Land Rover was the name of one of the first civilian all-terrain utility vehicles, first produced by Rover in 1947. Eventually, the Land Rover division was split off from Rover, and produced an expanding range of four-wheel-drive vehicles under a succession of owners, including British Leyland, British Aerospace, BMW, and, from 2000, Ford. Land Rovers are manufactured in Solihull, England (near Birmingham) and exported around the world.
The first Land Rover was designed in 1947 by Maurice Wilkes as a farm vehicle, based on Willys Jeeps he had seen in action in World War II. Then and since, their most distinctive feature has been their bodies, constructed of a lightweight proprietary alloy of aluminium and magnesium called Birmabright (being rustproof, this contributes to the vehicle's longevity); most feature sturdy ladder-frame chassis. The vehicles are designed (or some would say feature brilliant lack of design) to allow them to be field-serviced. For instance, ads for Rovers have bragged about vehicles driven thousands of miles on banana oil.
Land Rovers, particularly the commercial and military models, became ubiquitous throughout rural areas and the developing world, at least partly because of their mechanical indestructibility (which was matched, some say, by the legendary unreliability of British-made electrical components). According to some estimates, 80% of all Land Rovers manufactured (since 1947) are still in use; and Land Rover was once said to have been the first vehicle seen by some 20% of the world's population. The Land Rover featured in The Gods Must Be Crazy ("The Antichrist") illustrates the love-hate relationship many owners feel with the early series vehicles.
Rhinos are often associated with Land Rovers (both of which are quite common in Africa) - specifically Rovers being "charged" or attacked by rhinos. It is said that rhinos charge Rovers, not because they're angry, but because they're trying to mate (This may be apocryphal, although the vehicles are nearly the right size, and Rhinos have very bad eyesight)!
Land Rovers are popular in the Paris Dakar Rally as well as the vehicle used for the Camel Trophy. They are also used by military forces worldwide.
In the United States, Land Rovers have a reputation as overpriced "yuppie" toys, since most are never used off-road; however there are also enthusiasts and clubs that take the vehicle to its limits.
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At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, Land Rover introduced its first concept: the Range Stormer (Gritzinger, 2004).