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Land Rover Prototypes

Of course it all began with the centre steer prototype, way back in the late 1940s, an continues to this day with Project Icon.

Centre steer replica

Pictured above is a replica of the original centre steer prototype and below the Defender Concept 100 vehicles. Many more have been listed on these pages, the entries now expanded where possible and linked to their respective production models where appropriate. They are gathered for your convenience in the menu on the left. There are still more prototypes and concepts to explore, and where possible I will include information and images as and when. If you can help, please do.

Land Rover Project Icon Concepts: DC100 and DC100 Sport

Derivatives of these designs could become the new Defender model.

Dave Kennedy Wrote:

I worked at LR in the nineties as a chassis design and development engineer, and it seems that there could be a category of prototype vehicle that is completely missing, and will probably be very difficult to get any pictures of - which is a real shame as they were cracking vehicles.

Chassis engineering needed to start test and development work long before the first full pre production prototypes were ready, also some of the extreme abuse work that new chassis systems had to go through was too rough for a fragile prototype, so for programmes with big chassis changes like P38A and Freelander, they built 'chassis simulators'. For P38A the sims were stretched Range Rover Classic bodyshells grafted onto the P38A chassis. They differed from the LSE classic by having a stretched BC post rather than the stretched rear door of the LSE version. They were all I think painted matt army green with base cloth interiors. The two vehicles I was involved with Sim 53 and 54 had 4.2 engines built by JE Racing to try and simulate the expected power output of a planned supercharged V8 that sadly never made production.

When the Gaydon collection was being put together we did suggest that one of the simulators should be saved but to the best of my knowledge they were all destroyed. They were used for chassis abuse testing, and brakes and traction control development, handling and tyre work that I know of, but I'm sure that other areas used them as well. The other vehicle that is interesting is the CB40 simulators, these were used for developing the chassis and power train for the Freelander, basically they were Freelander mechanicals grafted into modified Austin Maestro van bodyshells - picture a jacked up Maestro van with Freelander wheels, They looked hmm interesting but allowed the CB40 chassis and powertrain to go out on extended mileage long before the program was announced.

I don't know if you'll be able to get any pictures of these unusual vehicles but they are an interesting and unusual little slice of LR history.

CB40 Test mule

No P38a mule pics yet, but this Freelander chassis test vehicle is looked after by the Dunsfold Collection.

Emma-Claire Dunning Wrote:

I have worked at Land Rover and associated companies for 20 years (still do). I also worked at Land Rover Classic Parts, the ill-fated classic parts supply venture between LR and Unipart.

I have a little bit of info about some prototype Land Rovers I have come across and/or worked on over the years...

Firstly "Challenger". I had the pleasure of driving one of the three prototypes. One was used for crash-testing. One was used to showcase the military guise (this one is preserved at Dunsfold and on the site). The third car was the one I drove, and was painted a mid-blue colour, one of LR's standard Defender/Disco colours, and was shown in civilian form as a proposed updated concept for Defender. Basically to update the vehicle with better NVH, ergonomics, drag (sloping windscreen), luxury (electric windows), etc... it was proposed to use the front cabin from the Discovery I, from front grille back to the B-post, and then have the rear (load area) as per current Defender. This vehicle had a 200Tdi engine and manual gearbox with LT230 transfer-box. It was finished well and looked like a plausible defender update, and it drove like a Disco I as well. Sadly it was crushed.

Secondly, as an adjunct to Dave Kennedy's comments above concerning the stretched Range Rover Classic Simulator vehicles used as test and development mules for the P38A project:
I had the dubious honour of driving (well, steering as it was pushed) the last of these vehicles to the scrapyard at Solihull site. There were 10 of these vehicles, and this last one was painted black. They were stretched as Dave says, the stretch being taken up by having much wider B/C posts. This last car was an automatic, and was fitted with a special engine (I am not sure if they all were) which was a 4.2 litre V8 petrol, supplied by JE Racing.

