With newer products now reaching dealers, Land Rover is evidently keen to leave the Freelander in the past. But a classic? Surely the British automaker must be kidding... right? It's not.

That's right: as of today, the Land Rover Freelander is classified in the company's own esteem as a "heritage" vehicle. That means that it will continue stocking spare parts – 9,000 different components, all told – for the recently discontinued model, but not as a contemporary vehicle. Instead its stockpiles will be transferred to the company's Heritage department, which will continue making the parts available for owners of these aging models alongside those for older Range Rover, Discovery, and Series I, II, and III models that predated the Defender.

Now if you're thinking that the Freelander can't really be that old, you're right... in part. The latest model was sold here in the United States as the LR2 and was just discontinued barely over a year ago. But the original Freelander first arrived in 1997 and wasn't replaced until 2006. That makes it 10 years now since the first-gen LR Freelander went out of production. By Land Rover's own definition, that makes it a Heritage vehicle.

Now replaced by the Discovery Sport – and superseded in part by the Range Rover Evoque – the Freelander was one of Land Rover's most successful models. In fact, the manufacturer reports that in Europe alone, it was the best-selling four-wheel-drive vehicle for five years running, straight through to 2002. While the second-gen model was sold only as a five-door wagon, the first generation saw three-door convertible SUVs, as well. That's a largely dying breed. The three-door drop-top version of the Mercedes G-Class was discontinued a couple of years ago. Suzuki and its long line of drop-top cute-utes are long-gone from the US market.

For its part, Land Rover stopped producing the convertible Freelander and recently discontinued the Defender altogether. But it launched the Evoque just a couple of months ago, and will soon launch an all-new Defender, which is widely expected to offer a three-door convertible bodystyle as well. We just wouldn't hold our breath for a convertible Discovery Sport any time soon.
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BEST-SELLING FREELANDER 1 BECOMES LATEST LAND ROVER HERITAGE VEHICLE

- Hugely popular Freelander 1 becomes newest Land Rover Heritage vehicle
- Over 9,000 individual part numbers available for best-selling compact 4WD
- Rapidly became Europe's best-selling 4WD vehicle for five consecutive years after launch in 1997
- Land Rover Heritage specialises in cars, services, parts and experiences

Whitley, 4 January, 2016. Produced between 1997 and 2006, the Land Rover Freelander 1 remains one of the brand's best-selling models and is now officially a Land Rover Heritage vehicle. Land Rover Heritage specialises in cars, services, parts and experiences for classic Land Rover models and the Freelander 1 becomes the brand's eighth Heritage model. The others are Series I, II and III, Range Rover Classic and P38 Range Rover plus Discovery 1 and 2.

A Heritage model is defined as a product that has been out of production for longer than 10 years and the Freelander 1 was first produced in 1997 and its production run ended nine years later in 2006 when Freelander 2 replaced it. Ever since production of Freelander 1 concluded, Land Rover continued to support owners through the supply of spare parts. Now, owners will be supported by the brand's Heritage experts and ensure loyal owners continue to enjoy their vehicle for many years to come.

Over 9,000 individual Land Rover Heritage Part numbers are available for the Freelander 1 and it adds to the brand's comprehensive parts catalogue, which already features over 33,000 items for both Jaguar and Land Rover Heritage vehicles.

Tim Hannig, Director, Jaguar Land Rover Heritage, said: "With the addition of the Freelander 1 as a Heritage model, Land Rover is reaffirming its support and commitment to its loyal customers by providing exceptional cars, services, parts and experiences for models more than 10 years out of production. Genuine Land Rover Heritage Parts for Freelander 1 have been engineered and tested in extreme conditions. As such it gives our customers total peace-of-mind that their vehicles are maintained to the highest possible standards."

When it was launched, the Freelander broke the mould by pioneering the compact premium 4x4 class and at the time had 16 patented features including Hill Descent Control (HDC), Immediate Reduction Drive (IDR), a viscous-coupling (VCU) and an innovative ABS system designed specifically for off-road situations.


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