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Range Rover Classic
Range Rover Classic (US)
Manufacturer Land Rover
Parent company Rover 1970-1994
BMW 1994-2000
Production 1970–1996
Successor Range Rover "P38A"
Class Mid-size SUV
Engine(s) 3.5 L Rover V8
3.9 L Rover V8
4.2 L Rover V8
2.4 L VM Motori TD I4
2.5 L VM Motori TD I4
2.5 L 200Tdi TD I4
2.5 L 300Tdi TD I4
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,743 mm (108.0 in) (UK-specification LSE/US County LWB)
2,540 mm (100.0 in) (all others)
Width 1,780 mm (70.1 in)
Height 1,800 mm (70.9 in) (1970-1980)
1,780 mm (70.1 in) (1980 onwards)
Fuel capacity 86.5 L (19.0 imp gal/22.9 US gal)[1]
Related Land Rover Discovery
Designer David Bache

The Range Rover Classic is a 4x4 luxury SUV series built by British car maker Land Rover from 1970 to 1996. It was the first generation of vehicles produced under the Range Rover name. For most of its history, it was known simply as the "Range Rover"; Land Rover coined the term "Range Rover Classic" for the brief period the model was built alongside its P38A successor, and applied the name retrospectively to all first-generation Range Rovers.[2]

Concept and Design

Although only intended to be a post-war stopgap, the Rover Company's Land Rover 4x4 launched in 1948 proved to a be a worldwide success; within two years it was vastly outselling the company's usual product of semi-luxury cars. The Land Rover had been designed to be cheap and easy to produce and to suit hard work in tough terrain. It was thus a very simple, basic vehicle with a minimum of concessions to comfort- on early vehicles the canvas hood, passenger seats and even doors were optional extras. From the beginning Rover realised that a market existed for a Land Rover that was off-road capable but more comfortable and civilised. In 1949 it released the Land Rover Station Wagon with a coachbuilt wood-framed body by Tickford. Whilst a big improvement on the standard vehicle (the Tickford had seven seats, floor carpets, a heater, a one-piece windscreen and other car-like features) its hand-built nature kept prices high and fewer than 700 were sold before sales were stopped in 1951.

In 1954 Land Rover launched its second type of Land Rover Station Wagon, this time built by the company itself. The new version was much more successful but was aimed more at the commercial user who needed an off-road people carrier rather than the buyer requiring car like comfort in an off-roader. The Station Wagon was based on the commercial variant of the Land Rover but with seats fitted to the load space and windows cut into the sides. Whilst available with features such as an interior light, heater, door and floor trims and upgraded seats the Station Wagon retained the base vehicles tough and capable but firm suspension as well as its mediocre road performance.

By the late 1950s Rover remained convinced that a market existed for a vehicle combining the toughness and ability of the Land Rover with the comfort of a Rover saloon car. In 1958 the first of the 'Road Rover' concepts were built. These were a series of development cars built by the engineering department consisting of Land Rover chassis and running gear clothed in a functional but car-like estate car body. The Road Rover was aimed at markets such as Africa and Australia where ordinary motorists faced long journeys on unmade roads where a vehicle with four-wheel drive and tough suspension was a benefit.

By the 1960s Rover was becoming aware of the development of the Sports Utility Vehicle in North America. SUVs such as the International Harvester Scout and the Ford Bronco offered a different blend of off- and on-road ability to existing utility 4x4s such as the Land Rover and the Jeep, proving capable of good on-road comfort and speed whilst retaining more than adequate off-road ability for most private users. The Jeep Wagoneer proved the concept further. The final element of what would become the Range Rover concept was provided by the President of Rover's USA operations who, frustrated by the lack of suitable vehicles from Britain to compete with the new crop of SUVs sent Rover a Land Rover Series II 88 fitted with a Buick V8 which offered far greater on-road performance and refinement than any Land Rover currently in production.

Rover acknowledged the emergence of this new market for recreational off-roaders and in 1967 began the '100-inch Station Wagon' programme to develop a radical car to compete, with Charles Spencer King in charge. King quickly defined the basic layout of the new vehicle, realising that only long-travel coil springs could provide the required blend of luxury car comfort and Land Rover-like off-road ability (King is said to have been convinced by coil springs when driving a Rover P6 across rough scrubland on part of the Solihull factory site that was being redeveloped, but Rover also bought a Ford Bronco which featured such a suspension system in the early stages of the 100"SW programme). Spencer King was also convinced that a permanent four wheel drive transmission was needed to provide both adequate handling and to reliably absorb the power that would be required by the vehicle if it was to be competitive. This required a totally new transmission unit to be developed but Rover spread development costs between the 100"SW project and that working on what would become the Land Rover 101 Forward Control. The adoption by Rover of the Buick alloy V8 engine had provided the perfect powerplant for the new 4x4, being powerful, light and sturdy. Various modifications were made to the design to suit use in the Range Rover such as fitting different carburretors that maintained fuel supply at extreme angles and making provision for the engine to use a starting handle in emergencies.

