Specials : Range Rover In Vogue (1981)

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.

Range Rover In Vogue: pretty posh…

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 reorganisation 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 and 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.

Production differences

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 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 !
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

Keith Adams
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  1. I have range rover two doors 1981 model converted to semi military vechicle. IN 2010 I was driving from cape town to spain in 3 weeks time. Alone travel with no suport. West side of african continent. Sahara desert I took in 4 days with manual compas navigation. What I had to do is just change engine oil as I made in total more than 21000 km heading to North Norway.

    Grate honor and respect to the designers enginering masters of Range Rover 1981.

  2. How did BL (and subsequent owners of the Land Rover marque) get away with using Vogue as a trim/model name? Rootes/Chrysler were still selling Singer (later Sunbeam) Vogues just 10 years previously in the early 70s. Did they fail to secure continued rights of the Vogue name amidst their troubles and the PSA takeover? I seem to recall the Humber marque isn’t owned by PSA either. Perhaps they never had full ownership of all the Rootes brands in the first place? Either way it’s been a successful appropriation of the name as JLR are shifting plenty of Vogue-branded models to this day.

    • Could be also asked about the use of Toledo on a SEAT after Triumph had used it. Maybe they were not registered names.

      • I think Seat asked ARG to use it, and presumably were given permission as it was unlikely that ARG would need the name again!

  3. I don’t know what happened about the Vogue moniker for the Range Rover, but, assuming that Chrysler/Rootes had maintained ownership, it is entirely possible that the name was sold (or even bartered).
    Such was the case in the 1980s, when the grand old Rover model name ‘Meteor’ – used on cars in the early 1930s, (and, coincidentally, for at least two of the Rover factories over the years, and the Rolls-Royce Merlin-based V12 tank engine made by Rover) was bartered with Ford – Ford gave it to their then Mazda subsidiary for an Australian market car, while BL were able to use a Ford patent for a glass sunroof. Nothing is sacrosanct in business…

    • Assets in the form of intellectual property can be traded like any other assets. Montego was a Ford mark (Mercury Montego) before Sir Michael Edwardes persuaded Henry Ford II to let him use it on an Austin. Land Rover filed Vogue as a trade mark for cars in 1988; I can find no trace of the earlier Singer mark, even if they had one. It would have had quite a few owners – Singer, Rootes, Chrysler, Talbot, Peugeot – and was used in some markets on Humber-badged cars.

  4. Range Rover Vogue is fine

    Range Rover IN Vogue does sound faintly ridiculous though, especially for 1981!

  5. The Range Rover had the market to itself in the seventies, no one else in Europe produced such a car, but by the eighties the Japanese had appeared and were offering well equipped, cheaper and more economical alternatives to the V8 Range Rover. For all the original Range Rover had pretentions of being a luxury alternative to a Land Rover, it was fairly basic, with cloth seats only becoming standard by the late seventies, and expensive for what it was. No wonder this luxury version appeared and Austin Rover made improvements the following year that were badly overdue such as an automatic option and replacing the elderly four speed manual with a five speed that cut engine noise and fuel consumption.

  6. The Range Rover may have had it’s inspiration from the The Jeep Wagoneer in the NA market that came out in 1963. It was available in 2 door wagon, 4 door wagon, WD and mostly 4 WD (and panel delivery, pickup bodied versions by the late 1960’s I believe only in 4 Dr. wagons). It was available with stripped down versions to ones with better level car like interiors, car like exterior trim, air conditioning, 3 sp. Automatic transmissions and other ‘luxury’ features. They were available at first with a SOHC 6 cyl. or 5.2 L V-8, later ones with AMC and then Chrysler motors The basic body and chassies would continue to about 1990 as Jeep went through Willies, American Motors, Renault then Chrysler ownership. Here is a link to some of their history, pictures. http://www.allpar.com/SUVs/jeep/wagoneer.html

  7. As a young apprentice transferred to Solihull Land Rover I drove the Range Rover to Callow and Maddox in Exhall Coventry for them to trim the load space area in the famous beige colours. I worked within the Production Purchase area on Trim care of Alan Lynes.

  8. The original Discovery had a rear centre console mount shoulder zip bag in the blue or beige trim colour which used to go for silly money secondhand. On the same basis I just thought I’d look what an In Vogue picnic basket goes for – £800! The P38a Autobiography seat back picnic trays also seem to fetch very good money – if you see anything like these snap them up!

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