Is the In Vogue edition the progenitor of all posh Range Rovers? Of course not, but this was the first factory effort – and the beginning of a long road towards the super-expensive Range Rovers of today.
Thanks to Andrew Elphick, Declan Berridge and Kev Mills.
Despite being in the grip of a biting recession, the late 1970s were a glorious time for any company offering bespoke conversions of Range Rovers for well-heeled customers. If you had the money, it was possible to buy long-wheelbase models, five-door conversions and even open-topped versions if you were very brave. Land Rover had been unable to capitalise on this phenomenon due to budgetary constraints, and could only watch helplessly as companies such as Wood & Pickett cleaned up.
However, the situation would change following the re-organization of BL, and the degree of autonomy that came with it. The first faltering steps towards the posh Range Rovers we all know and love today came at the end of 1980. Land Rover collaborated with Wood & Pickett to design a specially-equipped luxury two-door model – a toe-in-the-water exercise to gauge demand for an upward expansion of the model.
The prototype Vogue emerges
The prototype (HAC 414W) was rapidly completed, and was then lent to Vogue magazine, who took it to Biarritz and used it as the backdrop in photographs of the 1981 Lancôme and Jaeger fashion collections in Biarritz. Response from potential customers was massive – as well as a total surprise; they spotted the bespoke vehicle in the magazine, and wanted to know when they could get their hands on their own examples…
Management was switched on, of course, and was already prepared to fire up the production lines as soon as the order books were opened. The In Vogue went on sale in February 1981. A limited run of 1000 was produced all of which were almost replicas of the photo shoot car, minus the special alloy wheels, but with the same coachwork, colour, uprated interior.
The model was such a success, that the 1981 run of 1000 Vogue Blue In Vogue models was followed up the following year with an unknown quantity of automatic In Vogue models, available in Nevada Gold or Sierra Silver. In 1983, 325 four-door In Vogue models were released in Derwent Blue, and were promoted in conjunction with the Daks autumn fashion collection at Simpson’s of Piccadilly.
They had several differences from the prototype: standard wheels instead of the three-spoke alloys (although these would become a Range Rover option later in 1981); a different style of coachline along the body sides; and they may also have been a slightly different colour. Incidentally, the light metallic blue paint and broad two-tone grey coachline chosen for production were both also seen during 1981 on some versions of the then-new Austin Mini Metro.
The full list of extra In Vogue features is given as:
- Light blue metallic (Vogue Blue) paint with broad twin coachlines in two-tone grey
- High-compression (9.35:1) engine
- Transfer box with taller (0.996:1) high ratio
- Air conditioning
- Polished wooden door cappings
- Stowage box between front seats
- Map pockets on back of front seats
- Fully carpeted load area
- Carpet material for spare wheel cover and tool kit curtain
- Picnic hamper in rear loadspace
- Stainless steel tailgate capping
- Black centre caps for the wheels
The regular production Vogue models were launched in June 1984, and remained as range toppers for quite some time to come. The age of the uber-SUV had well and truly arrived…
Finished in the model specific Vogue Blue, at least 250 examples were made available for the UK, all with one twee extra: a matching picnic hamper – ideal for a picnic at the polo club, or for hunting with the game keeper!
Pictures: Andrew Elphick and Declan Berridge