Think the idea of a new-age Land Rover Defender is a new one? Think again…
British Leyland’s Specialist Division had a very convincing crack at it back in the early 1970s.
Rover SD5: New age Landie
For all those who thought that the only Specialist Division prototypes produced were the Rover SD1 and Triumph SD2, here’s something of a treat for you. During the early 1970s, BL management investigated the possibility of replacing its long-lived Land Rover, and tasked the Specialist Division to come up with a low-cost, easy to produce alternative, which would carry on the name into the 1980s and beyond.
The photograph of the buck (below) clearly demonstrates that the new car, codenamed SD5, ticked all of those boxes and could have been very effective with Rover V8 power under the bonnet (as is the case in the pictures). However, in the event, development came along at just the wrong time in BL history and not only was funding a no-go in the post-Ryder Report era but Solihull still had a waiting list for the Land Rover and Range Rover.
Did the market really need an updated car?
The SD5 project was therefore cancelled and the company’s next new model launch would have to wait until 1979 with the arrival of the V8-powered Land Rover.