Range Rover Classic

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Range Rover Classic
ManufacturerLand Rover
Parent companyRover 1970-1994
BMW 1994-2000
SuccessorRange Rover "P38A"
Classsport utility vehicle (SUV)
Engine(s)3528 cc, 3947 cc, and 4197 cc Rover V8
2393 cc and 2499 cc I4 VM diesel
2495 cc 200TDi turbo-diesel
2495 cc 300TDi turbo-diesel
Transmission(s)Four- or five-speed manual
3- or 4-speed automatic
Permanent 4WD on all variants
Wheelbase2743 mm (108 in) (UK-specification LSE/US County LWB)
2540 mm (100 in) (all others)
Width1780 mm (70.1 in)
Height1800 mm (70.9 in) (1970-1980)
1780 mm (70.1 in) (1980 onwards)
RelatedLand Rover Discovery
DesignerDavid Bache
ManualsService Manual

The Range Rover Classic is an off-road vehicle that was built by British car maker Land Rover from 1970 to 1996. It was the first generation of vehicles produced under the Range Rover name. For most of its history, it was known simply as the "Range Rover"; Land Rover coined the term "Range Rover Classic" for the brief period they built them alongside their P38A successors, and applied the name retroactively to all first-generation Range Rovers.[1]


Like other Land Rover vehicles, most of the Range Rover's bodywork skin is constructed from lightweight aluminium, save for the two-section rear tailgate, and the bonnet on all but the earliest models. Apart from minor cosmetic changes,[2][3][4] the body design changed very little in its first decade.

One of the first significant changes came in 1981, with the introduction of a four-door body.[5] Until then, Range Rovers only had two doors, making access to the rear seats rather awkward. These doors were also very large and heavy. The four-door version was received well by the public; its popularity being such that the two-door was discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1984,[6] although the two-door continued to be produced to the end, mainly for the French market.[7] The front end of the Range Rover was revamped in 1986. This brought a more pedestrian-friendly plastic grille with horizontal slats, and front skirts with two driving lights.

Chassis and suspension

The Range Rover broke from the Land Rovers of its time by using coil springs instead of the then-common leaf springs. Because of its hefty weight, it also had disc brakes on all four wheels. Originally, it had no power steering, though this was added a few years after its introduction.[5]

One problem with the Range Rover chassis was that it suffered considerably from body roll. Because of this, the suspension was lowered by 20 mm (0.8 in) in 1980 [8], and later gained anti-roll bars.[9] Air suspension was introduced in 1992 for high-end models.[5]

Most Range Rovers had a 100-inch wheelbase. However, 1992 saw the introduction of a more luxurious model, branded the LSE in the United Kingdom and County LWB in the United States competing with the Lamborghini LM002. These had a 108 inch (2743 mm) wheelbase and 4.2 L engines.[10]

The 100-inch Range Rover chassis became the basis for the Land Rover Discovery, introduced in 1989.

The first generation Range Rover, early 2-door model.
The post-facelift Range Rover (LWB), such as this early 1990s four-door example, had front skirts and a grille with horizontal slats.


Originally, the Range Rover was fitted with a detuned 135 hp (101 kW) version of the Buick-derived Rover V8 engine. The 3.5 litre (3528 cc) engine was bored out to a displacement of 3.9 litres (3947 cc) for the 1990 model year,[8] and 4.2 litres (4197 cc) in 1992.

Petrol-fuelled Range Rovers were fitted with carburetors until 1986, when they were replaced by Lucas electronic fuel injection,[8] improving both performance and fuel economy. Some export markets retained carburetors, with the original Zenith/Stromberg manufactured units being replaced by Skinners Union (SU)-manufactured items.

From 1979 onwards, Land Rover collaborated with Perkins on Project Iceberg, an effort to develop a diesel version of the Range Rover's 3.5-litre V8 engine.[11] Both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged versions were built, but the all-alloy engine blocks failed under the much greater pressures involved in diesel operation. The project was, therefore, abandoned. The effort to strengthen the Rover V8 for diesel operation was not, however, completely wasted; the 4.2-litre petrol variant of the engine used crankshaft castings developed in the Iceberg project.[12]

Because of the Iceberg failure, it was not until 1986 that Range Rovers gained diesel engines from the factory. The more efficient 2.4 litre (2393 cc) VM diesel from Italy was made available as an option for the heavily-taxed European market,[5] and were bored out to 2.5 litres (2499 cc) in 1989.[9] These were replaced by Land Rover's own 200TDi turbocharged diesel engine in 1992.[5] and 300TDi at the end of 1994.


The Range Rover used permanent four-wheel drive, rather than the switchable rear-wheel/four-wheel drive on Land Rover's Series vehicles, and had a lever for switching ratios on the transfer box for off-road use. Originally, the only gearbox available was a four-speed manual unit (with an optional Fairey overdrive after 1977). A three-speed Chrysler automatic gearbox became an option in 1982, which was upgraded to a 4-speed ZF box in 1985, coupled to an LT230 transfer box.[8] The other major transmission upgrade in the Range Rover's lifetime was the switch from the LT95 combined four-speed manual gearbox and transfer box to the LT77 five-speed gearbox and separate LT230 transfer box in 1983.

