A lot can happen in 50 years. Communist global superpowers can wither into dissolution, music can morph from a pizza-size record to an entirely digital medium, and an automaker from British Leyland can watch its most significant contribution to the automotive realm trade mud ruts for mall parking spots. The Range Rover turns 50 this year, and Land Rover has announced a highly-limited special edition model to commemorate the classic 4×4’s Golden Jubilee. It will be dubbed the Range Rover Fifty, and just 1970 examples will be made.
When the original Range Rover first broke cover on June 17, 1970, it was the brainchild of Rover Car Company’s engineering chief of new vehicle projects, Charles Spencer King, (who also happened to be the nephew of Land Rover’s founders.) He was searching for a middle ground offering between the on-road behavior of the Rover sedan and the off-road aptitude of the tractor-like Land Rover SUV.
Hailed from the get-go as the original luxury 4×4, the Range Rover has been the delivery vessel for some significant firsts for the automotive industry. In its debut 1970 model year, the Ranger Rover offered the first full-time four-wheel drive system. The following year, Range Rover would lead one of the boldest PR stunts ever by successfully traversing the Darién Gap. The 1989 update was the first 4×4 to feature anti-lock brakes, while the 1992 Range Rover brought about the first 4×4 with electronic traction control, as well as automatic electronic air suspension.
More than that, the 1970 Range Rover set the visual precedent that the brand still adheres to half a century later. The clamshell hood, floating roof, and split tailgate are all staples of the Range Rover visual ethos. That original shape was so desirable that the Range Rover became the first vehicle to be featured in the Louvre art museum in Paris, France, in 1971. Today, early Range Rovers are highly sought after—so much so that we gave it a spot in our 2020 Bull Market List.
Half a century after the original broke cover, the Range Rover Fifty arrives. It’s based on the ultra-luxurious Autobiography trim-level, and will be offered as either the regular- of long-wheelbase variants. Plebeian onlookers, ideally from the driver’s set of a standard Range Rover, will know you are one of the 1970 elite owners thanks to one of four exterior colors—each Fifty will wear Carpathian Grey, Rosello Red, Aruba, or Santorini Black exterior paint.
In true luxury fashion, there’s a level of exclusivity above the standard four-color palette. An extra-limited allotment of the Range Rover Fiftys will fall to the hands of Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) team, who will slather them in 1 of 3 heritage exterior solid paints reproduced from the original Range Rover Palette: Tuscan Blue, Bahama Gold, and Davos White.
Additional exterior trimmings include two unique 22-inch wheel choices, and exterior contrast trim in what Range Rover calls “Auric Atlas.”
Inside, a bevy of “Fifty” badges—designed by Gerry McGovern, OBE, Land Rover’s Chief Creative Officer—adorn every surface you can think of, including the center console, the headrests, the dashboard, and the tread plates in the door sills. Each badge reminds passengers that the vehicle is “1 of 1970” around the world.
North America-bound examples will boast the 518-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 found in other upper-echelon Rovers. Although there are no specifics on pricing yet, you can bet your well-curated record collection that this commemorative luxury off-roader will command a princely six-figure sum. For reference, the cheapest Range Rover Autobiography—upon which the Range Rover Fifty is based—starts north of $130,000.
Range Rover expects to announce pricing and additional specifications later this year, closer to the vehicle’s on-sale date.
Would you rather have the ultra-exclusive Range Rover Fifty, or one of the original 1970 Range Rovers? For our money it would have to be the latter, which has a timeless allure, but a long road-trip in the back of a Fifty sounds pretty outstanding right about now.