The final design, launched in 1970 with bodywork styled largely by the engineering team rather than David Bache's styling division, was marketed as 'A Car For All Reasons'. In its original guise the Range Rover was more capable off-road than the Land Rover but was much more comfortable, offered a top speed in excess of 100 MPH, a towing capacity of 3.5 tons, spacious accommodation for 5 people and groundbreaking features such as an 8-speed permanent four-wheel-drive gearbox and hydraulic disc brakes on all wheels.


Range Rover 3-door

Like other Land Rover vehicles, most of the Range Rover's bodywork skin is constructed from lightweight aluminum, save for the two-section rear tailgate, and the bonnet on all but the earliest models. Apart from minor cosmetic changes,[3][4][5] the body design changed very little in its first decade. However, whilst utility Land Rovers had body panels rolled from a single sheet of aluminium, the Range Rover used aluminium panels hung on a steel 'safety frame' (a method pioneered with great success on the Rover P6 saloon). This allowed the bodywork of the Range Rover to carry much greater structural strength via the steel frame whilst retaining the corrosion-resistant and easily repaired aluminium outer panels. Whilst the steel frame was designed by the engineering team, it was expected that Rover's stylist David Bache would provide a design for the outer panels for use on the production vehicles. For the prototypes the engineers designed their own functional body panels simply to protect the occupants and to allow the vehicles to be driven legally on the road. However the clean, square-cut and functional design of the prototype was deemed so good that Bache only altered the detailing, such as providing a different front grille and headlamp design.

One of the first significant changes came in 1981, with the introduction of a four-door body.[6] Until then, Range Rovers only had two doors, making access to the rear seats rather awkward. These doors were also very large and heavy. Several companies offered conversions to four doors in the late 1970s. One by the company Monteverdi was approved for warranty purposes by Land Rover and was closely followed when the company produced its own development. The four-door version was received well by the public; its popularity being such that the two-door was discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1984,[7] although the two-door continued to be produced to the end, mainly for the French market.[8] The front end of the Range Rover was revamped in 1986. This brought a more pedestrian-friendly plastic grille with horizontal slats, and optional front valance with two fog lights. Mirrors were now mounted on the door pillar rather than the doors, the seat base was lowered and door handles were redesigned, making it more difficult for rear passengers but greatly improving the comfort for taller people in the front. Other changes include the windows, tailgate and bonnet but none of those affected the general design

Chassis and suspension

The Range Rover broke from the Land Rovers of its time by using coil springs instead of the then-common leaf springs. Because of its hefty weight, it also had disc brakes on all four wheels. Originally, it had no power steering, though this was added a few years after its introduction.[6]

One problem with the Range Rover chassis was that it suffered considerably from body roll. Because of this, the suspension was lowered by 20 mm (0.8 in) in 1980,[9] and later gained anti-roll bars.[10] Air suspension was introduced in late 1992 for high-end 1993 models.[6]

Most Range Rovers had a 100-inch (2,500 mm) wheelbase. However, 1992 saw the introduction of a more luxurious model, branded the LSE in the United Kingdom and County LWB (long wheelbase) in the United States providing expansive rear-passenger legroom absent from the 100" wheelbase models. These had a 108 inch (2743 mm) wheelbase and 4.2 litre engines.[11]

The 100-inch Range Rover chassis became the basis for the Land Rover Discovery, introduced in 1989.

The first generation Range Rover, early 2-door model.

The post-facelift Range Rover (LWB), such as this early 1990s four-door example, had front valance and horizontal slat grille.


Originally, the Range Rover was fitted with a detuned 135 hp (101 kW) version of the Buick-derived Rover V8 engine. The 3.5 litre (3,528 cc) engine was bored out to a displacement of 3.9 litre (3,947 cc) for the 1990 model year,[9] and 4.2 litres (4,197 cc) in 1992.

Petrol-fuelled Range Rovers were fitted with carburettors until 1986, when they were replaced by Lucas electronic fuel injection,[9] improving both performance and fuel economy. The Lucas injection system continued to evolve over the next several years, culminating in the 1990-1995 Lucas 14CUX. Some export markets retained carburettors, with the original Zenith/Stromberg manufactured units being replaced by Skinners Union (SU)-manufactured items.

