In terms of longevity, Land Rover is one of the most successful car manufacturers in the world. Having made four-wheel-drive vehicles for decades, Land Rover has become a British icon. The company has a diverse portfolio of civilian and military vehicles, ranging from the Series I to the 101 Forward Control. Land Rover has a number of unique stories surrounding it, so we’ve included five interesting facts you might not have known.
Land Rovers came before Land Rover
The design for the first Land Rover began in 1947, thanks to Maurice Wilks. He was the chief designer of the Rover Company and the car was probably influenced by the Jeep. The car was presented as an agricultural vehicle and it wasn’t until 1978 that Land Rover was founded as a company.
The first Land Rover had a steering wheel in the middle
As the first model was inspired by WW2 era Jeeps, it shared similar characteristics. Wilks lived on a farm in Wales, so an agricultural approach required a simple layout. This took the form of a tractor-like design that featured a steering wheel in the middle. Rover were able to get around the nuisance of developing two different versions for left and right-hand drive markets.
The company bankrolled student expeditions
What started out as a bet between students Adrian Cowell and David Waters in a Hong Kong bar turned into a full blown adventure. In 1956, Land Rover provided vehicles for Oxbridge students to drive from London to Singapore. The event became known as the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition that involved teams competing against the clock.
From Land Rover’s perspective it was a great PR opportunity and a chance to road test the vehicles. Two Series 1 Station Wagons were provided, one painted blue for Cambridge, the other a darker colour for Oxford.
Tank track Land Rovers are a thing
Designed by a Scotsman called James A Cuthbertson, this particular Land Rover was created to navigate the Scottish Highlands. Instead of traditional tyres, the car came with four sets of tank tracks that gave it major ground clearance. This allowed it to move over rough terrain with ease. Eventually, the Cuthbertson version became a factory option in the late 1950s.
Land Rover invented the first monster truck
When the British Forestry Commission required a vehicle that could navigate a marshy environment, Land Rover answered with another innovative design. The result was a 1950s car that had large tractor tyres and souped-up axles. There’s an argument to be made that Land Rover developed the first monster truck 30 years before the design became popular in America.
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