Development on the new Range Rover started in 1995, and it went through several metamorphoses before management were completely happy with the direction it was going in….
Land Rover and BMW produced competing design proposals, and it was the British iteration of the concept that won through at the end of the day.
Former Rover director of design (who moved to Land Rover in 2000), Geoff Upex and lead designer Don Wyatt were responsible for how the new Range Rover should look. Both men saw the directive from BMW, that they should start with a clean sheet of paper (instead of basing it on the P38A) as a positive advantage, and embarked on their task with some relish.
Upex and Wyatt invited a variety of designers to submit proposals for how they thought a new Range should look. As well as the Land Rover styling department, BMW and DRA (Design Research Associates) were asked for ideas. This sketch by Phil Simmons not only drew on the original Range Rover as an inspiration, but also the Riva Speedboat (flanks, proportions).
Two studies that were passed over in the search for the new Range Rover. On the left, the DRA proposal was daring amd quite sporting, but not in-theme enough to be taken further. On the right, a radical frontal treatment for the Range Rover was drawn up… it would appear that elements of the flanks, especially around the rear wheelarches, did make it onto the production version.
Phil Simmons’ concept in clay – a thirty per cent model of the design sketch depicted at the top of the page. This was easily the most popular of the 12 models that were submitted to management, and this can easily be identified as the first step in the process that led to the 2001 Range Rover.
August 1997, and four full-size models are presented to management: the left two were produced by BMW, overseen by Chris Bangle. The two on the right are by Land Rover, and it is Simmons’ version (second from right) that attracts the most favourable comments from Wolfgang Reitzle. Unsurprisingly, the Simmonds proposal is also favoured by the Land Rover board, but the design is not signed off at this point, as Reitzle felt that the competition should remain open a little longer. One of the German designs remained in the running, alongside the British proposal – Reitzle did not feel at that point in time, that the British design was quite there yet.
In the run-up to the final design competition, Land Rover worked with BMW and lightly revised Simmonds’ design as depicted in this sketch.
December 1997, and after a final viewing by Reitzle, it is this full-size model that is signed-off for production.
These interior sketches are actually taken from the aborted Discovery replacement, but they clearly show where the origins of the Range Rover’s interior lie.
Full size mock-up of the Range Rover interior shows that the luxury was added to the architectural theme investigated in the original “Discovery” sketches. The finished article was a triumph of design, and like Rolls-Royce’s designs, the Range Rover’s buttons were all operable by a gloved driver. Ford design boss, J Mays described the Range Rover interior as, “the best I have ever seen”.
All pictures courtesy of AUTOCAR magazine and used are used with permission