To celebrate 50 years of the Range Rover, Land Rover gathered 50 of the most important, iconic and interesting models in its history and paraded them around the Goodwood racing circuit. It’s an event that’s been postponed since the Goodwood Festival of Speed and took place during SpeedWeek – the COVID-19-friendly replacement for the Festival and the Revival Meeting.
I can’t begin to imagine how much planning and organisation it took to get these vehicles together – so massive kudos to Land Rover for making it happen, and all of the owners and drivers for generously giving their time. From a personal perspective, it proved to be one of the most amazing days of my career, as I was invited along to run at the head of the parade in the oldest surviving production Range Rover, YVB 153H.
I drove the 1970 car – built around the day I was born – alongside a 1969 drivable chassis, piloted by journalistic legend (and one of the people who inspired me to write for a living), Steve Cropley, as well as YVB 163H – one of the Velar-badged pre-production cars. What a sight it must have made!
Nerve-wracking and exhilarating…
As driving experiences go, this is an incredible place to be. The Range Rover is possibly the UK’s most important post-War vehicles, and its maker – Jaguar Land Rover – is Britain’s biggest car company. To be driving the oldest production model – an exhibit of the British Motor Museum – is a very big deal, and it’s difficult not to be more-than slightly nervous. But pity poor Steve alongside – it’s a crisp autumn morning, probably around six degrees, and he’s driving a car with absolutely no bodywork, and he’s not even brought a winter coat!
The Land Rover community is a close one, though, and many of us drivers know each other, making this feel like one of the greatest days out. Brilliant cars, good mates, and the finest of venues – what a way to shake off the lockdown blues so many of us have suffered in 2020. There’s such a wide variety of Range Rovers on show (some of the most interesting pictured below), it’s difficult to know where to look in the paddock before the off.
The selection of cars was made up of original classics and included a modified ambulance and a 6×6 fire engine (above). All four generations of Range Rover were there, and it was an impressive sight to behold. Other vehicles included the Beaver Bullet, which broke 27 speed records in 1985, a Trans-American Expedition example which crossed the all-but-impassable Darien Gap in 1971 (above), and a 2004 example used by Greater Manchester police.
As for me, I sat in the Range Rover, drove it behind and alongside Steve, and tried to take in one of those life-affirming moments that reminds me that I am one lucky bugger to be able to join in and be part of events such as this. What shines through brightly is that the Range Rover in its purest and earliest form is still a beguilingly wonderful thing – handsome, purposeful and completely classless. Yes, I was little starstruck, but who wouldn’t be in my shoes.
What a day – happy 50th birthday, Range Rover!