FROM its humble beginnings as an off-road vehicle to the luxurious global brand it is known as today, Range Rover’s story is being told at its Solihull home.
For the past 50 the Jaguar Land Rover brand has grown from strength to strength and no where else can this be seen but at the Lode Lane plant which is constantly expanding.
However, there’s more to the story than meets the eye with secret prototypes, the creation of the sought after Sindy Car and the model’s latest revamp – all of which are on display at the interactive visitor attraction.
Observer Deputy Editor Sarah Mason and Chief Photographer Jon Mullis had a sneaky look at the exhibition before it opened to the public.
“The original aim was never to build a luxury vehicle.
“We wanted to develop a more comfortable on-road Land Rover that would combine the comfort of the Rover with the Land Rover 4×4 capability to support a growing leisure market.”
Those are the words of Roger Crathorne, a worker at the firm for 50 years, who played a part on the first secret prototype ‘Velar’ in 1967.
He as well as a team of JLR employees have bought all their knowledge together from across the years in a bid to tell as much of the Land Rover story in fine detail as they can.
Their stories, which will be told at Lode Lane for the next three years, takes visitors on a time-travelling voyage from the vehicle’s beginnings in the mid-1960s, through to adaptations of the Range Rover to the introduction of the luxury brand with the Range Rover Vogue.
It also explains how a car is developed from an idea on a page to reality over the years and gives visitors a chance to get hands on with a scale clay model.
David Hopwood, a current designer at the Gaydon plant of JLR and Graham Silvers, a former engineering manager, were on hand to explain how styling of vehicles is very similar 50 years on.
David said: “Over the years designing a vehicle has remained very similar in there are no boundaries in the initial stages – its only when engineering and legal requirements come into play that ideas are reigned in.
“Today we do use computer technology to look at ideas but there is nothing better than making a clay model of the vehicle.
“We get a full-scale aluminium frame, it used to be wood, and cover it with clay and start modelling.
“Clay lets us see the vehicle as it would appear and gives us the chance to see what works and what doesn’t.”
The exhibition ends with an exciting unveil of the latest Range Rover vehicle, the Velar – specially chosen to mirror the heritage of the brand.
The new Velar, which is set to be exclusively built at Lode Lane, has been four years in the making with an expert team at Gaydon who have worked tirelessly to make sure it will be well placed in the Jaguar Land Rover history.
The Velar, which has a £45,000 price tag, is expected to go on sale in the summer.