The original Range Rover was used to win the inaugural 1979 Paris-Dakar Rally.
The original Range Rover wasn’t designed for luxury with few comforts added to the interior. The car came about from an experiment to design a larger model than the Land Rover but this was shelved in 1958. In 1966 the project was revived and by 1967, Spen King and Gordon Bashford had the prototype built.
The official launch was in 1970 and shortly after the Range Rover was exhibited at the Louvre, in Paris, as an “exemplary work of industrial design.” The original car was made with vinyl seats and plastic dashboards so that you could hose it down. Power steering, carpets, air-con, leather/cloth seats, and wooden trim were only added later. The Range Rover was only available in 2-door until 1981.
Coil springs were fitted, four-wheel drive was permanent and the heavy lifting was done by a Rover V8 engine. The diesel project was codenamed project Beaver during which 12 world records broken, including the fastest diesel SUV (160km/h) and furthest travelled in an SUV in 24 hours.
The body had the appearance of a large, box-shaped wagon. A wagon, however, that could do anything and go anywhere. You get the feeling that there is a lot of glass, because there is, almost as if a modern architect designed it. There is a no-fuss interior where what you see is what you get, literally. There is a special quality to simple yet comfortable transit. There are still original Range Rovers in use four decades later. In 2009 a 4.4-litre Jaguar engine and in 2010 an updated first “modern feeling” electric system from Jaguar.
The Range Rover with chassis no. 1 was a green model and is now on exhibition at Huddersfield Land Rover Centre, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.