Celebrate the Range Rover’s 50th with this rare Camel Trophy footage
Given that the Land Rover Series IIA wasn’t the last word in cruising refinement, the British company decided to create what became the world’s first true luxury SUV, which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. A two-door better suited for road use yet still plenty capable, making it worthy to wear the Land Rover badge. By 1969, disguised as “Velars” due to Land Rover cherry picking letters from the Alvis and Rover brand names, 33 running pre-production cars hit the road all over the globe.
After the first seven prototypes were crashed, the remaining 26 pre-production Velars kept running around Great Britain, only to be launched as the Range Rover line in 1970.
Camel Trophy, the legendary off-road challenge, began a decade later, and in 1980, the teams were using Brazilian-built, Ford-badged Jeep CJ-5s. Land Rover got onboard with its two-door Range Rovers for 1981, and following the massive success of the still German-only Indonesian event, Camel Cigarettes’ parent company decided to invite American, Italian, and Dutch teams to Papua New Guinea in 1982.
With Land Rover mostly focusing on the later Discovery events and no official footage of these early races available, I’m glad to show you this Dutch TV feature, which shows how capable short-wheelbase Range Rovers really were in 1982.
The third and last time the Camel Trophy went with Range Rovers, it was the 1987 TD four-door’s turn in Madagascar.
Today, Land Rover is celebrating the luxury SUV’s 50th anniversary by presenting a 853-feet wide snow art piece by Simon Beck, who created the 570 sq-ft anniversary logo by walking more than 45,000 steps across the steering pad of Land Rover’s Arjeplog winter testing facility, accompanied by a quartet of Range Rover SV models.
Impressive—but not quite as much as completing the 1982 Camel Trophy, trying to catch up with Team Italy’s Casare Geraudo and Giuliano Giongo.