by Nick Hull
2019 review by Anders Ditlev Clausager
Nick is a designer formerly with Jaguar and now teaching at Coventry University. He is fast becoming our leading car design historian. This is his third title; after Jaguar and Ford, he has now reached Land Rover. Feel free to ask, what has Land Rover got to do with design? – since the original vehicle from 1948 was starkly functional. However, design is not just about styling, and right from the start the engineering of the Land Rover was presumably the result of a logical thought process.
The author begins with the legend that Maurice Wilks used his walking stick to sketch an outline in the sand on an Anglesey beach. Then in 1953, a young David Bache arrived fresh from having learnt his craft in the styling studio at Austin, and was to spend 28 years in charge of Rover design. While most of his early work was on cars – P5, P6 and then SD1 – he was also responsible for updating the Land Rover. He was not however greatly involved with the Range Rover, which in so many ways was the most important design to come out of Solihull, and which was the work of Spen King and Geoff Crompton.
The book carries the story on to the present, through the move of design from Solihull eventually to Gaydon, now headed up by Gerry McGovern, who made his mark with the MGF and then with the first Freelander. The history of design of other recent models is covered in detail, including Discovery, Evoque, and Velar. There are I guess some heavy hints about the new Land Rover Defender which makes its debut this autumn.
Much of the interest in the book is in the oddballs and prototypes which never saw light of day, going back to the Road Rover of the 1950s, even if some of these are familiar from other books. On the other hand, I am sorry that it is not a full study also of the car designs by Rover and Rover Group, until Land Rover and the car business were split in 2000, but one is mindful of the company politics. The author has had to work within the limitations of such archive material as is available, many early photos have come from private rather than company sources, and there are not many early styling sketches! But illustrations are otherwise plentiful, and the design and quality of production very good. There is an index, but no references or bibliography.
Publisher: Veloce, veloce.co.uk
Price: £50. Available from Amazon at the discounted price of £32.50.
Description: Hardback with dustjacket (260 x 260 mm), 240 pages, illustrations in colour and black and white.