The development of a replacement for the Land Rover Defender has presented successive Rover and Jaguar Land Rover managements with an ongoing problem down the years. The familiar-looking Land Rover LCV 2/3 could have done the job very effectively had it borne fruit.
Here’s a run-down of what we know about it…
The 1997 Land Rover LCV2/3
Defending the 1990s
The Lightweight Concept Vehicle programme was initiated by Land Rover in the early 1990s, and was a serious investigation into the production of lighter, cleaner and greener off-roaders. The idea was to test-bed new technologies for Project Vinland, harking back to the days of the British Leyland Technology ECV programme, and one of the targets was to come up with a Defender replacement capable of 40mpg.
The LCV1 was based on a Discovery 1 and was effectively that car re-clad in aluminium – and produced encouraging results. That led to LCV2, which was a series of prototypes closely based on the Defender 90.
Underneath, though, it was radically different to its lookalike, built on a unique bonded and riveted space frame. Despite this, it was strong – and is said to have the strength and durability of the production Defender. That was developed into the ultimate incarnation of the LCV, the LCV⅔ – or LCV ‘two-thirds’, as it was known internally.
Land Rover LCV 2/3 never bore fruit
The LCV⅔ was built to demonstrate to company management what could be achieved in the next phase of the programme, LCV3. Sadly, that never got underway, leaving us with a fascinating insight into the mindset of Land Rover in the late 1990s, and what its idea of a new-age Defender replacement would look like. It’s also an interesting comparison with the Land Rover SD5 of the 1970s.
The styling inside and out was conservative, yet progressive, designed to appeal to management – but it was underneath where all the action takes place. The space frame design philosophy and construction techniques were carried over from the LCV2, while the engine was a KV6 lifted straight out of the Rover 800.
Looks retro, but ultra-modern underneath
The pick-up was considerably more aerodynamic than the Defender 90, and looks really appealing even today. However, the project never took off – investment costs would have been too high in an era when the emphasis was on getting the Range Rover L322 and Rover 75 into production.
According to site contributor Joel Beaumont, ‘the LCV⅔ was styled by David Bees and a great proportion of the engineering was done by a selection of people in the Pre-Concepts Department, including Neil Thomas, Robert Barlow and Pete Webber. The department was headed by Mike Pendry who retired shortly after I joined in 1998.’
More room than a Defender
LCV2/3 interior looks reassuringly familiar