From 1979 onwards, Land Rover collaborated with Perkins on Project Iceberg, an effort to develop a diesel version of the Range Rover's 3.5 litre V8 engine.[12] Both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged versions were built, but the all-alloy engine blocks failed under the much greater pressures involved in diesel operation. The project was, therefore, abandoned. The effort to strengthen the Rover V8 for diesel operation was not, however, completely wasted; the 4.2 litre petrol variant of the engine used crankshaft castings developed in the Iceberg project.[13]

Because of the Iceberg failure, it was not until 1986 that Range Rovers gained diesel engines from the factory. The more efficient 2.4 litre (2,393 cc) I4 VM diesel from Italy was made available as an option for the heavily-taxed European market as the 'Turbo D' model,[6] and were bored out to 2.5 litre (2,499 cc) in 1989.[10] The VM engines were highly advanced and refined diesel engines for their time but were received poorly by the UK press, who tended to compare their performance to the V8 models. To counter these criticisms Land Rover used a Turbo D Range Rover to set several speed and endurance records for diesel vehicles during 1987, including a continuous run over 24 hours at over 100 MPH. The VM were replaced by Land Rover's own 200Tdi turbocharged diesel engine in 1992.[6] and 300Tdi at the end of 1994.


The Range Rover used permanent four-wheel drive, rather than the switchable rear-wheel/four-wheel drive on Land Rover's Series vehicles, and had a lever for switching ratios on the transfer box for off-road use. Originally, the only gearbox available was a four-speed manual unit (with an optional Fairey overdrive after 1977). A three-speed Chrysler automatic gearbox became an option in 1982, which was upgraded to a 4-speed ZF box in 1985, coupled to an LT230 transfer box.[9] The other major transmission upgrade in the Range Rover's lifetime was the switch from the LT95 combined four-speed manual gearbox and transfer box to the LT77 five-speed gearbox and separate LT230 transfer box in 1983. The LT230 was later used on both the Defender and Discovery models, but was replaced on the Range Rover by a Borg Warner chain-driven transfer box incorporating an automatic viscous coupling limited slip differential - earlier transmissions had a manual diff lock (operated by a vacuum servo on the LT95 and mechanically on the LT230). The LT77 had two major design changes: first an upgrade to larger bearings for the layshaft and new ratios around 1988, then a newly designed synchro hub for 3/4th gear and double sunchros for 1st and 2nd. This is also known as the suffix H gearbox or LT77s.

in 1995 both 300 tdi and V8 Range Rovers were fitted with an R380 gearbox which is identical to those in the same generation of the Discovery. The same gearbox was later fitted to the P38 model The r380 comes this full synchronization even for the reverse gear.

Off-road, and on

In June 1970, the Range Rover was introduced to the public, to much critical acclaim. It appeared that Rover had succeeded in their goal of a car equally capable both on and off road – arguably, better than any four-wheel drive vehicle of its era in both environments. Road performance (a top speed of 95 mph (153 km/h) and acceleration from a standstill to 60 mph (97 km/h) in less than 15 seconds) was said to be better than many family saloon cars of its era,[14] and off-road performance was good, owing to its long suspension travel and high ground clearance. The 1995 Classic Range Rovers can run a 0-60 mph time of around 11 seconds, and they top out at approximately 110 mph (180 km/h).

Notable off-road feats were winning the 4-wheel drive class in the first Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979 and 1981,[15] and being two of the first vehicles (along with a Land Rover Series IIA) to traverse both American continents north-to-south through the Darién Gap from 1971 to 1972.[16]

Modified 1992 Range Rover created for the rocks of Colorado and slickrock of Moab, Utah.

Special Range Rovers

Popemobile (1982)

One of Pope John Paul II's two popemobiles, used on his visit to Scotland in 1982, was a Range Rover, the other was a 24 tonne truck built by British Leyland.

In Vogue (1983–1995)

The "In Vogue", a more luxurious special edition of the Range Rover, was produced in 1983. This went into full-fledged production as the Vogue.

CSK (1990)

In 1990 a special 20th anniversary edition of the Range Rover was created—the CSK [17] (CSK being the initials of the original designer, Charles Spencer King). Only 200 CSKs were ever made, all of which were two-door vehicles. For a while, King owned number 200, but this has since been sold on.

