The Range Rover was a landmark design on many levels. Technically, it was a breakthrough in bringing a level ride comfort to fully off-road capable vehicle that had not been seen before, thanks to its extremely long-travel all-coil suspension; more like something Peugeot would come up with. The other aspect that defined the RR, and undoubtedly contributed to its quarter-century long life span was its timeless and rather elegant boxy but airy body design. Turns out that was just a fluke. And a very happy one. aronline.co.uk has a nice piece on the RR’s development, but here’s what the RR was supposed to look like (not something that would have aged nearly so well):
The RR was going to be much more heavily “styled”, as this of the clay by designer David Bachle shows. The project to create a “Road Rover” actually goes back to the forties, and in the fifties, it came close to production.
But then it was much more of a conventional wagon then, built on Rover’s P5 passenger car platform.That obviously never made it into production.
Rover was re-inspired by what it saw happening in the US, with the 1963 Jeep Wagoneer and the Scout and Bronco. That led to a totally new approach, and an all new chassis, as well as taking advantage of the recently acquired ex-Buick 3.5 L V8.
The boxy version seen at the top was just an engineering mule put together to test the new chassis. But when the Rover folks saw it, they loved it, and turned it into the definitive Range Rover, with a bit of work on its grille. Who needs designers anyway?