Friday, May 16, 2008

Land Rover 60th Birthday

The year is 2008 and Land Rover celebrates its 60th birthday party actually coinciding with the dusk of a glorious automotive manufacturing era and the dawn of a new one. I feel obliged here to pay a small tribute to the company's manufacturing history of producing its famous 4x4 vehicles.

I was right after the victorious end of World War II that Land Rover "borrowed" Rover's chief designer Maurice Wilks who kicked off straight away with designing vehicles inspired by the World War II Jeep. The first car spawned from this coalition came off the production line in 1948 and was baptized "Huey" actually based on Jeep's chassis.

Originally the term Land Rover was used to describe one specific vehicle, a revolutionary civilian all-terrain utility vehicle presented on April 30, 1948, at the Amsterdam Motor Show. Such was the popularity of the name that was later used as a brand for several distinct models, all four-wheel drive.

Many Land Rovers have been altered for a range of civilian an non purposes, with vivid examples being the Defender 6x6 model, frequently converted into a fire vehicle or the Series IIa used extensively as an ambulance. It is actually true that Land Rover still supplies vehicles to the Red Cross since 1954, the reason being that according to valid estimation about 70% of all Land Rover's produced are still in use in various activities. Maybe hard to believe, nevertheless, the Series I Land Rovers sent to Costa Rica to be utilized in coffee plantations in the 1950s are still in operation today.

So, going through Land Rover's history we admired the indestructible English-produced vehicles setting new automotive benchmarks throughout European narrow streets, to Latin America's plantation, armouring them up for Police use, fire fighting and hospital needs. That brings us to the present and the Detroit Auto Show in January 2008 where the astonishing futuristic LRX Concept car (right) was revealed. Nowadays Land Rover is reining no more but keeps on reporting loses cornering its parent Ford to sell it to the Indian conglomerate Tata in a £1.15bn ($2.3bn) deal.

What will the future of Land Rover be is difficult to say...


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