British luxury SUV manufacturer Land Rover is known for combining lavishness with athletic appeal, and there’s no better model to represent this other than the Discovery. The Discovery is one of the brand’s biggest best sellers and for good reason as well. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to style, engineering, design, and functionality. Land Rover has had a rich history since it was first founded in 1978, and their Discovery model is truly one of a kind. Here are 10 things that you probably didn’t know about the British equivalent of the Jeep—the Land Rover Discovery.
1. Project Jay
The first model series of the Discovery was produced in the UK in 1989. For some reason, this model was nicknamed “Project Jay” by the company. This original vehicle only had three doors, and the five-door version will not come out until the following year. This initial Discovery model won a British Design Award the year it was released for outstanding design achievements.
2. Royal vehicles
The Discovery was good enough to be driven by the Royal family back in the 90s. Particularly while he held the position of Park Ranger, Prince Philip drove the Discovery around Windsor Great Park. Even though the Royal family saw the Discovery as a vehicle fit for royalty, the car didn’t quite sell as well as it should.
3. North America Discovery
This British automobile didn’t make it across the Atlantic until 1994 after the first update was made to the original design. To accommodate US regulations, Land Rover installed airbags in the vehicle. The airbags were not part of the standard model, however, and had to be added as an upgrade.
4. The Honda Crossroad
The Discovery had a badge-engineered version that was sold in Japan in the 90s under the Honda brand. The Rover brand at the time had cross-holding relationships with Honda UK, allowing for badge-engineering to take place. This relationship ended, however, when Rover was acquired by BMW in 1994. It’s rare to find a Honda Crossroad now that has the Discovery body, but Honda did recycle the Crossroad name under a different model.
5. Special edition Discoveries
There are many different international versions of the original Discovery model that were released globally throughout the 90s. Some of the countries that got special edition Discovery vehicles include Switzerland (Country Life), Australia (Orienteer and Rossignol), France (Freestyle and County Rider), and Germany (Sunseeker, Camel Trophy, Trophy, and Esquire) among a few others.
6. 720 differences
The second series of the Discovery was released in 1998 right after production of Discovery I halted. According to Land Rover, the second series had 720 modifications from the original. These changes were applied all over the vehicle—from the interior to the exterior spaces.
7. Discovery 3
2004 was the last year the second Discovery series was in production. The Discovery 3 followed suit. In North America, Land Rover released the model as LR3, especially considering that the American Discovery models had a negative reputation when it came to quality. The Discovery 3 would end production in 2009 after the introduction of new mechanical, electronic, and design upgrades have been applied.
8. Terrain Response System
This system was introduced in the Discovery 3, and it allowed the driver better navigation all in all. This system was found to be cumbersome by many. However, critics have lauded Land Rover for the development of the tech. Because of the Terrain Response System, the Discovery 3 has won a few awards in various international markets.
9. 25 years
Land Rover celebrated its 25th year anniversary in 2014 by releasing a special edition Discovery that was marketed aptly as the XXV. The XXV had special details including XXV-embossed Windsor leather seats among many others. Only 1800 XXV vehicles were ever produced, some of which were exported to other countries.
10. One million Discoveries
Another milestone in the Land Rover Discovery history is the production of the one-millionth vehicle in the Solihull production line in England in March 2012. To celebrate, Land Rover replicated a 1950s expedition. The one-millionth Discovery was driven along with two other vehicles from Solihull to Beijing, China. Another vehicle joined the expedition at Lake Geneva—a pre-production Discovery 1 model. The finale was the appearance of the one-millionth Discovery at the Beijing Auto Show. This vehicle is now part of the permanent exhibition at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust center in England.