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Land Rover

The world’s most modest design icon.

The Land Rover is widely recognised as a design icon, whilst, uniquely, also being the simplest of car designs with the most modest demeanour.

Back in 1948 when the Land Rover was launched, its was clear that the design took learning from the pioneering Willys Jeep. But it differs critically in having fenders and doors as one volume running the full body-length making it more modern, integrated and car-like than the American military vehicle that inspired it. Instead of the four-wheel motor-bike semantic of the doorless Jeep that places soldiers more on it than in it, the Land Rover seats farmers and their accoutrements enclosed within.

Beyond this, the design is defined by its most reduced approach: flat aluminium panels benignly rolling into one another; all necessary visual punctuations of lighting, grille, recessed door handle, and galvanised steel bumpers, realised in the most simple way — you can almost see the lines of the draftsman’s circle-guide and ruler.  

Yet holding off austerity is the elegant crown to the hood, the slight rising side profile, the soft shoulder and the gentle sweep to the wheel-arches. And the whole ensemble holding itself together with calmly confident, yet modest, proportions that belie artistry in its conception.

With legendary technical innovation, functional competence, commercial and socio-cultural impact, and longevity, this design’s modesty goes way beyond its reduced simplicity. Never has an icon of car design been so unassumingly simple.