In 1948, on the Isle of Anglesey, the first prototype Land Rover was put through its paces. It was a utilitarian four wheel-drive vehicle, designed for farmers, who could use it for a multitude of purposes. The vehicle, made to be simple and rugged, had an aluminium alloy body with a steel chassis. Intended as a simple stopgap for Rover, while post-war car production restarted, the Land Rover has proved to be an enduring British icon, advertised as the 'best 4x4 x far'. Infinitely flexible, Land Rovers have appeared in short, medium and long wheelbase variants, with a host of body styles and conversions to everything from six-wheeled fire engines to motor homes. Over sixty years after the prototype was built, the Land Rover of today still resembles the original - although creature comforts may be more evident on the current Defender. Whatever form it takes, the Land Rover is still one of the few vehicles that can be found on every continent of the world, and well over 50 per cent of all Land Rovers made are still in daily use. From the Outback to the Sahara, from the plains of America to the mountains of Norway, from the savanna of Africa to the jungles of Borneo, Land Rovers are still the best 4x4 x far.
John Christopher is an established author and a balloon pilot, specialising in engineering subjects. His books include Paddington Station Through Time and Isambard Kingdom Brunel Through Time both for Amberley. He lives in Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire.
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