Land Rover Project SVX, a forgotten concept

Image by Vauxford

Land Rover preserves it’s SVX monniker for more offroad focused vehicles. It was first used on the Project SVX concept vehicle, based on a ‘Land Rover Defender 90 Topless’. Project SVX was presented at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show and featured an upgraded TD5 engine (375Nm), hill descent control, loads of then-fashionable checkerplate in the interior and huge tyres.

Project SVX ‘in action’. It is said that the tyres were too big to properly steer the car

Note the half doors with pull-up handles, first seen on the 1958 Land Rover Series 2 and last fitted to the first runs of the mid 90’s Defender 90 NAS. The idea was that they were detachable, but anyone who has ever tried to remove and re-install those door hinges might argue. The 20 inch wheels and tyres scream ‘concept car’ and made it nearly impossible to round a normal bend. The lack of a windscreen, side windows or roof added to the “offroad toy” image of the project.

The chassis is galvanised, the added bumper is made of aluminium

The original brochure for the car showed a disclaimer stating ‘Project SVX is a concept vehicle and is not currently available for sale.’ The ‘currently’ makes it interesting, as there is a promise of a ‘maybe in the future’, but the SVX did not make it into production under BMW ownership.

Defender SVX production version
Eight (!) years later however, Land Rover introduced the Defender 90 and 110 SVX as a special edition to celebrate their 60th anniversary. It took many styling clues from the 1999 concept, like the grill, headlamp surrounds and anodized safety cage.

Land Rover Defender 90 SVX 60th anniversary limited edition

The unique Himalayan green micatellic paint was changed for an uncelebratory black, and the doors and bonnet featured ’60 years’ decals in satin black. The five spoke ‘diamond turned’ alloy wheels were of a more usable 18 inch size. The 110 only came in Station Wagon form, but the SVX 90 soft-top certainly looked like a tamed down version of the original Project SVX.
For creature comforts, it did have a (heated) windscreen and full doors with windows. 1800 cars were built and they sold out fast, inspiring Land Rover to market many more special editions before Defender production finally came to a halt.

Land Rover Discovery SVX
In 2017, Land Rover used the SVX name again for a more offroad focused Land Rover Discovery with a supercharged V8. The project was cancelled without further explanation, but with the introduction of the new Defender in 2019, it is logical to conclude that the Discovery SVX would overlap too much with the Defender. Shame, because the struggling Discovery would benefit from a halo-model

Land Rover Discovery SVX concept

If you are after a tangible piece of Land Rover Project SVX history, Matchbox ran a toy model of the concept vehicle from 2004-2007, in 2012 and last in 2016. It was available in a few different colours and liveries, including dark green.

The Matchbox SVX

Land Rover also produced a brochure with publication number LR/018/99. Although it is quite rare they do occasionally pop up on eBay. The real Project SVX concept vehicle currently resides in the British Motor Museum.

Land Rover Project SVX bochure

Ronald Janus
De Autoboerderij

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