BMC Range Rover Profile

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BMC Range Rover General Information

You may wonder if here isn't a mix up between Paris-Dakar style raid events and rallies. It was only a private adventure type of thing and only for the Safari Rally. It wasn't a big performer, but it had no problems getting to the finish - and in 1982 even in 6th place!

If this is not too opinionated, I feel generally rally should be about performance (and endurance and versatility), a sport for sporty cars created with performance and not with tractors in mind. Off roaders have nothing lost in this sport and should go to slow playground truck trials. However if there is one off roader I am happy to have a rally success, it is the Range Rover. It is stylish, functional and a real off roader ready for a challenge - unlike the fashion cars a la Volkswagen Touareg, BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class, Porsche Cayenne, that can't go 5 metres off road, even if they were allowed to get dirty. The day such alibi wannabe off roader looks good in a challenging, competitive rally, I will lose all my pride and enthusiasm for this sport. But the Range Rover somehow is another story.

There are actually two important points in the chapter above:

1) What is rally. I know many rally fans argue me when I keep complaining about rough gravel. But is my point really that odd? Who is going to watch rallies, a sporty driver fascinated by speed, or the typical Land Rover, Jeep or Massey Ferguson customer? Peugeot, Lancia, etc are trying to market hot hatches or sports cars as 205, 208, Delta, Stratos. Or best example maybe indeed niche manufacturer Subaru, is their Impreza WRX not meant to be a fast performance car? To market cars as these is the whole point of rallying for the manufacturers, and if the WRC keeps throwing events at us so rough that wheels are hanging off the cars and you would be well advised to indeed start with a Jeep or a John Deere, than something is utterly wrong in this sport, period!

2) I am going to lean out the window concerning the modern SUV trend. Many insiders regard the first SUV to be the Talbot Rancho. But why people forget the Range Rover? For first SUVs, the Matra-Simca Rancho (so its name before the Talbot brand was revived) came in 1977, but the Range Rover already in 1970. (The Range Rover was designed during 1968 & 1969 with BMC turning into BL by the end of 1968, so excuses if I sometimes say BL and sometimes BMC.)

While I am not trying to identify which was the first true SUV, in this category there are only two cars that were first of their kind in their very own way and both made a lot more sense than any car that followed in this SUV trend:

Talbot Rancho: I actually jump onto that wagon, maybe partly for I am quite a Talbot fan. Depending what you see in an SUV, a sport utility vehicle that is neither sport nor utility, than the Rancho may be first. Though the Rancho still made a lot more sense than the modern trend, because it didn’t pretend to be anything it simply wasn’t, very much in contrary to all those Touaregs, X5s, etc today. The Rancho was basically a Matra designed Simca/Talbot 1100 small commercial transporter that was "de-commercialised" with 4 seats, an exciting roof line and rear glass area and a very functional double tailgate. The Talbot Matra Rancho never had 4x4 nor raised suspension. Yes, you could order it with stuff like an electric winch, bull bars and positioning lights, yet it never really tried to be an off roader and was never marketed as one either - in fact Talbot marketed it as "leisure car", maybe that is what Sport Utility Vehicle means, though I still cannot see what is sport nor utility about a car that weighs 3 tons and is as high as a Transit van just minus the interior space. The Talbot Rancho was a very good idea, an unusual leisure car that somehow indeed addressed the SUV idea 30 years earlier. But in contrast to Cayenne, M-Class, etc it didn’t weight 3 tonnes and didn’t have a centre of gravity that made it wobble and tip over by just looking at it. The Talbot Rancho was a strangely exciting car that people could take for picnic or drive it to the beach for surfing or camping or how about across the golf course. While i.e. the Volkswagen Touareg you can at best take to the next snooker game, and even that only if it has a roof rack to transport your cue and a ladder to reach the roof rack.

