted to fire tenders, ambulances, and for other specialist uses. It is not possible at present to give exact production figures for this five-year period. However, there were approximately 50,000 Range Rovers built between mid-1979 and mid-1984. From mid-1979, chassis numbers changed to the VIN system. Note, however, that a number of 1980-model vehicles with that year’s revised specifications were certainly built with old-style chassis numbers before the introduction of VINs.
The Range Rover Monteverdi was an aftermarket luxury conversion of the standard vehicle which was offered for sale through Land Rover dealers. It featured a four-door body, the option of leather upholstery, and a choice of non-standard paint colours which included metallic finishes. Demand for the conversion tailed off after Land Rover introduced its own four-door Range Rover, and Monteverdi production stopped in 1982. It is not clear exactly how many vehicles were converted by Monteverdi, a Swiss specialist company which actually sub-contracted the work to an Italian coachbuilder. The probable total of around 150 is included in the overall figures for Range Rover production given above. Characteristics of these models include an angled shut-line to the rear doors (the Solihull-designed four-doors have a vertical line) and – in most cases – Monteverdi badges. However, as the Monteverdi was essentially a bespoke conversion, it is likely that no two examples were exactly the same. It is not currently possible to give definitive chassis number listings for the Monteverdi Range Rovers. All started life as two-door models, and most were given a distinctive R code in their chassis numbers; a handful of very early vehicles, however, was built before the introduction of VINs and these do not have distinctive chassis numbers.
In the second half of the 1980s, the four-door Range Rover became the dominant model, and two-doors were relegated to special-order only from the start of the 1987 model-year in many countries, including the UK. This period also saw a series of specification improvements which moved the Range Rover gradually into the luxury car class. Many of these improvements were made primarily to give the model additional appeal in the USA, where it was introduced in March 1987 (see below). Key mechanical changes included the introduction of an injected 3.5-litre V8 engine. This was introduced on top models (such as the UK Vogue) in October 1985, standardised for some markets for the 1987 model-year, and then standardised in all markets (except North America) for the 1989 model-year. From April 1986,a diesel option was made available; models with this wore Turbo D badges. All manual gearboxes were five-speed LT77 types, the original long gear lever giving way to a short-stick type in October 1985. Automatic transmission gradually became more popular and was standardised on some models (such as the UK Vogue SE). The three-speed Chrysler automatic gearbox was replaced by a four-speed ZF type with overdrive top gear for the 1986 model-year. For 1989, the gear-driven transfer box was replaced by a chain-driven type built by Borg Warner. Suspension was improved for the 1986 model-year, with stiffer bushes at the front and dual-rate springs with forward-facing (rather than staggered) dampers at the rear. Major upgrades in specification were marked by the introduction of the Vogue as a regular production model for 1985, and by the arrival of the Vogue SE as the new top model from March 1988. Different model-names were used in other territories, such as High-Line (for the Australian Vogue) and Vogue SEi (in some European countries). Paint and trim options gradually widened. Upholstery was in bronze check until the end of the 1988 model-year, while top models (such as UK Vogues) had grey velour. Brown velour became an option on top models for 1987. Grey leather arrived for the Vogue SE in March 1988, after an earlier introduction on NAS models. For 1989, standard upholstery changed to grey or brown cloth, while the top models’ leather became grey or beige. There were nine paint options for 1985, ten for 1986 and 1987, 11 for 1988 and 12 for 1989. Metallics gradually increased in number and popularity, and for 1989 were supplemented by micatallics. Approximately 94,500 Range Rovers were built in the five model-years from June 1984 to October 1989.
Establishing the Range Rover in North America was a key business objective for Land Rover in the second half of the 1980s. The model was launched there in March 1987 as a four-door with the injected 3.5-litre V8 engine and automatic transmission. Over the next few years, specification improvements – such as the sunroof, power-adjustable leather seats and cruise control – were sometimes pioneered on the North American models and did not filter down to Range Rovers for other markets until some time later. Emission control requirements in the USA sapped the power of the injected 3.5-litre engine, so a larger-capacity 3.9-litre (3947cc) type was introduced for the 1989 season. However, this engine did not go on sale in other markets until a year later. A total of 10,038 Range Rovers were sold in the USA between 1987 and 1989; there were no deliveries to Canada in this period.
