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Land Rover

Land Rover was the name of one of the first civilian all-terrain utility vehicles, first produced by Rover[?] in 1947. Eventually, the Land Rover division was split off from Rover, and produced an expanding range of four-wheel-drive vehicles under a succession of owners, including Leyland[?], British Aerospace, BMW, and, from 2000, Ford. Land Rovers are manufactured in Solihull[?], England (near Birmingham) and exported around the world.

The first Land Rover was designed in 1947 by Maurice Wilkes as a farm vehicle, based on Jeep Willys he had seen in action in World War II. Then and since, their most distinctive feature has been their bodies, constructed of a lightweight proprietary alloy of aluminium and magnesium called Birmabright (being rustproof, this contributes to the vehicle's longevity); most feature sturdy ladder-frame chassis. The vehicles are designed (or some would say feature brilliant lack of design) to allow them to be field-serviced. For instance, ads for Rovers have bragged about vehicles driven thousands of miles on banana oil.

Land Rovers, particularly the commercial and military models, became ubiquitous throughout rural areas and the developing world, at least partly because of their mechanical indestructibility (which was matched, some say, by the legendary unreliability of British-made electrical components). According to some estimates, 80% of all Land Rovers manufactured (since 1947) are still in use; and Land Rover was once said to have been the first vehicle seen by some 20% of the world's population. The Land Rover featured in The Gods Must Be Crazy ("The Antichrist") illustrates the love-hate relationship many owners feel with the early series vehicles.

Rhinos are often associated with Land Rovers (both of which are quite common in Africa) - specifically Rovers being "charged" or attacked by rhinos. It is said that rhinos charge Rovers, not because they're angry, but because they're trying to mate (This may be apocryphal, although the vehicles are nearly the right size, and Rhinos have very bad eyesight)!

Land Rovers are popular in the Paris Dakar Rally as well as the vehicle used for the Camel Trophy[?]. They are also used by military forces worldwide.

In the United States, Land Rovers have a reputation as overpriced "yuppie" toys, since most are never used off-road; however there are also enthusiasts and clubs that take the vehicle to its limits.

Models

  • Series/Defender is the original Land Rover. These flat-sided, simply constructed vehicles are classified by wheelbase - 87", 88", 90", 101", 107", 109", 110", 127", and 130"; as well as the forward control model 101". Four wheel drive is engaged via a control lever, a reduction gearbox allows negotiation of very steep hills, and the front and rear suspension is via leaf sprung[?] beam axles[?]. Series designate major model changes: Series I, II, IIA, III, and Defender. The Defender model, until 1990 just named Land Rover 90, 110 or 127 depending on wheelbase, used the improved drivetrain, suspension and chassis of the previous model of Range Rover.
  • Range Rover is the more upscale model, considered one of the top-of-the-line utility vehicles, and still extremely capable off-road. Introduced in 1970. Improvents compared to the "series" model include constant four-wheel-drive through a lockable centre differential, all-coil suspension, disc brakes on all wheels, and a 3.5 litre aluminum V8 engine. It was introduced to the US in 1987, where it is known as a SUV (sports utility vehicles). The second phase shape ran from 1994, still with Rover V8 engines. An all-new model in 2002 saw the model move further up-market. Range Rovers now come with BMW V8 petrol and 6-cylinder diesel engines (a legacy of Land Rover being owned by that company until sold to Ford).
  • Discovery is the most popular model of Land Rover; introduced in the mid-1980s. It is not as utilitarian as the Defender; but again, very competent off-road.
  • Freelander is a newly introduced (1998 UK/2002 US) "mini" model to compete with the Toyota RAV4 and similar vehicles, where emphasis on off-road capabilities have been toned down.

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