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Land Rover Changes Hands

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Land Rover

Land Rover Changes Hands

Ronnie Tanner
April 16, 2009

Perhaps one of the best known off road vehicles, Land Rover has been making four-wheel drive vehicles for over half a century. The name Land Rover at one time referred to a single specific vehicle but now represents a series of models in the Land Rover fold. The all terrain vehicle was introduced on April 30, 1948 at the Amsterdam Motor Show.

The Land Rover was designed by Maurice Wilks on the island of Anglesey in Wales. Wilks was inspired by an American World War II Jeep that he used at his home in Wales so much that he set out to create a similar off road vehicle for the British Car company, Rover. In fact, the original prototype for the first Land Rover was built on a Jeep Chassis.

One of the best features of the about the Land Rover occurred as result of post war steel shortages. The shortage required another material be substituted. That material was an alloy of aluminum and magnesium called Birmabright. Land Rover bodies constructed of this light weight material were rust proof and nearly indestructible. The metal’s resistance to corrosion has contributed to the popularity and longevity of the vehicle. Over 75% of the vehicles ever produced are still in production. Land Rover drivers often refer to other makes of 4x4’s as disposables. Because most of the material was obtained from a post war surplus of aircraft aluminum, the colors of the early models were limited in color to various shades of green.

The engines were extremely simple in design and were created to be serviced in the field. Many advertisements for the vehicle often referred to vehicles being driven many miles on nothing but banana oil. The British Army still requires that the automobiles produced for them retain the simpler 2.5-liter 4 cylinder 300 TDi instead of the electronically controlled 2.5 Liter 5 cylinder TD5 just for the fact that the 300 TDi can be easily serviced in the field.

Ford along with Jaguar has subsequently acquired Land Rover. Some of the models of Jaguar and Land Rover even share components.

By June 2007 Ford Motor Company had decided to sell Land Rover and Jaguar. Several companies expressed interest in the purchase however the sale was delayed until March of 2008. Alchemy Partners, Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra had all showed interest in purchasing the company. In August 2007, the British excavators manufacturer, JCB had been expected to make the purchase, however they were only interested in the Jaguar portion of the deal. Once it was revealed that Ford would only sell Land Rover and Jaguar as a package deal, JCB backed out of the deal.

Tata Motors eventually acquired both Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, in March of 2008. The Land Rover Jaguar division is still based in Solihull West Midlands, England although it is now owned by Tata. Production of the Freelander w has been moved to the Jaguar Car factor at Halewood near Liverpool, a former Ford car plant. The Defender models are assembled in several locations around the world.

Ronnie Tanner is a contributing writer at SW Engines. He writes about purchasing used Land Rover Engines as a cost effective alternative to costly car purchases.

Source:  Amazines.com

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