Four-door bodies were the worldwide standard in the Range Rover’s final years, although two-doors were sold in some markets until early 1994. There was also a UK limited-edition CSK two-door in late 1990. The 3.9-litre V8 with four-speed automatic transmission was the standard powertrain, although a five-speed manual gearbox was available. This was initially the LT77, then the LT77S from 1991 and the R380 from March 1994. For 1993, the 4.2-litre derivative of the V8 engine developed for the LSE model (see below) was offered in Middle Eastern markets; a few were also fitted to Range Rovers built under the “Autobiography” custom-building scheme introduced in 1993. Popular in Europe was the alternative diesel engine, initially a 2.5-litre derivative of the earlier 2.4-litre four-cylinder made by VM in Italy. For the 1993 and 1994 model-years, this was replaced by Land Rover’s own 200 Tdi engine, and 1995-1996 diesels had the later 300 Tdi type. No automatic option could be had on diesel Range Rovers before the 300 Tdi arrived. For the 1993 to 1996 model-years, the air suspension system developed for the LSE was standard on top-model Range Rovers and optional on others; however, it was not available with a diesel engine until the 300 Tdi was introduced. From March 1994 (when the 1995 model-year started), all Range Rovers had a redesigned dashboard with twin airbags, and a windscreen with blacked-out edges. When the second-generation Range Rover arrived in October 1994, the older model was renamed Range Rover Classic and carried special badges. Top model in most markets during this period was the Vogue SE, which always featured leather upholstery. Next down was the Vogue. Top US models were Countys (County SE for 1991 and County Classic for 1995). There were several limited editions for various markets, notably the 1996-model UK-market 25th Anniversary Edition which marked the end of production. Optional extras (standard on some models for some markets) included a heated windscreen, power-adjustable heated front seats, ABS, electric sunroof and anti-roll bars. A bodykit was available from mid-1993 and most 1994-1996 models had five-spoke alloy wheels. Few of these late first-generation Range Rovers became fire tenders, ambulances and the like because Land Rover stopped supplying chassis-cab versions, instead promoting the cheaper Discovery for this role. The Range Rover’s increasing cost also diminished its popularity with Police forces, although some did take Tdi-engined models. Approximately 134,000 Range Rovers of all types were made between mid-1989 and February 1996, when the last of 317,615 first-generation models was built.
By comparison with other luxury cars, the Range Rover lacked rear seat legroom, so Land Rover solved the problem by building a long-wheelbase version. An extra eight inches in the wheelbase gave real lounging room in the back, and the result was badged as a Vogue LSE in the UK, Vogue LSEi in some European markets, County LWB in North America and Range Rover Vanden Plas in Japan. Sales began in mid-1992 and lasted until early 1995; production stopped in late 1994 when the second-generation Range Rover came on-stream. The 108-inch chassis always had electronically-controlled air suspension, which reduced road noise transmission into the cabin and gave a softer ride. It could also raise the body to give extra clearance for the long wheelbase off-road, and would lower the body automatically at speed to improve handling and reduce drag. Also developed primarily for this model was a 4.2-litre version of the V8 engine, its extra power and torque being necessary to ensure that the flagship Range Rover was not slower than the cheaper models on the standard wheelbase. However, some markets (notably Australia and Switzerland) took 108-inch Range Rovers with the 3.9-litre engine to simplify type approval issues. The 108-inch model was always equipped to a very high standard. The 1995 models had the new dashboard with airbags, a bodykit and silver-finish wheels in place of the earlier body-coloured ones. In the USA, there was a special “25th Anniversary” edition in late 1994, based on the County LWB. These models are included in the overall Range Rover production figures given above.
