Looking for an alternative "air" to your car? Try the British air, courtesy of the Land Rover. Maker of the highly popular Defender, Land Rover had made its name in manufacturing rugged sports utility vehicles.
Originally a name for an all-terrain vehicle made in the late 1940s, the marquee Land Rover had lent its name to the company as well. Now, it is known as a topnotch manufacturer of four-wheel drives, oftentimes made to suit different functions ranging from military, scientific to civil recreational use.
The first ever Land Rover debuted in 1947 in the Amsterdam Motor Show. Designed by Maurice Wilks, the Series 1 was inspired by the American military jeep that Wilks had used in his farm one summer holiday. The Land Rover used a jeep chassis and featured "center steer." The Land Rover parts and its distinct body were made from an aluminum and magnesium alloy called "Birmabright", which was lightweight and rustproof. The alloy's resistance to corrosion became its selling point, as the vehicle's body could survive extreme conditions. The Land Rover came out in a light shade of green, due to the fact that most of the supplies used was military surplus.
One of the most popular uses for Land Rovers is for military use. The British Army maintains a fleet of Series and Defenders for their use. Mostly, it involves slowly modifying the civil Land Rover for military use, although sometimes a military version is made by the company. Modifications include 24 volt electrics, convoy lights, electronic suppression of the ignition system, blackout curtains and mounts for special equipment and small arms. Military use is restricted to being a light utility vehicle, communications platform, weapon platform for rifles, TOWs or machine guns, ambulances and workshops. The military use of the Land Rover has come out in two versions: 1. the 101 Forward Control, and 2. The Lightweight or Airportable, which is light enough to be transported by a helicopter.
A famous example of Land Rovers in military use is the British Army's "Pink Panthers." Modified for desert use, the Pink Panthers were painted pink, hence the name. It was for reconnaissance work and was fitted with a sun compass, machine guns, larger fuel tanks and smoke dischargers.
Also, Land Rovers are popular vehicles for field scientists. Many scientific expeditions, especially in Africa, have Land Rovers as field vehicles.
One distinct factor why the Land Rover is popular among military and field scientific use is its superior off-road performance. The short wheelbase of the Land Rover is capable of going up in gradients of up to 45 degrees; approach and depart angles of 50 and 53 degrees, respectively; and a ramp break-over angle of up to 155 degrees. A typical feature for all Land Rovers is that they have exceptional axle articulation (the degree to which the wheels have vertical travel, with high amounts allowing them to maintain contact (and trafficking) with the ground over uneven spaces). Right now, it is pegged at 7 inches at the front axle and 8.25 inches for the rear axles.
Looking for the British flair? Try out the Land Rover and experience British innovation.