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History of the Land Rover Discovery

Project Jay inspired in the Mid 80’s by the boom leisure 4 x 4 market and the need for Land Rover to design and build a product to compete with the imported Japanese market that had fast taken its market share. The Range Rover was still considered up market and the 90 & 110’s too agricultural so it was decided that a new vehicle should be built aimed at the “Middle Manager” with 2.4 children who enjoyed leisure pursuits and outdoors in his free time. At the same time new technology and development meant the launch of the 200 Tdi engine - giving what many will agree today was the product that saved Land Rover as a Company - The Discovery.

Officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 12th September 1989, the Discovery took the 4x4 market by storm. With its exciting new colours and Tdi engines that were giving excellent MPG. The Discovery went on sale in the UK on 16th November 1989. In 1989 alone approximately 3500 cars were sold in under two months. Sales accelerated away quickly confirming the publics' like of the new car. Utility companies such as Electricity & Gas Boards were buying the model and Police Forces started to show an interest and purchase these cars for motorway patrol and rural beats. Again these owners added public faith to the fast growing popularity of the vehicle.

The 3-door cars were quickly overshadowed by the early launch of the
5-door model in 1990 that became very popular based on the reliability of the fast selling 3-door. At the same time the petrol 3.5 was upgraded to an Efi variant giving better reliability and performance, although the diesel 200 Tdi was by far the best seller. A 2.0 litre Mpi engine was added to the range to combat tax brackets for company car drivers. The 2.0 litre was underrated but many were sold in the following years. The 2.0 litre was dropped from the range in 1997. In 1994 the 200 series was replaced with the 300 series Discovery. The 300, although the same body shell had revised front end and interior along with the 300 Tdi diesel engine and better gearbox.

In 1998 the model was revised again with the launch of the Discovery II with its BMW influence of a TD5 5-cylinder diesel engine and a 4.0 petrol, which by now was selling in far fewer numbers than the diesel versions.

A 1998 Discovery II

In 2004 and under Ford ownership the Discovery 3 was launched. The Discovery 3 was a totally new vehicle.

A 2004 Discovery 3

In 2009 the New Discovery 4 launched. Basically this was a revised version of the Discovery 3. A new interior, revised front lighting and panels along with a new 3.0 litre SDV6 engine were among some of the changes made.  


A 2009 Discovery 4