Gaydon, 30 April 2008 –  60 years ago today, a motoring icon made its public debut, when the original Land Rover was shown at a motor show in Amsterdam, on April 30, 1948.  The current Defender is clearly descended from that first vehicle, now known as a Series 1.  Extraordinarily, they even share a couple of original parts, an oil filler plug and a cleat for tying down the canvas roof.  But the rest of the vehicle technology has moved on considerably.

Today, Land Rover goes from strength-to-strength, with a five-model line-up headed by the Range Rover, and record global sales of over 226,000 vehicles in 2007.

The company recently received an early birthday present, in the form of two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. The first, for ‘International Trade’, was given in recognition of export sales of nearly £4 billion per annum to 147 countries, with markets such as China and Russia driving major growth. The second, for ‘Innovation’, was awarded for Land Rover’s acclaimed Terrain Response system.

At the twist of a knob, this sets up the vehicle’s engine response and traction systems to maximise performance on all terrains – the electronic equivalent of having an expert instructor alongside the driver.

Around the world, Land Rover will be celebrating its 60th anniversary year throughout the summer with a series of special activities and events

Success Story

Land Rover is an outstanding British engineering and manufacturing success story. Its manufacturing plants at Solihull (near Birmingham) and Halewood (near Liverpool) and its R&D facilities in the English Midlands, employ a workforce of 8,500 – and the company helps support an estimated further 40,000 jobs through automotive suppliers.

Since the first Series I model rolled off the production line at Solihull, the vehicles created by Land Rover have defined the 4×4 market.  In 1970, the company introduced what’s been called the most significant 4×4 vehicle ever, the Range Rover – the first 4×4 to be equally capable on-road as off-road.  Now, alongside the Range Rover and Defender, sit the Discovery 3 (LR3 in some markets), Freelander 2 (LR2) and Range Rover Sport.

Land Rover’s spirit of adventure has been evident from the earliest days.  Adventurers, farmers, scientists, naturalists, and outdoor sport enthusiasts have all used Land Rovers’ capability to access some of the world’s most inhospitable regions.  For 60 years, the company’s vehicles have also worked for a multitude of humanitarian and conservation organisations, represented today by Land Rover’s formal ties with the Born Free Foundation, Biosphere, Earthwatch, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and the China Exploration and Research Society.

Phil Popham, Land Rover’s Managing Director, commented, “Land Rover’s history is a long and illustrious one – and the future is just as exciting.  We are committed to maintaining our relevance and meeting the needs of our customers in a changing global environment. Earlier this year, we unveiled a glimpse into our possible future – the diesel hybrid LRX cross-coupe concept.  This signals that Land Rover will continue to evolve, with capability, premium values and sustainable motoring at the top of the agenda.”


  • 1948 LAND ROVER SERIES I The iconic British 4×4 makes its debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show
  • 1949 ARMY EDITION British Army orders its first Land Rovers
  • 1953  Long-wheelbase version introduced
  • 1966  500,000th Land Rover
  • 1970 RANGE ROVER Land Rover’s versatile model launched in two-door format
  • 1976  Millionth Land Rover built in June
  • 1982  Four-door Range Rover introduced
  • 1989 DISCOVERY Third Land Rover model launched
  • 1990 DEFENDER Original ‘Land Rover’ relaunched and renamed
  • 1995  Land Rover production tops 100,000 per annum
  • 1997 FREELANDER Land Rover’s fourth model launched
  • 2002 3RD GENERATION RANGE ROVER All-new Range Rover makes its debut
  • 2004 DISCOVERY 3/LR3 Latest generation Discovery launched
  • 2005 RANGE ROVER SPORT   Popular sports tourer goes on sale
  • 2006   Land Rover announces ground-breaking CO2 offset scheme
  • 2006 FREELANDER2/LR2  New model begins production at Halewood plant
  • 2007  Record sales of 226,000 vehicles
  • 2008 LAND ROVER LRX LRX concept signals the possible future of Land Rover