On the eve of this year’s Techno Classica – Germany’s trade show for the global vintage vehicle business – Land Rover made a surprise announcement that it was launching its own Heritage division to supply owners of classic Land Rovers with new, original parts. A restored Range Rover Classic, built with such pieces, accompanies the corporate display at the show.
This move isn’t unique to Land Rover. Jaguar, in fact, announced a similar Heritage division earlier this year as part of the company’s new Special Vehicle Operations department. Other luxury carmakers like Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and BMW have had similar programs for years.
But the announcement is significant, particularly to the community of vintage Land Rover enthusiasts who often feel disconnected from the company’s newer models. It’s all too easy for a big company like Jaguar Land Rover to overlook its enthusiast base, especially those owners who only buy older models. Ironically, these are often some of the most satisfied owners – the disciples, the cheerleaders.
These owners are still a part of the family, and the vehicles they buy have their own timeless appeal. That’s an important point that shouldn’t be lost on company like Land Rover, and yesterday’s announcement may help build a bridge between yesterday’s icons and today’s vehicles.
A better understanding of its past may also help guide Land Rover’s future. The company that started out building rugged, humble workhorse vehicles has morphed into a world-class premium/luxury brand, for better or worse. Perhaps the Heritage folks can work influence future product through understanding the original appeal of these vehicles.
Finally, the big announcement may also be the writing on the wall that old Land Rovers are about to climb in value, especially well restored original examples. No doubt the parts put out by Land Rover Heritage will cost dearly, and the only justification for such expense is a return on investment. There may come a day when thousand-dollar Range Rover Classics come to an end; it’s already happening with Series vehicles, and we don’t even need to mention current values on NAS Defenders.
We’re excited to see what Land Rover Heritage produces, and to see how it shapes the company’s image and future products. It’s a good thing for these iconic vehicles to finally get the recognition they deserve, and an even better time to be a Land Rover enthusiast.