"The early Range Rovers are high point of the SUV format. This is a world where more SUV formatted cars are produced than any single other layout. This is despite the high running costs and increased emissions that have always "
Range Rover Velar
Straight outta 1969: the Range Rover before Range Rover was Range Rover
Wait. Be still your angry keyboard. We know that the Range Rover didn’t have its official launch until June 1970.
What now lies before us on a central London dealership forecourt is a piece of automotive archeology, a motorised missing link from a time just before the true Range Rover epoch.
But in the square practicality of this prototype we can see inscribed many of the conditions that were instrumental to the birth of the ground-breaking brand.
This was the child of a painful era. Wilson’s 1966 re-elected government was on an austerity drive that would have us crying into our cut-price Vin Rouge. The pound was badly devalued, there were curbs on Hire Purchase and we’d just pulled out of the Suez conflict.
For Land Rover this meant a difficult home market and a shaky period for its MoD contracts. Spen King, boss of new vehicle projects at Rover, felt that the smart money was in an upmarket brand that combined Land Rover’s off-road prowess with some on-road luxury.
With the state of the economy and the Land Rover’s export success, he also knew the importance of the overseas market. So easy overseas assembly or CDK (Complete Knockdown Production) informs these early designs with their flat, easy bolt-on plates.
This 1969 prototype is a veteran of desert testing campaigns and, as dealer Graeme Hunt points out, you won’t be getting a ‘mollycoddled…Concours Queen’.
What you would get is a piece of Land Rover’s history – in fact the name Velar means to veil or mask in Spanish.
We say ‘would’ as it is already (unsurprisingly) under offer.
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