As the proposed 4.6 litre V8 engines for P38A were not available at the time these cars were built, JE were asked to modify the existing LR 3.9 litre V8 engine to give it a representative power output that the 4.6 litre engine was expected to have. In actual fact, these special engines had a higher output than the 4.6 litre V8 eventually had, as JE had basically added a lot of race-tuned upgrades, including mods to the cam, crank, capacity (up from 3.9 to 4.2) plus fuelling and exhaust upgrades. These special 4.2 litre engines developed about 250bhp, and sounded really rorty and gave a very spirited performance to the stretched RR Classic P38A Mules to which they were fitted. So much so that these cars were nicknamed the "Stimulators".

Sadly, the actual output of the production 4.6 litre V8 was only 220bhp. It was a great shame that all the "Stimulators" were scrapped.  As the windscreen of this last car had been damaged, I cut my hand (across the knuckles) whilst steering it to the scrapyard, and I still have the scars to remind me of these great cars.

Thirdly, there was a little-known development test vehicle that had one of the longest lives (recently) at LR engineering, that I knew of.
It started life as one of the original Discovery I engineering test fleet vehicles, the project was known as Jay. The vehicle had a V8 engine and was painted blue. It was numbered J204.
For some reason, this vehicle just seemed to "stick around" with various justifications being used to continue it's existence at LR as a test car. So much so that it was re-bodied and converted into a Discovery II (project Tempest) with the stretched body being achieved by a wider D-post at the back. It also had the latest (at the time) Tempest V8 engine fitted, with the multi-intake plenum. I forget the name of this petrol engine program, the 5-cylinder diesel engine program was codenamed "Storm". So the life of J204 was extended as a Discovery II engineering development and test mule. It was given a new number from the Tempest program, I think it was 420, but I'm not certain, however we still referred to it as J204. It had a hard life, and sustained a lot of wear and tear during it's life. As far as I know, it was one of only very few (if any other) Land Rover test and development vehicles which was used on two separate consecutive vehicle projects. I really wanted this vehicle to be saved and not scrapped due to it's unique life at LR, but sadly this was not to be, and it was scrapped :-((

Lastly, I worked on the CB40 project for many years and had two of the Maestro Van mules as test cars. There were 22 of these CB40 mules, numbered M1 to M22. 20 of them were painted black, but two (M11 and M22) were painted white as these were the ABS/ETC/HDC test cars, and as such, spent a lot of time testing in the Arctic, so it was considered that white would be the better colour for these environments. M11 had the 2.0l diesel engine, M22 had the 1.8l K-series petrol engine.

These were the two mules that I drove the most. M22 in particular was a cracking good vehicle. As these mules were lighter than the eventual production bodied Freelanders, their performance was sprightlier, and they were surprisingly capable off-road. The modified Maestro bodyshells were all fitted with integral roll-cages. Only M11 and M22 had fully functioning (and regularly updated) ABS/ETC/HDC systems. I really wanted to buy M22 once it's test-program was over, as I had become quite attached to it, but alas this was not to be, and both M11 and M22 were scrapped.

As far as I know, at least two, maybe three of the CB40 Maestro Van mules were saved. I think two are at Dunsfold, and one at the Heritage Motor Centre.
I do know that M16 is definitely at Dunsfold (this is the one pictured on your website). This was the foundation-brakes dept. test mule, and had the K1.8 litre petrol engine. It regularly plied the brakes wear test route as part of it's duties, and I drove this vehicle occasionally. It still has the holes drilled in the front valance where we attached lead weights to get the corner (wheel) weights up to the correct level to represent a fully-laden Freelander.

Emma-claire Dunning.
Specialist Engineer (Braking systems),
JLR Advanced Chassis Research.

If you can help out with more information on Land Rover prototypes, please do so.

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More prototype pictures

An early 101 FC Prototype
An early 101 FC Prototype (01 SP 14).

101 fc prototype 6
101 forward control prototype number 6 (01 SP 17).

The Land-e
The Land-e.