Initially an offshoot of the Rover Company, the original Land Rover design started in 1947, spearheaded by Maurice Wilks, chief designer at Rover. Many people speculate that the first designs were influenced by the Willys MB and Ford GPW (informally called “Jeeps”) of the American army, but there is very little evidence of plagiarism beyond the first prototypes.
Partly due to the post-war “make do and mend” ethos, all early-model Land Rovers were characterised by sturdy boxy designs and iconic green military surplus paint. Early Land Rovers like the Series I were field-tested at Long Bennington and designed to be field-serviced, often carrying extra Land Rover tyres on the bonnet or boot.
Despite the wide-spread success of the Land Rover line – especially with the British Military and outdoorsmen – it was considered merely a product line of the Rover Company until 1978. After the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BL) absorbed the Rover Company, it was considered a separate company, but was still under the BL umbrella. However, BMW acquired Land Rover in 1994 and later sold it to the Ford Motor Company in 2000, becoming part of its Premier Automotive Group.
Prioritising cash flow over putting Land Rover tyres on British (or other country’s) soil, Ford sold Land Rover and Jaguar Cars to Tata Motors of India in 2008, effectively saying “tata” to the legendary British brand. It was around this time that Land Rover cars stopped being serious British off-roaders and started being oversized plastic SUVs, more often driven by footballer’s wives than respectable outdoorsmen.
Still, keep a stiff upper lip, and make sure to get your Land Rover tyres muddy every now and then, there’s a good chap. If you own a classic Land Rover, you can probably pick the right tyre by scent alone, or hike home in the rare scenario that your Land Rover breaks down. If you own the newest model of Land Rover, go for the most expensive one. Trust us – it’s the best! As born and bred 4x4s, it would be an insult to go with anything other than off-road tyres, but if you’re only using it on the school run, summer tyres will do fine.