Here’s an interesting one – and one that poses more questions than answers them. This rendering fell into the lap of Land Rover Historian and former product planner, brand manager and PR for the firm, Mike Gould. What this image by Phil Simmons depicts is a Hyundai version of the Rover Oden programme – and quite early on its development cycle.
In 1992, Rover wasn’t exactly flush with cash. Sales were strong, but without the necessary investment in the next generation of models forthcoming from parent company British Aerospace, the firm was having to think carefully about how it would realise the innovative cars that were sat on the drawing board. The 200, 400 (R8), 6o0 and 800 were thus joint venture products with Honda, while the upcoming MGF would be productionised with the help of Mayflower.
A collaborative partner was also sought for the Oden/Pathfinder (which became the Freelander). We know the rest – Valmet almost ended up building what became the Freelander in what would have been an innovative joint venture. But early on, it seems Rover was a little more ambitious – and seemingly Hyundai was targeted as someone to work with.
As Mike says, ‘it correlates with what I was told by Anne Youngson, who was managing the project – Hyundai was approached to do it as a joint project, and this image was part of that. Also note the NAS features.’ It’s definitely interesting that the firm had its eye on the US market, even though it was coming to the end of its Sterling nightmare. SUVs were strong there, and Hyundai was growing fast – could the intervention of Rover help bring the two together?
As Mike adds, ‘The story of Oden, Cyclone etc. is extremely complicated – all I can really remember is driving the Honda Shuttle 4WD buck around Gaydon in the middle of the night and the battle between Land Rover and Rover as to who should lead on the programme. The concept had both 2WD and 4WD versions and 4WD was regarded as Land Rover’s domain.’
What happened to the Hyundai conversation? Was it a missed opportunity? There are obviously links between the companies – George Turnbull, the Pony and the tooling it was built with. There was also a Rover KV6-powered Sedona MPV (remember that?) to add to the story.
So, how far did things get with Hyundai? I’ll keep this updated as I find out more…
- Concepts and prototypes : Hyundai/Rover Oden (1992) - 9 November 2023
- Opinion : So, maybe the Montego was the best they could do… - 8 November 2023
- The cars : Austin Montego (LM11) development story - 7 November 2023