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Roll out the red carpet, suit up and raise a glass of champers, the mighty Range Rover turns 50 today. That’s right, 17th of June 1970 saw the first ever Range Rover turn a wheel and offer something, which was then, completely unique for a four wheel drive off roader.
The story of the “original” luxury SUV goes something like this. During the mid-sixties, there was a growing demand for a more refined and user friendly off roading experience with new car buyers. Seeing this emerging trend, Rover cars Engineering Chief of New Vehicle Projects, Charles Spencer King, was keen to give buyers all the off-road prowess of a Land Rover, but with the refinement and luxurious ambience of a Rover saloon.
Needless to say, the work of King and his team was a renowned success. In 1971, the Range Rover even featured in the iconic Louvre Art Museum in Paris. Over its half century, the Range Rover kicked off a number of design and engineering firsts for an SUV.
These included being the first SUV to use a permanent four-wheel drive system, the first SUV to be fitted with ABS brakes, the first four-wheel drive to have traction control, and the newest Range Rover was the first SV to feature an all-aluminium body.
With multiple wins in the Dakar Rally, and the long ever-growing list of famous owners, the old British luxury shire horse of a four-wheel drive shows no signs of slowing down. Plus, the originals are rapidly attaining classic status.
By Ben Selby