Turning 40 years old this month is none other than Land Rover's Range Rover model line. When this four-wheel-drive icon was launched on June 17, 1970, it was a revelation. At that time, most SUVs were utilitarian, purpose-built vehicles that did really well as off-road vehicles, but they were far from being family vehicles.
But because of the Range Rover's creature comforts and aesthetic-driven design, barriers were broken. In a statement, Phil Popham, Land Rover's managing director, said that the "Range Rover is [still] four vehicles in one."
He described the vehicle to be a "luxury motor car, a leisure vehicle that will travel far and wide on the highways and off-road trails of the world, a high-performance car for long distance travel, and a working cross-country vehicle."
The first iteration of the Range Rover reaped so much success that it was in production for 25 years with little change. Many say that the most radical revision had been in 1981 when the four-door model was launched. The second-generation Range Rover, which was launched in 1994, was produced until 2001, when a radical new design, led partly by then-owner BMW, arrived.
That third-generation model remains in production; however, it got several substantial upgrades for 2010, including new V-8 engines, and a revised Terrain Response suspension system. Even as the Range Rover name was initially applied to a single model, Land Rover has worked in recent years to expand the brand.
In particular, the Range Rover Sport line that debuted in 2005 remains as one of Land Rover's most popular models. Later this year, another expansion is expected with a small Ranger Rover, based off the LRX concept, joining the portfolio. The baby Range Rover will be officially launched at the 2010 Paris Motor Show this September.