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by Patrick Cruywagen, 14th March 2017

Bill Baker, who played a key role in Land Rover’s successful return to the American market in 1986, died aged 72 on February 16 from cancer at his home near Laguna Niguel, California.

His road tests, which aired in Cleveland during the early 1970s, caught the attention of Ford who offered Bill a job on its broadcast media relations team. Two years later, he moved to Volvo, before holding management positions at Fiat-Lancia and Ferrari and later working for Chrysler. It wasn’t until 1986 however, when he became the first American employee of Land Rover of North America in 1986. He was given a small budget to promote the Range Rover, which at that time very few Americans had ever heard of. This new vehicle and brand, was also creating a new segment – the luxury SUV, and it ignited a spark of creativity and passion in Bill. His idea of hosting extreme driving expeditions across the globe for automotive journalists, which would be essential to proving the Range Rover’s off-road ability, defined the brand in North America according to Stuart Schorr, vice president of communications and public affairs for Land Rover’s US operations: “Everything we do today is informed by the vision and hard work of those Land Rover pioneers such as Bill Baker.” Baker went into semi retirement from Land Rover in 2003.

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