Celebrating what keeps a brand special, Land Rover style
Looking to the past, companies can - in theory - remain true to their original ethos, helping re-invent themselves or learn from mistakes. Brands with tumultuous pasts like Aston Martin and watch brand Blancpain are testaments to learning from mistakes, coming back from near extinction and being crowned one of the coolest brands. Off the back of the Range Rover Velar launch at the London Design Museum in March, Jaguar Land Rover recently opened an exhibit at its Solihull facility celebrating the model name. Jaguar Land Rover aren't the only brands celebrating historical milestones of course, with the likes of Ferrari having released 70 race liveries showcased on 350 cars for its 70th and TVR are set to reveal a new car at the Goodwood Revival in celebration of its 70th anniversary.
Velar was the code name for the original Range Rover, and picked to shroud the project in mystery. Entering a building near Final Assembly, you are transported back to the swinging 60s; images abound of British culture including the iconic photo of Bobby Moore kissing the World Cup, major social reforms and rising consumerism, including car buying. Research into car buying habits showed that the public wanted sports utility vehicles. Alongside that, a lone spring stood proudly in the corner all because of a man named Charles Spencer King or 'Spenny' as he is known. He changed the way suspension is used in SUVs, switching out leaf springs to coilovers.
Ushered to the next room, there is a sense of pride in the Velar project from notebooks used by the original engineers to the recreation of a cutaway Range Rover sitting in front of a snowy backdrop. This luxury SUV included disc brakes, a self-levelling suspension unit, a collapsible steering wheel and a double C-section chassis versus a traditional ladder chassis. Even the code name Velar, destined to create a veil over the eyes of rival manufacturers, was crafted from leftover Rover lettering.
One thing that remained the same throughout the design process from the 60s to today is clay. Designers create two clay designs of a full-size model for senior management to analyse and pick a favourite to go into production. Most of those features have been a constant through the generations of Range Rovers - a split tailgate, floating roof and the castellated bonnet.
From there, product placement was the perfect way of preparing the masses for what was to come. If you were a Sindy fan, you may remember she got her very own Range Rover and when it featured as a backdrop in Vogue for a fashion shoot. From there, the Vogue edition became a regular production model in 1984.
Jaguar Land Rover is not only celebrating the model line but also the people who created and supported the project by including a tour around the final assembly lines showing how both the Range Rover Velar, Range Rover Sport and Jaguar F-Pace are put together ahead of customer delivery. If you are collecting one of those cars soon, the Velar journey is well worth a visit.