The Range Rover celebrates its 40th birthday today.
One of the most significant vehicles in the history of motoring, the Range Rover was the world's first vehicle as good on the road as off it. It was the first fully capable luxury 4x4 and was a milestone in the development of the sport utility vehicle.
"Land Rover has a unique history of product innovation. But the Range Rover probably remains the most historically significant vehicle we have ever launched,” says Phil Popham, Land Rover managing director. “It is one of the most important vehicles in the history of motoring."
There have been three generations of Range Rover. The original, now known as the Classic, went on sale in 1970 and continued in production with numerous upgrades and a multiplicity of variants for more than 25 years.
The second-generation vehicle, known as the P38a, went on sale in 1994 and was replaced in 2001 by the current model.
The continuing success of the Range Rover ensured other premium makers jumped into the booming luxury SUV market. The latest version has enjoyed higher annual sales than any previous models and continues to be popular around the world, remaining the ultimate choice for the luxury SUV customer.
"The Range Rover is really four vehicles in one," says Popham. "It's a seven-days-a-week luxury motor car; a leisure vehicle that will range far and wide; a high performance car for long distance travel; and a working cross-country vehicle."
From princes to politicians, from rock gods to rock climbers, from footballers to farmers, the Range Rover has always appealed to a diverse group of customers.
A second model line, the Range Rover Sport, was launched in 2005, aimed at more sports-oriented driver-focused customers. It has been a great success, and in 2007 was Land Rover's biggest selling vehicle worldwide.
Later this year, a further member of the Range Rover family will be added, taking the portfolio to three model lines. The new vehicle will be smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient, tying in perfectly with the Range Rover brand's commitment to environmental sustainability. Yet it will be no less premium, no less luxurious, and no less special than the other Range Rover models.