Although now referred to commonly as the ‘P38A’ or the ‘P38’, the second generation Range Rover was officially known as the ‘38A’ with the ‘P’ coming from ‘Project’. It was designed to compete more effectively in the luxury-car market into which the first-generation models had gradually been pushed during the later 1980s and early 1990s. Design priorities were therefore biased towards refinement and ride quality, although the vehicle was also an excellent off-road performer. The Range Rover 38A was introduced in October 1994 but was initially sold alongside the first-generation models. Although the ladder-frame chassis was a new design, it shared its 108-inch wheelbase and electronically-controlled air suspension with the superseded long-wheelbase versions of the old model. The body had a steel inner shell and many of the outer panels were also made of steel to improve fit and finish, although bonnet, front wings and lower tailgate were of traditional Land Rover aluminium alloy. Styling retained some visual cues from the old model, but was blander overall and featured rectangular headlamps and large light clusters which impinged on the lower tailgate. All these Range Rovers had four doors, but the appearance was subtly altered over the years by a selection of styled alloy wheels, “masked” headlamps and smoked indicator lenses plus a body-coloured front spoiler for the 2000 and later model-years, and so on. Characteristic of these models was an array of sophisticated electronic equipment, intended to contribute to overall levels of luxury and refinement, but sometimes unreliable and widely mistrusted. Much of it had been specified mainly to meet expectations in the US market, where the vehicle sold strongly after its January 1995 launch. Twin airbags were always standard, and on the 1999 and later models were supplemented by side airbags at the front. There were two petrol engines, both derivatives of the long-serving ex-Buick V8. The so-called “4.0-litre” had the same capacity as the older 3.9-litre but had been further developed, while the top models had a 4.6-litre version. Both engines were modified for the 1999 season, mainly to improve high-speed acceleration. Diesel Range Rovers had a 2.5-litre six-cylinder intercooled turbocharged engine built by BMW. The early single-outlet exhaust systems were changed to dual-outlet exhausts for most markets in mid-1996, and for North America in mid-1998. All 1995 North American models had the 4.0-litre engine, the 4.6-litre becoming available for 1996. Most 38A Range Rovers had automatic transmission, with a version of the four-speed ZF gearbox already seen in earlier Range Rovers and Discoverys. However, the R380 five-speed manual was also offered (and was the only option on 1995-model diesels) except with the 4.6-litre engine. The two-range transfer gearbox always had electric range selection. Early examples had Electronic Traction Control on the rear axle only, but four-wheel ETC was introduced on 1999 models. Although cloth upholstery was available on entry-level models and to special order throughout the production run, leather-and-wood was the norm. From 1996, the Autobiography custom-building service from Land Rover Special Vehicles introduced a number of other luxury refinements such as satnav and TV and video systems, and many of these later featured on top models or limited editions. Towards the end of the production cycle, several limited edition models were introduced including the 4.6-litre Linley in 2000 – the most expensive Range Rover ever at £100,000 in the UK. Only six were produced. Unlike their predecessors, the second generation Range Rover was never made available for commercial or utility applications, although it did find favour as Police motorway patrol vehicles in the UK. A small number were custom-built, including two which were made as State Review models for the British Royal Family. There was never any CKD assembly of the 38A Range Rover, and all 167,041 examples were built at Solihull. The last one was built in December 2001.
The third-generation Range Rover was developed with major input from BMW, who owned Land Rover when the project began in 1996. Although the British company had been sold to Ford by the time the vehicle appeared on the market (and had acquired the project code L322), BMW agreed to complete their part of the project. The German company’s main aim of creating a luxury off-roader which could compete on a level playing field with other leading luxury cars was largely fulfilled.
Key elements of the L322 design were a monocoque five-door bodyshell with three separate sub-frames and all-round independent air suspension. The vehicle embodied the latest electronic traction and handling aids (new ones being BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control or DSC and Emergency Brake Assistance or EBA). It was also physically larger than the outgoing 38A model, with a wheelbase of 2880 mm or 113.4 inches, greater height and greater overall length.