Great Divide Edition (1990–1991)

This limited edition Range Rover was named after the Great Divide Expedition in 1989. Only 400 were made, plus a total of nine extra for promotional purposes. All painted Alpine white with Sorrell light brown leather interiors. They have a round Great Divide sticker on the tailgate and a numbered brass plaque in the drivers door jamb. They came with a sunroof, auto dim rear view mirror, and American walnut on the doors, dash and centre console. The front page of the GDE owners manual had a sticker that says "NOTE: This limited Production Range Rover has a special equipment package giving it unique character and appeal." Not all of the equipment described in the Owner's Manual is installed on the Great Divide Edition Vehicle. Specifically the references to the front spoiler, engine undertray, and fog lamps do not apply to this vehicle. The fog lamp switch and wiring is installed on the vehicle.[18]

Top Gear Bolivian Special

On December 27, 2009 Top Gear aired a 75 minute special episode in which the presenters had to drive 1,000 miles through Bolivia using second hand vehicles bought over the Internet. Jeremy Clarkson purchased a manual transmission 3.5 carburated V8 Ranger Rover Classic, believing it to be the 3.9 fuel injected V8. Though the vehicle was in a poor state - Clarkson noted that except for the demister, none of the internal dials or controls worked, had overheating issues due to missing and broken fan blades and was partially submerged whilst fjording a river, the Range Rover was more than able to cope with the rough terrain and harsh environment of the Bolivian rainforest, the Yungas Road and the Altiplano. Its coil-spring suspension proved to be much more comfortable when driven along unmade tracks and logging roads than the other two presenter's leaf-sprung 4x4s. Clarkson had the vehicle modified for the trek across the Altiplano with larger tyres, a lift and an interior rollbar, although he commented to Richard Hammond that in doing so he had made it worse. At the end of the journey, Clarkson and James Mays' Suzuki SJ had to descend a large, steep sand dune to reach the end of the challenge. The duo safely descended the dune and reached the end. The Range Rover was declared the over all winner of the challenge; much to the amusement of the presenters who all initially expected it to be the most unreliable vehicle on the trek. Jeremy Clarkson remarked that "...the most unreliable car in the world is the most reliable car in the world".


Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Range Rover Classic. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

  1. Daily Express Motor Show Review 1975 Cars: Page 42 (Range Rover). October 1974. 
  2. Official Land Rover documentation collections for both 1970-1985 (LHP1, v1.1) and 1986-1994 (LHP2, v1.1) Range Rovers, for example, refers to the vehicles as "Range Rover Classic", despite never being called that when originally built.
  3. "Land Rover History 1973". Land Rover Monthly. Archived from the original on 2006-12-16. Retrieved on 2007-01-21. "The back end got vinyl covering on the rear quarter panels and there was the option of a rear window wash and wipe. Inside, the front seats had an extra handle to allow them to be tipped from outside more easily, and the blanked out holes in the dash now had the option of extra gauges."
  4. "Land Rover History 1977". Land Rover Monthly. Archived from the original on 2006-12-16. Retrieved on 2007-01-21.
  5. "Land Rover History 1979". Land Rover Monthly. Archived from the original on 2007-01-07. Retrieved on 2007-01-21. The changes were wing repeater lamps, new decals, black-painted bumpers & mirrors, and a better-looking steering wheel.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Allison, L. (1994). "Range Rover I (1970-1995)". Retrieved on 2006-03-16.
  7. Smith, Benjamin. "How to Identify A Range Rover". Land Rover FAQ. Retrieved on 2006-11-01.
  8. Cutting, Andrew. "Buying a Range Rover Classic model year 1984-1995". Land Rover Monthly. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Methuen, P. Range Rover Service and Repair Manual. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85960-274-4. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 In 1989. See "Land Rover History 1989". Land Rover Monthly. Archived from the original on 2006-12-16. Retrieved on 2007-03-20.
  11. Ford Motor Company. "Land Rover North American Historical Landmarks". Retrieved on 2006-12-05.[dead link]
  12. "Land Rover History 1984". Land Rover Monthly. Archived from the original on 2007-01-07. Retrieved on 2006-10-26. Photos of the engine available from
  13. As did the 4.45 litre Rover V8 engine for the TVR Tuscan. See Hammill, Des (2004). How to Power Tune Rover V8 Engines for Road and Track. Veloce Publishing, 12. ISBN 1-903-706-173. 
  14. "Range Rover Road Test". Autocar (November 1970). “...and the 19.1sec time for the standing quarter mile is much better than many more lithesome saloons can manage, and only 1.2sec slower than the Rover 3500.”
  15. MotorSports Etc.. "Dakar Rally Winners (Car Category)". Retrieved on 2006-10-26.
  16. 4WD Internet Magazine. "Darien Gap 4x4". Retrieved on 2006-03-24.
  17. [1] Range Rover CSK

External links