From Velar to… Velar. Solihull exhibition reveals the whole Range Rover story
The whole history of the Range Rover, through its inception, all its generations and more than 50 years, is being celebrated in a new exhibition at the Jaguar Land Rover Solihull factory. To run for three years, it opens just as the new Range Rover Velar is launched and tours of its manufacturing facility begin. It coincides, too, with the closure of the Defender Celebration line.
The story begins with a clay model of the car originally known as Velar, to disguise its identity during development. Visitors can try their hands at sculpting their own small-scale clay models as part of the exhibition’s interactive element. Also on show is one of the three rolling chassis, this one restored, that were used for development testing.
As well as the main evolutionary line of four Range Rover generations, the display covers the Range Rover Sport and Evoque – plus, of course, the new Velar. There are prototype components, styling models, archive photography and more, providing the social and political backdrop to the Range Rover’s history under various owners.
Roger Crathorne, the best-known ‘face of Land Rover’, has of course seen it all.
‘At the time I began my career in 1967 as a technical assistant on the Velar team, the intention was never to build a luxury vehicle,’ he said at the exhibition’s opening. ‘Over the 50 years since, the Range Rover has come a long way. We wanted to develop a more comfortable on-road Land Rover that would combine the comfort of the Rover with the Land Rover’s 4x4 capability, to support a growing leisure market.’ They were not wrong.
Words: John Simister