It's the stuff of legend: the U.S. Army requested a vehicle - and drove off in a hero. The Willys MB, its spirit forged by the fire of combat and honed in the heat of battle, seared its way into the hearts of warriors fighting for freedom. Fierce emotional bonds often developed between a soldier and his Jeep. The faithful MB earned a place in every GI's heart, in every area of combat, in every conceivable role. As General Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "America could not have won World War II without it."
The legacy continues today with the introduction of the Limited-Edition 2004 Jeep Wrangler Willys. Reminiscent of the soldiers' experiences with the original Willys MB during WW II, today's collectors, veterans, outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers will find themselves establishing a powerful bond with their faithful new Jeep Wrangler Willys.
Detroit, Mich., USA, 5 January 2004 - Land Rover makes history today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, by unveiling its first ever concept show car, the Range Stormer.
The Range Stormer is a high performance, sports tourer SUV concept car, which showcases a future design direction for Land Rover. It also previews a new production model, one that will enter a fresh market segment for the company and will be an additional model line in the Land Rover portfolio.
Commenting on the new concept, Land Rover's managing director Matthew Taylor, said: "The supercharged V8 Range Stormer gives a taste of our forthcoming new entrant in the booming high performance SUV segment. The production vehicle that follows will share many of its styling and technical innovations. It is very much conceived to be an on-road, high performance machine, as well as class-leading off-road like all Land Rovers."
Geoff Upex, design director at Land Rover, added: "The challenge was to translate fundamental Land Rover design values into a concept for a high performance machine that looks powerful, muscular and edgy. We certainly want to challenge established views of our vehicles, but the Range Stormer is very clearly an authentic Land Rover."
Future technologies previewed with the concept include an all-new platform that will be the basis for future full-size Land Rover models. This advanced, integrated platform, unique to Land Rover, will provide the underpinnings for the production vehicle inspired by the Range Stormer.
Another major innovation showcased is Terrain Response. This smart and simple-to-use new Land Rover technology delivers the best possible on- and off-road composure and control by optimising the entire vehicle set-up.
The driver simply selects the appropriate Terrain Response setting from the six available and the suspension, powertrain, throttle response and traction control come together to do the rest, based on a choice ranging from 'dynamic' for high speed work to 'deep ruts' for extreme off-roading.
Matthew Taylor concluded: "You'll be seeing an increasing amount of innovative technology in our future vehicles. But technology that makes the driver's task simpler not more complicated, such as Terrain Response. You select the terrain. The car then helps you conquer it."
The Range Stormer was completed with the support of suppliers Alcoa (22" forged alloy wheels), Hella (interior and exterior lights) and Goodyear (custom made tyres).
After 100 years, during which time the highways and byways of England and Wales have been explored and enjoyed by generations of drivers and motorcyclists, a proposal just put out to consultation by the Department of Environment, Farming & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) looks set to change the face of recreational motoring for ever.
The proposed legislation could affect any type of motor sport which uses minor public roads, and it severely threatens some of the UK's oldest automobile competitions, including famous classic trials organised by bodies like the Motor Cycling Club (whose Edinburgh Trial, for example, celebrates its centenary in June 2004).
The change is part of the fallout from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which introduced the right to roam for hikers across thousands of square miles of private land - and is largely driven by a vocal and influential minority which wants motor vehicles out of their countryside - full stop.
Illegal motoring is a very real problem in places - but in seeking to combat it effectively, the countryside minister Alun Michael appears to be proposing changes which will hit the law-abiding, while probably doing little to deter the cowboys.
Bill Troughear, chairman of the Land Access & Recreation Association (LARA) says: There is a very real danger that motorcyclists and drivers will lose access to minor tarmac and stone-surfaced roads, thus closing down access to large areas of the countryside.
The motoring organisations do not condone irresponsible and aggressive behaviour in the countryside. Our ancient highways are not scrambles practice tracks, nor a battleground to be conquered. If people want to go fast, or to drive into situations where a winch is a necessity, they should enter competitions held on appropriate terrain. Unfortunately, our planning rules are biased against the provision of such sites, so this does not help in diverting inappropriate highway use to more appropriate activity sites.
It is grossly unfair to propose an ill-thought change in legislation that damages our centuries-old highway law, takes away the rights of ordinary people enjoying an arcane, but historic, pastime, does little to tackle the root causes of the problems, and gives yet more exclusive territory to ramblers, who already enjoy more access than they can ever possibly want.
In England and Wales, there are around 120,000 miles of footpaths and bridleways where motorists cannot go. There are around 6,000 miles of minor, unsealed vehicular roads, much of which is also enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and riders. Walkers now have or will soon have thousands of square miles of open access countryside as well, plus they can wander at will on urban commons and through Forestry Commission plantations. Ramblers already have exclusive rights to most of the British countryside: now they want the rest, too.
LARA will be co-ordinating a response to the proposals, and advising club members how to approach their MPs. The closing date for responses is 19 March 2004. Copies of the consultation paper are available on both the LARA and DEFRA websites. For more details, please contact the LARA Motor Recreation Development Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.laragb.org.
For more information or for media interviews, please contact:
Tim Stevens, Motor Recreation Development Officer
LARA HQ PO Box 20 Market Drayton TF9 1WR Tel: 01630 657627