Since Land Rover produced the coach-built Tickford 80” Station Wagons in 1949, there has been a long history of cooperation and sometimes collaboration in producing bespoke versions of their vehicles for those whose tastes run more refined than the average Land Rover customer. In later years, other companies became involved, such as Overfinch, Callaway, and JE Engineering, among others.
Such outfitters would typically provide upgraded tunings using specialized parts and add-ons such as turbochargers, high compression heads, recalibrated ECUs, etc. More recently, specialist tuners such as Twisted Performance and Khan Developments in the UK have offered specialist versions of the now obsolete Defender. Some firms even went as far as to purchase significant inventory of the outgoing Defender vehicles so as to be able to offer new conversions for a few years to come.
Now, in what appears to be a break in tradition, Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern has spoken out against the practice, telling the aftermarket companies that JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) will put them all out of business.
The outspoken McGovern, in an interview with UK journal Autocar, said, “It’s easy to take a product that’s already been created and put a little spoiler on it or whatever, but I’d like to see them design their own car. We see them taking our property and making a bit more profit.”
McGovern’s hope is that customers looking to personalize their Land Rovers will be drawn to the quality of Land Rover’s own customizations, rather than turn to third-party tuning companies.
“We’re going to put them out of business through SVO,” he added. “The quality of our work, (is) much better.”
Given the decades long tradition of modifying Land Rovers, and notions of individuality and personal identity that have defined the brand over the years, it is doubtful that there someday won’t be enough of a market to keep the small volume builders in business. Certainly there will always be those whose idea of a tasteful conversion falls outside of the parameters defined by SVO’s offerings.
Most recently, SVO has announced a hot-rodded version of the latest 5th generation Discovery. No details have been provided yet. Hopefully we’ll have some more on this for you in the next Roverlog.
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