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Range Rover Classic is Modern Again

Kamil Kaluski September 11, 2017 All Things Hoon 10 Comments

There was something special about the classic Range Rover, now generally and unimaginatively known as the Range Rover Classic. It looked rugged and utilitarian but classy at the same time. At time everyone was into luxury sedans and the Range Rover really was the only vehicle in its class, giving it some extra cachet. But its production, and even the company that was responsible for it, British Layland, is done. 

In the world where Defenders get all the love, the Classic has become somewhat less desired Land Rover. But there are now at least two companies who are betting than there are people who would still love the Classic as long as it performed like new. And these people are willing to pay good money for the classic Classic, too. Much like with Singer Porsches, old is new again as long as it is new old. 

East Coast Defender recently unveiled the plans for one such Classic. They are starting off with a 1995 LWB model and will be using all of their tips and tricks from the Defender on it. They will start with a new Chevy small block and finish with an interior of amazing quality and detail. So far only renderings have been released but expect ECD’s first new Range Rover Classic to be shown sometime in January. 

But JIA beat ECD to the punch with the JIA Chieftain. They took an interesting approach of dropping the Range Rover Classic body on top of a Discovery 3 (LR3 here in the Colonies) chassis. They followed it up with an 556hp engine from the CTS-V which pushed that Rover from 0 to 60mph in 4.5 seconds, or faster than any new Range Rover. In order to have any kind of decent handling the Chiftain was fitted with a rather awkward looking wheels that mimic the original design. Read more about the Chieftain on U.K.’s Autocar

Personally, I love all of these resomodded vehicles as long as they are kept close to the original design ideas and not overdone with tasteless trims and add-ons.

  • Rover 1

    Why do they think it’s necessary to change the indicator/park/tail lights in those sketches? They are a big part in conveying the modernist, chunky functional look of David Bache’s Classic originals. Particularly the way in which they are chamfered in to the side panels so that they can be seen from right around the car. It’s good to see they didn’t see the point on the actual models produced in changing this vital aspect of the car’s appearance

    Note how on this green one the rear taillight is visible from this front angle.
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/45/Range_Rover_%281241369888%29.jpg/800px-Range_Rover_%281241369888%29.jpg
    And the fronts are visible in these two. (Though the later four door has the fragile repeater markers demanded by US legislation. The first things knocked off, offroad)
    https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56e8421ac2ea5108b73fe126/5790b138893fc07c8606ea2b/5790b138f5e23131faa9f925/1469100346157/rangeroverclassic3.jpg
    Note how the original filler cap design allows for easier filling from a jerry can, with included extension.
    http://www.range-rover-classic.com/_/rsrc/1468850938460/Home/land-rover-brochures/range-rover-1970-s/1970%20Range%20Rover%20Tank%20Cap%20Screw%20Off%20Extension%20Tube.jpg

    These details all add up to one of the purest, most well resolved, practical car designs ever made.
    (And still the only car design to have been exhibited at The Louvre in Paris. In 1970, in the form of a 1/3 scale model that’s now at British Motor Heritage in the UK)
    Model as exhibited
    http://www.range-rover-classic.com/_/rsrc/1468880102914/Home/land-rover-brochures/range-rover-1970-s/1971%20Range%20Rover%20Louvre%20Paris%20W.jpg

    • outback_ute

      Plus there was a dedicated space for a second battery under the bonnet, and 99% (I’m guessing) of nuts and bolts were the same size, for ease of repair.

      20″ wheels and low-profile tyres are pretty ridiculous too, as are ‘retro’ lamps that never existed.

      I’ve thought that the original Range Rover would be a good basis for a Singer-style build, but these guys need to study what Singer does (and doesn’t do) a bit more.

    • Monkey10is

      It looks like both models illustrated in the article are based on the second series (1980s, four door, black bumpers, ‘Marina’ door handles etc.) so already has lost a little of the purity of the first Bache/King styled models. I am not sure if the earliest two-door only models were ever exported to the US — so perhaps for the US market this is ‘the classic’?
      (Perhaps the same reason explains the blacked-out pillars; I associate the ‘classic’ RR with the body colour pillars shown in your pictures — all so delicate and well judged that they do not detract from the design and indeed set the D-pillar vent off well — but in the ’80s the vinyl-wrapped D-pillar and blacked out A/B/C pillars was the dominant treatment.)

      The lights though?! That is a strange choice i just cannot explain…

  • cap’n fast

    two expressions of considered thought come to mind when confronted with a Land Rover with +500hp. Hummer II and lipstick on a pig. but, to each his own path.
    with an tactical speed of less than 35mph the chassis is wonderful. really, it’s all is on the driver’s skill set. that level of power in this chassis verges on the suicidal. what do you think it would react like in a low traction situation? visions of automotive pinwheels come to mind. active traction control will be needed if only to keep the slavering lawyers at bay.
    i can only see these projects as a gigantic “tasteless trim and add-ons” exercise. improvement of perfection is a logical impossibility in some people’s eyes. while Range Rovers are certainly not perfect, they are at a minimum, good-for various qualities of “good”. “better” is often the enemy of “good” and an expense of some other quality in the systems being “improved”. think of gold plated brake lines because they would never rust out in your life time. would the expense of gold plated brake lines improve the brakes in any possible functional way??? other than ego and appearances; why bother. it is still and Range Rover looking for a place to fail.

  • Alff

    I would rather just have a lightly restored or well maintained original

  • Borkwagen

    Psst. British Leyland, not Layland.

    • Rover 1

      Actually, with the Range Rover we see the Rover Car Company’s last car design produced, with the accompanying Rover 4000/P8 and P9 being cancelled. British Leyland had nothing to do with it, other than creaming off the profits for years and years to subsidise the losses at the former BMC. It took twelve years to bring out the four door and twenty five years for a replacement.