Origin stories: Land Rover

Published July 30, 2020, 6:51 PM

by Inigo Roces

The Land Rover emblem may seem pretty straightforward. But, do you know what the stylized lines forming a “Z” after “Land” and before “Rover” are? They are hyphens. The hyphens were meant to indicate that it was just another kind of Rover, separate from the luxury line many buyers were familiar with at the time.

Back then, Land Rover was owned by the Rover company, which was struggling to sell its luxurious cars after World War II. The company realized that the British buyers needed a vehicle that could serve as both a tractor to till the fields and car to take into town. To quickly come up with a vehicle and design, Maurice Wilks, chief designer of Rover at the time, thought to build a car similar to the Willys Jeep left by the Americans after the war.

The first Land Rovers were made from surplus airplane aluminum alloy that was already painted green. It featured a power take-off to attach agricultural equipment. The idea was a big hit and accounted for a large portion of the Rover company’s sales.

While it was originally intended as a stop-gap model, the Land Rover proved to be so successful that it spawned its own brand and a whole range of rugged SUVs that we know today. It has even outlived its original parent company, Rover.