Freelander underwent a rather convoluted development programme; it started out as a joint Rover Cars/Land Rover project to produce a vehicle to compete in the emerging “crossover” market, as epitomised by the Suzuki Vitara…
The initial projects crystallised into the Rover Oden and Land Rover Pathfinder. It was the latter that survived into maturity, and once the project was sanctioned by management, in the mid-1990s, it was renamed CB40.
Oden and Pathfinder
Pathfinder (left) and Oden (right)
As can be seen, the Land Rover Pathfinder was the more "rugged" of the two designs, and it was this that went on to become the CB40. The Rover Oden had potential as a "school run special", and its lack of a four-wheel-drive transmission system would not have been a disadvantage, give the market it was aimed at. Consider it a latter-day Matra-Rancho.
Land Rover Pathfinder
Three- and five-door schemes: many of the final styling elements were in place as early as 1992, when these models were displayed at Canley's viewing area. Note the front bumper treatment of the five-door, and the rear windows on the three-door; items that made it into production with little modification.
Testing frontal arrangements with a double-sided clay model.
Gerry McGovern was drafted in to oversee the final styling of CB40, and his influences can be seen in the way that this design possesses more solidity than the earlier models, yet manages to look good as well. Only small details would change between these models and the production version. Interestingly, one of these changes was made by Bernd Pischetsrieder when he first viewed the model in 1994.
Wierd and wacky perhaps, with a touch of Judge Dredd, but there are elements of the Freelander contained within; especially in the yellow car...
Pictures taken from “Meet the ancestors” by James Taylor, Land Rover Enthusiast magazine and AUTOCAR magazine.