Land Rover History
mixed fortunes
unrest, war, confusion, but there’s a waiting list for the Range Rover

1973 was to be one of the best years under the British Leyland umbrella. All the upheavals of the mergers and take-overs, and the power restrictions of the previous year, had settled into a sort of uneasy calm. While every Land Rover and Range Rover was sold as fast as they could be made, things were not so rosy with the rest of the cars being produced by the group and the budgetary constraints were still in place.
The Land Rover Series III continued much the same as at its introduction. The Range Rover, however, did get a bit of a makeover, but only at little development cost.
The back end got vinyl covering on the rear quarter panels and there was the option of a rear window wash and wipe. Inside, the front seats had an extra handle to allow them to be tipped from outside more easily, and the blanked out holes in the dash now had the option of extra gauges.
By far the most significant thing was the option of power assisted steering. This alone turned an already good vehicle into a really good one. It wasn’t needed to help sales along, however, as there was already a 12 month waiting list by the middle of the year.
Britain had joined the Common Market in January and in April, in line with other member States, Value Added Tax was introduced. Also on New Years Day it became illegal to fit the silver-on-black, non-reflective number plates. Only the yellow and white reflective types were allowed on new vehicles.

death and unrest
In January, after twelve years and the loss of 57,000 American soldiers and possibly one million Vietnamese casualties, America finally withdrew its forces from Vietnam.
There was still major unrest with the British workforce. The coal miners remained unhappy with the results of the previous year’s pay rises, and asked for some more. As inflation was running at 25 percent, most salaries were loosing ground. As if all this was not enough, in October Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
This war suddenly caused a worldwide oil shortage and consequently a big hike in oil prices. Ration books were issued, but not used, and a blanket 50 mph speed limit imposed. To cap this, the miners at the same time demanded a huge payrise and, in support, the power workers and railwaymen imposed an overtime ban. In December Edward Heath, the Prime Minister, imposed the three day week again. Businesses and homes were only allowed to use electricity at certain times. This did not make things any easier in the motor industry as demand for new cars, especially those with big engines, fell dramatically. The manufacturers of components also had great difficulty fulfilling orders for the car makers to turn into complete vehicles as and when their power allowance permitted.
Things had to go on as normal behind the scenes and lots of work was going on to build the prototypes of the SD1, even though big cars were not the most desirable at the time.

profits amongst the bombs
The IRA brought their bombing campaign to the mainland as well in response to the ‘Bloody Sunday’ shooting of thirteen people by paratroopers the previous year. Bombs exploded at the Old Bailey and at Scotland Yard. In spite of all this, British Leyland in 1973 managed to produce pre-tax profits of £51.3 million.
While none of this really made a significant impact on the actual models being produced, it was the run up to a major storm. If they thought 1973 was hard work, the management at BL would have an even tougher time in 1974 when the after effects of 1973 caught up.

Copyright: Land Rover Monthly magazine. All worldwide rights reserved. No part of this text or pictures may be reproduced or copied without written permission of the copyright holders.

back to history menu