Off road, and on

In June 1970, the Range Rover was introduced to the public, to much critical acclaim. It appeared that Rover had succeeded in their goal of a car equally capable both on and off road -- arguably, better than any four-wheel drive vehicle of its era in both environments. Road performance (a top speed of 95 mph (153 km/h) and acceleration from a standstill to 60 mph (97 km/h) in less than 15 seconds) was said to be better than many family saloon cars of its era,[13] and off-road performance was good, owing to its long suspension travel and high ground clearance. The 1995 Classic Range Rovers can run a 0-60 time of around 11 seconds, and they top out at approximately 110 mph.

Notable off-road feats were winning the 4-wheel drive class in the first Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979 and 1981,[14], and being two of the first vehicles (along with a Series IIA) to traverse both American continents north-to-south through the Darién Gap from 1971–1972.[15]

Modified 1992 Range Rover created for the rocks of Colorado and slickrock of Moab, Utah.

Special Range Rovers

The "In Vogue", a more luxurious special edition of the Range Rover, was produced in 1983. This went into full-fledged production as the Vogue.

In 1990 a special 20th anniversary edition of the Range Rover was created -- the Range Rover CSK (CSK being the initials of the original designer, Charles Spencer King). Only 200 CSKs were ever made, all of which were two-door vehicles, and are now highly sought after vehicles. For a while, Spen King owned number 200, but this has since been sold on.[16]

One of Pope John Paul II's popemobiles, used on his visit to Scotland in 1982, was a Range Rover and truck hybrid built by British Leyland. The vehicle weighed 24 tons, and was said to be both bullet- and bomb-resistant. It sold at auction in 2006 for £37,500.[17][18]


  1. Official Land Rover documentation collections for both 1970-1985 (LHP1, v1.1) and 1986-1994 (LHP2, v1.1) Range Rovers, for example, refers to the vehicles as "Range Rover Classic", despite never being called that when they were originally built.
  2. "Land Rover History 1973". Land Rover Monthly. http://www.lrm.co.uk/archive/history/1973/1973.html. Retrieved on 2007-01-21.  "The back end got vinyl covering on the rear quarter panels and there was the option of a rear window wash and wipe. Inside, the front seats had an extra handle to allow them to be tipped from outside more easily, and the blanked out holes in the dash now had the option of extra gauges."
  3. "Land Rover History 1977". Land Rover Monthly. http://www.lrm.co.uk/archive/history/1977/1977.html. Retrieved on 2007-01-21. 
  4. "Land Rover History 1979". Land Rover Monthly. http://www.lrm.co.uk/archive/history/1979/1979.html. Retrieved on 2007-01-21.  The changes were wing repeater lamps, new decals, black-painted bumpers & mirrors, and a better-looking steering wheel.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Allison, L. (1994). "Range Rover I (1970-1995)". http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~lloyd/4/LandRover/Range-Rover/. Retrieved on 2006-03-16. 
  6. Smith, Benjamin. "How to Identify A Range Rover". Land Rover FAQ. http://www.lrfaq.org/FAQ.2.Ident.RR.html. Retrieved on 2006-11-01. 
  7. Cutting, Andrew. "Buying a Range Rover Classic model year 1984-1995". Land Rover Monthly. http://www.lrm.co.uk/archive/Range%20Rover/buyingrangerover.html. Retrieved on 2006-11-01. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Methuen, P; I M Coomber. Range Rover Service and Repair Manual. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85960-274-4. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 In 1989. See "Land Rover History 1989". Land Rover Monthly. http://www.lrm.co.uk/archive/history/1989/1989.htm. Retrieved on 2007-03-20. 
  10. Ford Motor Company. "Land Rover North American Historical Landmarks". http://media.ford.com/newsroom/release_display.cfm?release=24650. Retrieved on 2006-12-05. 
  11. "Land Rover History 1984". Land Rover Monthly. http://www.lrm.co.uk/archive/history/1984/1984.htm. Retrieved on 2006-10-26.  Photos of the engine available from bobuilt.co.uk
  12. As did the 4.45-litre Rover V8 engine for the TVR Tuscan. See Hammill, Des (2004). How to Power Tune Rover V8 Engines for Road and Track. Veloce Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 1-903-706-173. 
  13. "Range Rover Road Test". Autocar. November 1970. http://www.autocar.co.uk/CarReviews/RoadTestsOnTheRoad/Land-Rover-Range-Rover-3.5-V8/200104/. "...and the 19.1sec time for the standing quarter mile is much better than many more lithesome saloons can manage, and only 1.2sec slower than the Rover 3500." 
  14. MotorSports Etc.. "Dakar Rally Winners (Car Category)". http://www.motorsportsetc.com/champs/dakar_a.htm. Retrieved on 2006-10-26. 
  15. 4WD Internet Magazine. "Darien Gap 4x4". http://www.4wdonline.com/Places/CentralAmerica/Darien.html. Retrieved on 2006-03-24. 
  16. See rangerovercsk.com for more on these rare vehicles. Retrieved on 2006-12-19.
  17. "Popemobile for sale - one careful owner". Scotsman.com. 2006-08-21. http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=297&id=1230142006. Retrieved on 4 April 2007. 
  18. "Bidding brisk as Popemobile sold". BBC News. 2006-10-02. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5309454.stm. Retrieved on 4 April 2007. 

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