Range Rover: Quite a different approach. Indeed it is strange the Range Rover is not commonly seen as the first SUV. Maybe its functionality and off road abilities are too good for an SUV? World famous and hugely successful was already the Land Rover, officially the best four-by-four-by-far. However in design and comfort the Landy just does not feel at home on normal roads and does look out of place in anything civilisation. That is where for BMC/Rover the idea to the Range was born. In very simplistic terms the Range Rover is a Land Rover with more civilised design and some comfort aspects added, plus available with engines up to the famous Rover V8. Yet from its underpinnings it is derived from the best 4x4xfar, the Landy. See adventure events as the Camel Trophy, the Range Rover can take you through a jungle, yet it is the first car that made 4x4 off roaders fashionable outside battle fields, rain forests and Wales. What’s most maybe, although a fairly fashionable design, BMC/BL/Rover managed to create a classic that hasn’t really changed on the original design scheme in decades despite having changed owners from British Leyland via BMW and Ford to Tata-JLR! Indeed the Range Rover in its original design was so long built that it doesn't carry "Mk" generation tags. The 1st generation (no tag) - to which this rally version counts - was available with different wheel bases, but otherwise built completely unchanged for an incredible 25 years! It followed the 2nd generation (P38) in 1995, 3rd (L322) in 2004 and 4th (L405) in 2013 and the short wheel base version may be called Range Rover Sport nowadays. But whatever happened, the general line always stayed the same and the Range quite likely always was and is the only car on this planet that you can drive from Monaco Casino square via 3rd World Germany straight into Iraq without ever looking out of place.

Sorry, words are never enough to describe this car. But while 99% of modern SUVs are utterly pointless and useless, the Range Rover is about the SUV with the most classic design, the biggest luxury, yet with real military off road abilities!

Now, if I complain above that rallies should be for performance cars, as a Lancer Evo was never marketed as Mitsubishi’s opposite number to an old Toyota Landcruiser pick up, so I don’t need rallies with rocks the size of footballs. But then I revel about the Range Rover’s off road abilities. I am especially excited that the Range Rover got its best result in 6th place in the Safari Rally 1982. Because the Safari is not what you expect it to be. It is more soft, deep sand turning into difficult mud, which is still better than rocks the size of footballs ripping your wheels off. The Safari is such a special rally that, never mind asphalt and groupB, until 1987 it was the one and only WRC rally that was never won by a 4x4! In contrary cars like Peugeot 404 & 504 were always especially good there for torquey engines and soft rear axles. Yes, a Range Rover would not be your rally car of choice for Tour de Corse or San Remo. But surprisingly maybe, yet provable, the Safari was never about 4x4 but about clever cars that were good overall packages. So nice it was here and not something like modern WRC Acropolis, Cyprus, Turkey, where the Range got its best result, even though the Range could probably do well there, too. It just starts fitting into the picture that a rattly Landy was never rallied, while the Safari Rally Range was actually equipped with the V8 engine known from Rover SD1 and Triumph TR7!

The Range Rover actually holds an unexpected record. When BL France decided to send two such cars to the Bandama Rallye 1979, this was the first time ever a 4x4 vehicle had started a WRC event - and not an Audi Quattro or a Subaru!

BMC Range Rover Related Content

BMC Range Rover Evolutions

Model & Evo. (Activity)
BMC Range Rover 3500 (79-84) 199/5250 312/2500 4445.1814.1798 0 (0) 4x4 (2540)

Random BMC Range Rover Photos

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BMC Range Rover Results

This is an unofficial Car Results list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego hh:mm:ss
13th. 1989 WRC Safari Rally S. Tham B. Sessions #54 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
15th. 1987 WRC Safari Rally G. Miller R. Matthews #30 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
14th. 1986 WRC Safari Rally G. Miller R. Matthews #41 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
15th. 1985 WRC Safari Rally G. Miller R. Matthews #44 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
23rd. 1984 WRC Safari Rally G. Miller . UNKNOWN #82 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00
6th. 1982 WRC Safari Rally R. Collinge M. Frazer #9 [UNKNOWN] 8:54:00
15th. 1980 WRC Safari Rally R. Collinge A. Levitan #11 [UNKNOWN] 0:00:00

BMC Range Rover Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 1989 WRC Safari Rally G. Miller R. Matthews #39 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1989 WRC Safari Rally P. Choda P. Choda #57 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1988 WRC Safari Rally P. Choda P. Choda #46 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1988 WRC Safari Rally G. Miller . UNKNOWN #41 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1984 WRC Safari Rally J. Heather-Hayes M. Kravos #59 [UNKNOWN] SS99 ?
Ret. 1983 WRC Safari Rally R. Collinge S. Pegg #14 [UNKNOWN] SS74 crash
Ret. 1979 WRC Bandama Rallye H. Cochin J. Brix #65 [UNKNOWN] SS99 steering
Ret. 1979 WRC Bandama Rallye J. Privé C. du Rouvre #22 [UNKNOWN] SS99 suspension