Classic Range Rover

Developing the Range Rover was a process entirely reliant on the brilliance ofSpen King

door was still selling strongly, the necessary funds weren't released - and, incredibly, the four-door project was mothballed until 1981. An automatic gearbox - surely an essential option for the Range Rover - wasn't even available until the following year, at the same lime thai the Range Rover received a 5bhp power boost.

in vogue

Yes, by the early Eighties, the Range Rover development drive was finally under way. A five-speed manual gearbox from the Jaguar XJ6 improved cruising ability (a better four-speed auto would also arrive in '84), but it was the initially-limited 'In Vogue' special edition that really transformed the Range Rover's fortunes. Filled with posh fittings both inside and out, this finally was the upmarket factory-finish model that specialists such as Switzerland's Monteverdi had been producing for years.

It wasn't limited for long. Land Rover soon made the Vogue a permanent addition to the Range Rover line-up, and the model's progressive move upmarket continued. It was given a further boost in 1985 when the engine gained fuel-injection, which saw il produce 165bhp and boast even classier manners. In contrast, the 1986 2.4-litre diesel (bought in from Italy's VM) was less impressive; it may have had a decent 112bhp, but it severely lacked low-end torque.

Range Rover rectified this in 1989, with the introduction of a bigger 2.5-litre VM diesel, which also got a power boost to 119bhp. More significant, however, was the enlargement of the petrol V8 to 3.9 litres - a classic engine capacity in Range Rover folklore, with 185bhp on tap from this gem of a powerplant.

the classic cometh

By now, the Range Rover was 20 years old - but still in rude health. The shift upmarket was really bearing fruit, enabling the firm to push the boat out when celebrating two decades of success. The result was the CSK special edition - an absolutely lavish, black two-door with stiffened suspension and a strictly-limited 200-model build sequence. And today it's one of the most collectable Range Rovers around.

The 1992 cars were the truly amazing ones, though - for not only did they get a 200bhp 4.2-litre V8 (facilitated by a longer engine stroke), they were also treated to an eight-inch wheelbase strcich as well as full air suspension. With five different height settings, this made for superb ride quality and look llie model lo a whole new level, both off-road and on - and the Vogue LSE versions are, needless to say, also highly prized today.

There was also yet another diesel launched, with a lllbhp Rover 2.5-litre from the Discovery replacing the bought-in VM motor.

Just two years later, though, the all-new P38a Range Rover was going on sale. A true revolution in Land Rover circles, this was the fiendishly well developed successor thai really showed Range Rover had come of age. And yet the original-style Range Rover refused to die. and with the addition of its first all-new dashboard (borrowed from the Discovery) it continued for another two years - now known as the Range Rover Classic.

It was a fitting way for the fabled model to see out its days. Land Rover really did revolutionise the 4x4 sector with the Range Rover, turning it from a working lool for gentleman farmers into a world-beating luxury machine. And, of course, Range Rover has evolved into a multi-model brand, thanks to the addition of the agile Range Rover Sport, plus the forthcoming 'mini' Range Rover - the Evoque - that's due on sale in 2011.

Who could have predicted way back in 1970 that British Lcyland's new 4x4 would become such a long-lived model - with a whole range of different models on offer? Despile the pressures of the time, Spen King and his team of dedicated designers and engineers certainly knew what they were doing all those years ago... ■

What is a Unichip?

Plug 'n' Play wiring harness with factory connectors.

Multi-processor computer for a new level of engine management

Custom-engineered software for only your engine with your specific performance parts

Adds power to stock & modified engines - up to 30% more power!

Works with a variety of cold air intakes, exhaust systems & other performance components

Dyno-tested and field-tested to ensure maximum reliability over the lifetime of your engine

Crafted to output power more smoothly, eliminating weak areas in the power curve

Safely maximizes engine power output across the entire RPM band

Does not permanently or temporarily alter factory computer software

Custom tunable for custom add-on components for the most power

Invisible installation, No footprint, easily removable

Performance guaranteed to satisfy!

Equal or better fuel mileage - varies by application

No high-octane fuel requirements

Available for most 4x4 vehicles. Costs range from £400-£500.

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