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How to Identify A Range Rover

By Benjamin Smith (Disco, Range Rovers and Defender information)

(No Virginia, like the Austin Mini they don't all look alike)

Range Rover

Range Rover Classic(1970-1995): Range Rovers say so in the leading edge of the bonnet. The bonnet is boxy in nature, takes up the whole area from side to side, and extends down some 6 or so inches down the sides of the front fenders. At the base of the bonnet near the windshield is what appears to be an fresh air intake. Unlike the Discovery and Series Land Rovers, the spare is normally carried inside. The headlights are round. Range Rovers built after 1 October 1979 have a VIN number that begins "SALLH" or "SALH"

The "new" Range Rover (mk2)(1995 to present): introduced in 1995 looks like someone took a RR Classic, tossed a grenade in and shut the door. In other words, bulbous, rounded, and faintly American, but with square headlamps. The VIN number begins either "SALLP" or "SALP".

Identifying Characteristics

General characteristics

  • If it is a 2-door is was built before 12 Jan 1984
  • If it is a four door, it is a probably a post 1981 vehicle. (Some companies did conversions prior to this, but 1981 marks factory made 4-doors)
  • If the flooring on the tranny tunnel is PVC, then Rangie is pre January 1973. If it is carpeted, then it is post January 1973
  • If the gear shift gaiter is rubber, then the Rangie is pre October 1974. If it is carpeted, then it is post October 1974.
  • If it has power assist steering, it was built in January 1973 or later.
  • If it has air conditioning and the unit is not mounted on the roof, then it is a 1979 or later model.
  • If there is polished wood on the inside or it is an "in Vogue" model, then it was built in 1981 or later.
  • If it has a 5-speed manual transmission, it was built in 1983 or later
  • 1983 model Range Rovers have burred-over ends of the twin tail pipes. previous models did not have this.
  • If the front doors have one piece windows, it was built in 1984 or later. If it has a main window and forward triangle window in the front doors then it is a pre 1984 Rangie.
  • If the Rangie has headlight washer jets, it is a 1985(?) model or later.
  • In 1986 the hand brake lever was relocated to the top of the tranny tunnel.
  • In 1986 the longer (~2 foot) gearshift lever was replaced by a shorter (~1 foot) one.
  • In 1986 the fuel filler was with a flap.
  • Factory anti-roll bars were introduced in fall 1990.
  • If you can see the front door hinges, it was a 1990 or earlier model.
  • If it is has a wheel base of 108" (as opposed to 100") it was built in autumn 1992 or later.
  • If it has airbags, it was built after March 1994.

Front Grill:

  • Vertical bars: 1970-1985.
  • Horizontal bars: 1986 and on.


  • Staggered twin rear shocks: 1985 and earlier.
  • Twin forward facing rear shocks: 1986 and on.

Dash area:

  • 1984 models and on: center mounted clock flanked by vents. RPM gauge (first use), a passenger grab handle was fitted, and larger instrument binnacle

Seat belts:

  • Inertia-reel seatbelts first made available: Jan 1973 (mounted to seat)
  • Front seats do not have inertia-reel seatbelts: built before September 1979.
  • Inertia-reel seatbelts mounted to center door pillars: 1985 and on (for 4-door models).

Front Bumpers:

  • 1970 to August 1979 models carry a chrome front bumper.
  • September 1979 and later models have black front bumpers.
  • Front bumper ends were introduced in 1982.
  • Made standard for 1983 and later models


  • 4 speed manual: 1970 to May 1983.
  • 5 speed manual: May 1983 and on.
  • Automatic: August 1982 and on.

Door locks and door handles:

  • 2-door to at least 1981 had the door hand on the trailing edge of the door about halfway down (was about 6 inches high) and the lock just above and slightly forwards of the handle.
  • 4-doors: door handle in the upper back part of the door. Lock located on the trailing edge of the door, halfway between top and bottom. 1981 to May 1983.
  • 4-door: handle and lock put in same unit (with advent of central locking) May 1983 and on.

"Range Rover" lettering (bonnet and tailgate:

  • individually mounted letters--pre 1979 model.
  • adhesive plastic strip--1979 or later model.

Side mirrors:

  • mounted in the wings--built before 1984
  • mounted on the door, aerodynamic, narrow base--built in 1984.
  • integrated with leading lower corners of the front door window aperture (wide base)--built in 1985 or later.

Steering wheel:

  • 3 Spokes: built before September 1979.
  • 4 spokes with a small center piece: built between September 1979 and 1988.
  • 2 spokes and a slightly larger center piece: built between 1988 and March 1994.
  • 4 spokes and a large center piece: built after March 1994.

VM Diesels:

  • RRs came with 4 cyl 2.4 or 2.5VM diesel and 200tdi factory fit option. VM was mid 80's up to '92, 200Tdi was '92 to '94 and after that was 300Tdi.
  • Apart from servicing in USA there's nothing wrong with VM diesel. Overhauls are cheap and easy relative to LR lumps and they even have slide-in cylinder liners. I remember that 4 new pistons with rings and liners was less than UKP400 from the dealer (this was back in the early 90s in the UK).
Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-2011. Last modified August 26, 2006.
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