Can it really be that this big milk box of a car really is around now since 30 years? Being for many a symbol of luxury and wealth it was for others the ultimate off roader. Sure, cheap it never was. But for a car that missed it's targeted buyer group almost completely it was a raging success. In many ways it's story is analogue to the first Land Rovers built. Both were made for farmers and ended up in a totally different buyer group.
This was the very first prototype made by hand. It already features many of the later lines. Luckily the front and back sides were transformed on later models. It had selectable four wheel drive and a suspension copied on the US Broncos. Handling was not good at all, so the suspension arms were completely redesigned. Also an transfer box with centre differential was found in an older project vehicle and tried out- it was perfect.

Left: Spen King, the man who brought up the idea of a road-going Land Rover in 1966.

Right: Geoff Miller, chief engineer of the "Road Rover" project in front of one of the Darian Gap Ranges.

Below: The official launch was at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1970.

Above: Prototype number 3 at last having the classic lines. It was extensively tested and the Rover board judged good enough to be further developed.

So the first step was accomplished. After this 27 more pre-productions were built. Soon it was decided to send the new cars onto an endurance test through the Sahara, at the same time filming them for publicity

When the testing was over and final modifications agreed the first batch of cars was produced. While 20 cars were used for press testing in June, Geoff Miller set off with another one for a 1500 mile holiday trip to Switzerland- apparently none noticed the unusual car. Journalists were enthuisiastic, just one problem arose: It could only be bought from September 1, 1970 on. Production at that time was 10 cars a week so many dealers couldn't get a car for display. It was the time Rover belonged to British Leyland, the hardest time for the company. Land Rover was almost the only one of the group to make any benefits but they were immediately soaked up by the bottomless pit the british car industry was at that time. So funds were short and for every upgrade Miller and his crew had to fight with the finance department. So no changes were made to the vehicle up to 1980.

Left: The first pre-productions wore the Velar badge, an artificial name meaning "veil-like".

So due to the restricted finances it took 10 years for the Range to climb higher in the luxury car scale and respond to customer wishes. Customers had to wait for 2 years for their new car. Tighter emission laws prevented it from being brought to the american market and there was no money to develop the engine accordingly. Tests with different carbs and timing curves brought the cooling system to its limits as Geoff Miller discovered himself on a test run to Morocco. So the US had to wait until well into the 80's.