The CB40 Project - The History Of Land Rover Part 2.5 #blogpost

One of the many CB40 concepts
One of the many CB40 concepts

In my mission to post something everyday, I thought that I should write more about the Land Rover Freelander, because there was a lot of information about it that didn’t make it into “The History Of Land Rover Part Two”. The reason is that would have made the post way over 1000 word which is too long. So here is the History of the CB40 project in full as I wanted it to be. The History Of Land Rover Part Three is taking longer to write because it’s hard to find information on the development of the newer models.

Land Rover Freelander Concept Sketch
Land Rover Freelander Concept Sketch

The Rover Group did some market research in the late 1980s and found out that there was a market for a compact SUV. The success of small off-roaders from Japan such as the Suzuki Vitara was enough of a reason for Land Rover to start on what would become the Freelander. This couldn’t come at a better time as word reached The Rover Group that German manufactures were developing vehicles for that sector of the market.

Land Rover Pathfinder (Left) Rover Oden (Right)
Land Rover Pathfinder (Left) Rover Oden (Right)

The development of the Freelander which at the time had the code-name CB40 started in the early 1990s with two cars being developed. A Land Rover and a Rover were being developed at the same time by the same people because Land Rover was still part of the Rover Group at the time. The Rover was called the Oden and the Land Rover was known as the Pathfinder. The design of the Pathfinder was completed in 1994, whilst the Rover Oden never made past the full size clay model stage as there wasn’t a market for a front wheel drive SUV, although that type of vehicle would later be called the “Crossover”.

Freelander test mules were disguised as Austin Maestro van
Freelander test mules were disguised as Austin Maestro van

The Freelander test mules were disguised as Austin Maestro vans. All 25 test mules were painted black or cream paint, disguised wheels, fuel fillers and older registration plates to make them as inconspicuous as possible. The Maestro van was the easiest vehicle because the “Pathfinder” was loosely based on the Maestro van, although that changed a year later. the van had been heightened which would have made them stand out.

Maestro van’s 2.0 litre Perkins Prima turbo diesel
Maestro van’s 2.0 litre Perkins Prima turbo diesel

The Test mules were powered by the Maestro van’s 2.0 litre Perkins Prima turbo diesel as that was the engine that was originally going to be used in the Freelander’s production, but wasn’t due to the poor build quality and very low outputs. The engine produced 81 BHP @ 4500 rpm and 116 lb•ft of torque @ 2500 rpm. The 2.0 Litre Rover L-Series engine (The production engine) was put in the Freelander in 1994. The Rover L-Series engine produced 99 BHP. (I couldn’t much more information on the Rover L-series with that tune).

Pre-Production Freelander from 1993
Pre-Production Freelander from 1993

By 1993 the Land Rover Pathfinder’s name had been changed to Freelander and as you can see by the picture above, the styling had pretty much completed. the main difference between the Pre-production and the production models was the Bull bar that was added for testing in Australia. As I’ve already stated, this car would have had the Maestro’s 2.0 litre turbo diesel. It also had the Rover PG1 gearbox which is the same gearbox that was used in the Lotus Elise. There were 150 pre-production vehicles, and only a few of them are left. The rest were crushed.

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