1982 Land Rover history
High capacity - Developments begin to speed up on both model ranges
AFTER THE launch of the four-door Range Rover in 1981, it was the turn of the Land Rover in 1982 for improvements under Stage 2 of the investment programme. The most noticeable new model was the High Capacity Pick Up which, with the other improved models, was first shown in April. The rear of this V8 or 4-cylinder 109 was now available in addition to the standard-shaped vehicle as a larger pick up bed with a full width drop down tailgate. The rear tub was a separate aluminium fabrication which, besides being wider, overhung the rear chassis by a few inches. It came as standard with a cab-protecting ladder rack. It was 20 percent bigger in floor area and 45 percent in volume, as it only had small wheelarch intrusions unlike the standard body’s full-length wheel boxes. It had the option of a fully-enclosing canvas tilt. The Hi Cap was available at the normal payload or an even higher one with revised suspension. The vehicle could also benefit from the new trim specification of cloth seats and interior fittings of the new ‘County’ trim package.
Elements of this were available on all models, such as the new shape cloth trimmed seats, but it was the stationwagons which were to get the real makeover. The old basic trim was still available, but the new 88 or 109 wheelbase models were available only in Masai Red or Russet Brown with a broad Limestone band down the side with matching roof and wheels. There were better radial tyres and side repeater indicators and driving lamps with fog and reverse lamps, mud flaps and a spare wheel cover all standard. Inside, the seats were better shaped in the front and cloth-covered throughout. There were better materials on the floor and rooflining. There was also tinted glass fitted to all the windows. They were really a hint of what was coming in the next model, which was a bit of an open secret at the time as the investment in re-engineering was no way economic in the run out of the old model.
At the same time the Range Rover became available with automatic transmission. The vehicle used the Chrysler 727 Torqueflight gearbox bought in from the USA mated to the Rover V8 and an all-new Land Rover-built LT230R two speed transfer box. The main box was a three speed unit with big gaps between gears. It performed well in every area with the exception of fuel economy where you were lucky to get double figures, especially if air-conditioning was used as well.
The new transfer box would, with different ratios, become the standard Land Rover and Range Rover transfer box in the future and so justified the enormous development costs which the sales of this model alone would not justify. The automatic was launched with a second limited edition of the Vogue model. This time it was four door only and in Gold or Silver with wood door cappings and an even better specification interior. The Range Rover ‘In Vogue’ Automatic was the most expensive Range Rover built up to that point. The Land Rover had its chance in a major conflict in this year as well. The Falkland Islands had been invaded by Argentina and the UK embarked on a fierce battle to regain them. A large contingent of Land Rovers of all types was shipped south along with all the other military hardware. They played a major part in the battles but the conditions were appaling which resulted in a lot of old fashioned footwork and helicopter rides to make progress. Airportability was a major asset for vehicle movements.
Back home the major blockbuster ET Steven Spielburg’s Extra-Terrestrial, was on at the cinema. Sales of Land Rover models were down this year but sales of Range Rover increased, so combined figures were not too bad. However, several of the more traditional markets in Africa and the Arab countries started to dry up as the worsening economic situation, with poor exchange rates, made them expensive vehicles to purchase.
Behind the scenes testing was going on with the new range of coil sprung vehicles which would soon be announced as part of Stage 2 of the expansion programme. The visible alterations such as the new pick up body and trim and other less obvious items which had crept onto production vehicles – like the push on one piece door seals – indicated that the new vehicles were to be the most significant thing to happen to the Land Rover since its introduction almost 35 years previously. 1983 would be an interesting year.