This increased size allowed a larger and more opulent interior, with multiple airbags (some optional in certain markets), and the vehicle featured a striking new fascia design. This incorporated a multi-function wide-screen monitor. There were multiple choices for interior colour schemes, cloth or two types of leather seats, and three different types of wood trim.
All models came with ZF five-speed automatic gearboxes plus an electronically-operated two-speed transfer box with lockable centre differential. The engines were BMW types, the petrol option being the company’s established 4398 cc V8 and the diesel its recent 2926 cc six-cylinder, called the Td6 by Land Rover.
Body styling echoed that of earlier Range Rovers in details such as the castellated bonnet, but was distinguished by flat and relatively featureless flanks. In addition, round headlamps were integrated into strikingly styled rectangular lamp units, and the tail lights incorporated round lenses to suggest a family link with the Defender and Freelander.
The after-effects of Land Rover's sale to Ford in summer 2000 were a long time in coming, but the first of them was a switch to Jaguar petrol engines in the 2006-model Range Rovers. The BMW 3-litre diesel engine nevertheless remained available.
In place of the earlier 4.4-litre V8 came two engines, a 4.4-litre naturally aspirated V8 developed from the all-aluminium, four-valve 4.2-litre Jaguar saloon engine, and a high-performance supercharged 4.2-litre type. The new petrol engines came with six-speed ZF automatic gearboxes, but the diesel stayed with its GM five-speed type. All featured the CommandShift manual over-ride control, which had been known by its BMW name of Steptronic on the earlier models of these Range Rovers. As on the Range Rover Sport, supercharged models had a black Land Rover logo.
A year after the switch from BMW to Jaguar petrol engines, the BMW 3-litre diesel engine in the L322 models was also replaced, this time by the new 3.6-litre TDV8 diesel. With this came a six-speed automatic as the only transmission option, and at the same time Terrain Response was incorporated. The three-engine model range (V8 petrol, supercharged V8 petrol, and TDV8 diesel) remained available until the arrival of the 2010 models in June 2009, but during 2008 the naturally-aspirated petrol engine was deleted from the model-range in the UK and some other markets.
With the facelift and major equipment upgrade for the 2010 models came yet another new pair of engines. While the TDV8 remained unchanged, a 5.0-litre derivative of the Jaguar AJ-V8 (known as the LR-V8 in Land Rover guise) and a 5.0-litre supercharged derivative were introduced. Once again, the naturally-aspirated petrol engine was not available in the UK and certain other markets, but it formed the entry-level engine in the USA and elsewhere. There were uprated six-speed automatic transmissions with both the new petrol engines.
The TDV8 engine was then uprated to 4.4 litres in mid-2010 for the 2011 model-year, and an eight-speed ZF transmission became standard. Production ended in mid-2012 and the model was replaced by the fourth-generation (L405) Range Rover.
The Range Rover Sport, developed as Project L320, was based on a short-wheelbase (108-inch) version of the T5 chassis introduced for the Discovery 3. The model was designed to give Land Rover a competitor for high-performance road-oriented SUVs like the BMW X5, Mercedes ML and Porsche Cayenne, but it retained all the traditional Land Rover off-road abilities.
Despite the appearance of a two-door concept car "teaser" called the Range Stormer at the Detroit Show in January 2004, the Sport was only made as a four-door from its launch a year later. A notable feature was its top-hinged tailgate, with a hatch window which could be opened separately.
The Sport was offered with a choice of three engines – the same two Jaguar V8s as in the contemporary Range Rover, plus the TDV6 diesel introduced in the Discovery 3. Supercharged models had a black Land Rover oval badge. All gearboxes were six-speed automatics. The Terrain Response system previewed on the Discovery 3 was a standard feature, and the Sport had Active Roll Mitgation (a derivative of the Series II Discovery's ACE) and speed-proportional power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering to give it more sporty on-road handling.
The facelifted 2010-model Range Rover Sport shared the new 3.0-litre TDV6 engine and the 5.0-litre petrol V8 with the Discovery 4, plus the 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 available in Range Rover L322 models. Early examples were available with the 3.6-litre TDV8 diesel, but this was soon dropped from the options list.
