Home > Auto > Cars > 50 years of Range Rover's journey: A story of all-terrain innovation

All cars get old. But only a few get glamorous with age. When the first Range Rover SUV was showcased in Louvre, Paris, it was seen as one of the finest examples of automotive engineering. Following the launch of the Range Rover SUVs, several other carmakers tried their hands at manufacturing 4X4 vehicles. But till date, Range Rover remains the ‘original 4X4 luxury SUV’ to the world.

As a birthday present for this iconic SUV, Land Rover has decided to prepare a limited edition of the current model with the name Fifty.

Over its 50 year lifespan, the Range Rover has achieved many world firsts and completed numerous impressive feats. It was the first SUV to feature a permanent 4WD system when it was launched, and in 1989 was the world's first 4x4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes. Later in 1992 it became the world's first 4x4 to be fitted with electronic traction control (ETC) and automatic electronic air suspension – ensuring the refined driving feel Range Rover is so famous for, both on and off-road. In 2012, the latest generation Range Rover became the world’s first SUV to feature an all-aluminium lightweight construction, making it lighter, stronger and more efficient.


It has crossed the notoriously impassable ‘Darien Gap,’ was the first vehicle to ever be displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, and has even won the Paris-Dakar rally – twice. No other vehicle combines the levels of luxury, comfort and sophistication with off-road capability and on-road performance like Range Rover.

With its clamshell bonnet, distinctive floating roof, split tailgate and trademark front fender vents, the Range Rover of today can still trace its roots back to the 1970 original. In its golden anniversary year it is now the most efficient, connected, luxurious and capable yet.

The story of Range Rover goes back to the mid 1960s. In a bid to revolutionise the growing 4x4 leisure market, the Rover car company's engineering chief for new vehicle projects, Charles Spencer 'Spen' King (nephew of the founders of Land Rover), hatched a plan to combine the comfort and on-road ability of a Rover saloon with the off-road ability of a Land Rover.

Photo of the 1970 Range Rover in Tuscan Blue.
Photo of the 1970 Range Rover in Tuscan Blue.

Development of the first 100-inch station wagon prototype began during the late 1960s, with the first model being released to the world’s media to critical acclaim in 1970. Its blend of ability – motorway cruising, off-roading, and even towing in style and comfort – ensured its instant popularity. The original Classic model was cited as an 'exemplary work of industrial design' when it became the first vehicle to be displayed at the world famous Louvre Museum in Paris in 1971.

The first generation Range Rover (1970-1996) was originally only available as a two door when it went on sale in 1970. During its 26 year lifespan the Classic continued to evolve with the introduction of the four-door model in 1981 and an automatic gearbox in 1982. The first diesel Range Rover arrived in 1986.

The second generation Range Rover known as the P38A arrived in 1994 and was instantly recognisable thanks to its familiar silhouette, floating roof, clamshell bonnet, practical split tailgate and continuous waistline; all of which continue to this day. The vehicle also displayed an even more luxurious interior without compromising on its on-road ability and off-road capability. It also featured enhanced height-adjustable suspension as well as a 2.5-litre diesel and 3.9 and 4.6-litre versions of the V8 petrol, providing greater performance than ever before.

The 1971 Range Rover Classic in Morocco.
The 1971 Range Rover Classic in Morocco.


The third generation Range Rover (2001-2012) delivered a wealth of improvements on all predecessors during its 11 year period. Engineering innovations included a stiffer monocoque body (replacing the traditional 4x4 ladder frame) and fully independent suspension with interconnected air springs (at the time nearly all 4x4s had rigid axles). The interiors of these vehicles were inspired by high-end yachts, fine furniture and first class airline seats, providing more space and luxury.

In 2012, the fourth generation and most recent Range Rover debuted. It was the first SUV to feature lightweight all-aluminium construction, saving 420kg in weight compared to its predecessor. Featuring a wealth of new off-road innovations such as automatic Terrain Response™ 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control, it has evolved to include efficient new electrified Ingenium engines, a plug-in hybrid electric version and innovative infotainment and safety technologies.

For the last five years the Range Rover SVAutobiography has been at the pinnacle of the model line-up, with the most powerful and refined vehicles in Range Rover’s history. Produced by Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations division, customers can also choose from the Range Rover SVAutobiography and SVAutobiography Dynamic – which feature powerful V8 engines and finely crafted cabins.

Close