Click above to view the LRX concept in hi-res
Is it just us, or is every carmaker celebrating its sixtieth anniversary? The end of WW2 in 1945 and the resumption of industrial activity across Europe certainly played a big role, but the coincidence is still staggering. Ferrari celebrated its 60th last year. Saab celebrated sixty years the year before, while Bentley celebrated 60 years at its Crewe factory. Lotus is marking its 60th anniversary this year a few years early, while the Ford F-Series pick-up is blowing out its sixty candles. Porsche is also counting sixty years in business. Add to those celebrations that of Land Rover, which premiered its original Series 1 off-roader in 1948.
Land Rover, now under new ownership from Tata, is planning an array of birthday celebrations around the world. The Goodwood Festival of Speed will mark the occasion by showcasing Land Rover as its featured marque this year, where the iconic off-road outfitter will unveil a new automotive sculpture by artist Gerry Juddah. In its sixty year history, Land Rovers have arguably scaled more mountains and traversed more wilderness than any other motorized vehicle in the history of mankind.[Source: Land Rover]
60 years ago today, a motoring icon made its public debut, when the original Land Rover was shown at a motor show in Amsterdam, on April 30, 1948. The current Defender is clearly descended from that first vehicle, known as a Series 1. Extraordinarily, they even share a couple of original parts, an oil filler plug and a cleat for tying down the canvas roof. But the rest of the vehicle technology has moved on considerably.
Today, Land Rover goes from strength-to-strength, with a five-model line- up headed by the Range Rover, and record global sales of over 226,000 vehicles in 2007.
The company recently received an early birthday present, in the form of two Queen's Awards for Enterprise. The first, for 'International Trade', was given in recognition of export sales of nearly 4 billion pounds Sterling per annum to 147 countries, with markets such as China and Russia driving major growth. The second, for 'Innovation', was awarded for Land Rover's acclaimed Terrain Response(TM) system. At the twist of a knob, this sets up the vehicle's engine response and traction systems to maximize performance on all terrains -- the electronic equivalent of having an expert instructor alongside the driver.
Around the world, Land Rover will be celebrating its 60th anniversary year throughout the summer with a series of special activities and events.
Land Rover is an outstanding British engineering and manufacturing success story. Its manufacturing plants at Solihull (near Birmingham) and Halewood (near Liverpool) and its Research and Development facilities in the English Midlands, employ a workforce of 8,500 -- and the company helps support an estimated further 40,000 jobs through automotive suppliers.
Since the first Series I model rolled off the production line at Solihull, the vehicles created by Land Rover have defined the SUV market. In 1970, the company introduced what's been called the most significant SUV ever, the Range Rover -- the first SUV to be equally capable on-road as off-road. Now, alongside the Range Rover and Defender*, sit the LR3, LR2 and Range Rover Sport.
Land Rover's spirit of adventure has been evident from the earliest days. Adventurers, farmers, scientists, naturalists, and outdoor sport enthusiasts have all used Land Rovers' capability to access some of the world's most inhospitable regions. For 60 years, the company's vehicles have also worked for a multitude of humanitarian and conservation organizations, represented today by Land Rover's formal ties with the Born Free Foundation, Biosphere, Earthwatch, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and the China Exploration and Research Society.
Phil Popham, Land Rover's Managing Director, commented, "Land Rover's history is a long and illustrious one -- and the future is just as exciting. We are committed to maintaining our relevance and meeting the needs of our customers in a changing global environment. Earlier this year, we unveiled a glimpse into our possible future -- the diesel hybrid LRX cross-coupe concept. This signals that Land Rover will continue to evolve, with capability, premium values and sustainable motoring at the top of the agenda."
Land Rover North America is part of Ford Motor Company's Premier Automotive Group with headquarters in Irvine, California. Land Rover established operations in the U.S. in 1986, and now imports and distributes Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, LR3 and LR2 vehicles manufactured by Land Rover in Solihull and Halewood, England. Land Rover's worldwide operations are wholly owned by Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan. For information about the Land Rover retailer nearest you, call 800-FIND-4WD or log on to LAND ROVER .