The 2010 models had a redesigned front end with slimmer grille and lights incorporating LEDs, plus a range of new alloy wheels. There was also more luxurious interior with more supportive seats and a less cluttered facia. Suspension and braking improvements brought more sporty driving dynamics, and included a new Adaptive Dynamics system with predictive damper technology. The Terrain Response system had a new Dynamic setting that was unique to the Sport and tuned its systems to give a more sporty drive.
“Environmental” technologies included an Intelligent Power Management System with Smart Regenerative Charging, where the alternator charged the battery only when the vehicle was coasting, so reducing drag on the engine and therefore fuel consumption. Other fuel-saving changes included a torque converter with less slip, and taller overall gearing in the new 6HP 28 automatic gearbox.
The Range Rover Sport was used as the basis of a diesel hybrid Range_e model in 2010, built only to demonstrate future technologies and not as a production model. The last L420 was built in early 2013.
The Range Rover Evoque was previewed as a concept prototype in 2007, when it was introduced to the press as the Land Rover LRX. The two-door style was enthusiastically approved, and the concept was turned into a production model based on an extensively modified Freelander 2 platform. It was introduced in 2010 as a 2011 model, with both two-door and four-door body options. All models were built at the Halewood plant.
The Evoque pioneered a new design direction for Land Rover, one which was deliberately fashionable. There was an emphasis on personalisation, and to that end a wide variety of options could be had, based on three core equipment levels called Pure, Prestige and Dynamic. The diesel engine option was the same as ion the Freelander 2, with 150 PS or 190 PS, and with the lower-powered engine it was possible to specify two-wheel drive in the eD4 model. The four-wheel-drive diesel was a TD4 with 150 PS or an SD4 with 190 PS. The petrol engine was a new Ford four-cylinder turbocharged type with direct petrol injection, known as the Ecoboost, and it powered models badged as Si4. Automatic gearboxes had six speeds.
The fourth-generation or L405 Range Rover was the first Land Rover product to use the new all-aluminium Premium Lightweight Architecture developed in tandem with Jaguar. Using bonding in place of rivets and screws, the aluminium body and chassis components allowed a weight saving of around 39% as compared to the L322 Range Rover. The design combined familiar Range Rover cues with the more streamlined look introduced on the Range Rover Evoque. The wheelbase was 115in (2922mm), and interior space was improved with 118mm more legroom then the old model.
L405 had all-independent suspension with air springs controlled electronically to give a smooth ride. It also had a suite of chassis and driver assistance technologies, including Adaptive Damping to improve the handling, and Terrain Response 2 which was able to analyse ground conditions and select the appropriate settings automatically. The steering had electric power assistance.
The engine line-up consisted of two diesels (TDV6 and TDV8) and the supercharged V8, all driving through eight-speed ZF automatic gearboxes. From autumn 2013 there was also a diesel hybrid version, with the 3.0-litre TDV6 engine working in tandem with an electric motor to reduce emissions and fuel consumption while also increasing power and torque.
The second-generation Range Rover Sport shared much of its engineering with the L405 Range Rover, including the all-aluminium bodyshell structure and lightweight aluminium suspension. Shorter than L405, but with a longer wheelbase than the L420 model it replaced, the new model once again shared the Range Rover family design introduced with the Evoque. A pair of occasional rear seats could be ordered as an option.
There were three trim levels available at the start, called HSE, HSE Dynamic and Autobiography Dynamic. From early 2014, an SE trim was introduced for the TDV6 engine only. The first models came with the 3.0-litre SDV6 diesel or the supercharged petrol V8, and these were followed after some months by TDV6 and TDV8 derivatives. All variants came with a Stop-Start system, and from August 2013 there was also a diesel hybrid, using the same power train as the L405 equivalent. All gearboxes were eight-speed ZF automatics.
All L494 models came with permanent four-wheel drive, but there was a choice between a traditional two-speed transfer box or a single-speed transfer box with a torsen differential.