The original Range Rover was a brilliant piece of work, and its influence cannot be overstated. It was the first SUV designed to be truly comfortable and luxurious, targeted to buyers who were affluent. And that soon spilled over into an endless raft of SUVs from all over the globe that picked up the baton and created the largest vehicle category.
Don Andreina’s equally brilliant deep dive into the Range Rover’s origins, design and profound impact is one of the finest posts we’ve ever been privileged to publish here, and I encourage you to re-read it. But I have a minor nit to pick with the original 100″ wheelbase wagon: the wheelbase is about 4-5″ inches too short, giving the RR a decidedly rear-heavy look.
I was bowled over when I first saw pictures of the RR in 1969. It was simply unlike anything had ever done in terms of a highly off-road capable SUV: stylistically, packaging, the superb visibility, the remarkably comfortable long-travel coil suspension, and its superb off-road capabilities. The grille was the crowning touch: perfect.
A very good friend of ours bought a used early-US import four door, in red like this. She had just bought 160 acres of steep hills near Half Moon Bay, and was building a house up there. The RR was put to good use, and I drove it a couple of times, both on her land and on the road. What a revelation.
We owned a 1985 Cherokee at the time, which was of course considerably influenced by the RR, including its coils spring solid front end (Jeep cheaped out and put leafs on the back). The RR was significantly more comfortable, in terms of its ride, but those soft coils did make themselves felt on the winding paved back roads leading to her property: it did wallow a bit, but one got used to that. The Citroen of SUVs.
Of course she had issues with it. And that eventually led to it being replaced with a Toyota Tacoma 4×4 as the work truck. The two were like day and night, and not just in terms of reliability. The swb gen1 Tacoma 4×4 rode like an old Jeep, precisely the kind of vehicle the RR was intended to replace.
The ultimate RR article:
CC 1977 Range Rover: Success At Face Value D. Andreina