1948 was an important year for a number of reasons. It was the year the LP was born and changed the music industry forever. It was the year that television became a mass-market object with 1 million households owning one in the US. It was was the year that Samuel L. Jackson was born which granted was not as big but still changed the outcome of some pretty great movies. While all of these things were massive moments in history, they were eclipsed by something greater. 1948 was the year that Land Rover launched its first vehicle, the Land Rover Series 1.
The Rover Company was founded in 1885 but originally was a bicycle manufacturer. After World War 2 there was a shortage of high-quality all-terrain vehicles for the agricultural market in the United Kingdom. Land Rover stepped in with a design that didn’t rely on steel and could provide a sturdy vehicle based on cars that had been used in the military.
The car was an immediate success. Due to its strong design and practical build, it satisfied not only the agricultural market but the wider market as well. The royal family itself has been known to own a lot of Land Rovers over the years as well.
The Rover Company would continue to go from strength to strength and in 1970 launched the Range Rover family. A higher-quality group of cars aimed at the wealthy market. This was in direct response to the common usage of SUVs as leisure vehicles. In 1978 the company had changes in ownership and became Land Rover Limited.
The early Land Rover Series 1 has now become a collector’s item around the world with a number still in circulation. As it was designed for the agricultural market it has a very special defining feature. The steering wheel is found in the center of the car instead of on the left or right side. While a little strange to drive in open roads it means that the car needed no alterations for any other market. Whether left-hand drive or right-hand drive, the center would do just fine.
The 100th car made was given as a gift to King George the sixth and since this time there has been a special relationship between the Land Rover and the British Royal Family. The Land Rover itself has become something of a British icon. The Range Rover although a sub-brand of Land Rover Limited is seen as a more international car with many wealthy car owners in America choosing the Range Rover above all else for its style, quality, and strength.
The Land Rover Series 1 only had two doors and could reach a top speed of 60 mph. It weighed over 1,000kg and was considered light at the time as it wasn’t using steel in the build. After World War two supplies were so low that the car company was forced to find alternative materials and relied upon aluminum instead. It was so successful that they stuck with aluminum for future releases. Rationing was still commonplace in Britain at the time. This is highlighted by the fact that the first post-war Olympics were held in London in 1948 and were called the Austerity Olympics due to the restrictions at the time.
The Land Rover Series 1 and the Land Rover company itself were in many ways born out of restrictions and need. It is this legacy that has ensured the car company continues to stay at the front of car manufacturing when it comes to sports utility vehicles. The SUV market is one that has only become more contested since 1970 and is one that the Land Rover has remained dominant in.