Range Rover turns 45

Range Rover

Fashion can be something of a roller coaster. There are styles we remember fondly, and others … well maybe best forgotten. Fashion from the 1970s occupies the latter category. Tasteless patterns, bell-bottomed trousers, cable-knits and tank tops are hardly the kind of clothing for fond recollection. And as for those handlebar moustaches that were popular for men …

Something good came out of that era though. It made its debut in the summer of 1970 in Cornwall, where it wowed journalists on the press launch, and it went on to wow the world. It was hunky, chunky and very British. Yes, the Range Rover was probably one of the very best things to emerge from that time. What an icon of automotive brilliance it has become.

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This year the Range Rover is celebrating its 45th anniversary. Now in its fourth generation, the highly capable four-wheel-drive car has spawned a family of models, with the Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover Evoque alongside the current luxury all-terrain limo with its clamshell bonnet and ‘command’ driving position.

Range Rover

The original Range Rover, now known as the Classic, was the second model to be launched by Land Rover, following the brilliant but rustic 1948-launched vehicle that would later become known as the Defender. Two men were key figures in the Range Rover’s design, top Rover engineer Spen King, and talented designer David Bache.

Over the years the Range Rover has morphed from the iconic original into a much more luxurious car that is upper-crust enough to be the first vehicle for new royal babies to travel in. Both Prince William and Princess Charlotte were whisked away from the London hospital where they were born in the comfort and safety of a Range Rover.

In celebration of the Range Rover’s anniversary, a hyper-luxury version has gone on sale this summer: the SV Autobiography developed by Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations. It has an atlas mesh front grille, duo-tone paintwork and an interior clad in fine leather and crafted wood veneers, a 29-speaker sound system and electrically operated tables for the rear seat passengers. You might need a lottery win for the six-figure price!

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Sue Baker is a seasoned motoring journalist with a love of all things automotive.