Land Rovers. We all love them. Don’t we? Well, I know I do. There is something uniquely British about them: tough, rugged, briliant at their job, they wear their “Britishness” in the the same way that an FX4, Mini or E-Type does. The only mud-plugger with enough kudos to do the Kensington school run and enough ability for farmers to pull stumps from the muddiest quagmires is a Land Rover…
I often wondered what would happen to the company once it became part of Uncle Henry’s empire. I had concerns that Freelander and the Maverick II were too close in style/price and ability for both to have a long term future, whilst there were feelings of dread over what the Americans would make of the sublime Range Rover. After all, it is the land that brought you the Hummer and the concept of the “pimped-up wagon”.
America is the Land that brought you
the Hummer and the concept of the
My feelings of unease were allayed though, when it became clear that all future Land Rover designs would be penned at Gaydon, and that the designers principally in charge of the company’s stylistic future were David Saddington (designer of the R3 and the stillborn R6X), Richard Woolley (Rover 75, 600, 400) under the leadership of well known ex-Rover man Geoff Upex.
Meanwhile, Freelander designer Gerry McGovern left Rover in the late-1990s for Ford, and was given the task of re-invigorating the Lincoln brand. When September 11th put paid to this plan, Gerry returned to the UK to head up Ingeni design, before moving to Land Rover earlier this year.
This formidable design team’s legacy lives on (thanks to longer-than-anticipated production runs) in today’s Rover 25, 45, 75 and MG TF, and if anyone had any doubt that Land Rover’s direction was the right one, they need look no further than Richard Woolley’s Range Stormer concept, unveiled at the beginning of 2004.
So, Land Rover’s design future would appear to be in safe hands. Production is less clear cut, thanks to Ford raising concerns over the long term viability of the Solihull plant. Echoes of Bernd Pischetsrieder‘s “inspired” idea to torpedo the launch of the 75 by questioning Longbridge’s long-term plans, seem to have emerged in Ford’s concerns over Solihull. Still, as long as McGovern, Upex, Saddington and Woolley have a say in their looks, they will continue to have blue-chip British DNA.
So should austin-rover.co.uk continue to cover Land Rover’s development, despite Ford’s ownership? let us know what you think…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.