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Making the Range Rover Legend (ePub)

The 1971–72 British Trans-Americas Expedition

P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century Transport > Cars

By John Carroll
Imprint: Key Publishing
File Size: 7.7 MB (.epub)
Pages: 128
ISBN: 9781802820812
Published: 1st June 2022


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At the bidding of a London-based committee, a team from the British Army undertook the challenge of driving the Pan-American Highway in its entirety from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego. This would include finding a route for the projected road through Darién in Panama by crossing the notorious Darién Gap. The Gap was approximately 200 miles long in Panama and northern Colombia and was the missing link in the intercontinental highway’s entire length. It would take almost 100 days of concerted effort for the British Trans-America Expedition to drive, winch and float two Range Rovers through this trackless jungle terrain. The British Trans-America Expedition of 1971/72 wasn’t the first to cross the Darién Gap with vehicles as it followed in the wake of expeditions in 1960 and 1961 that variously used a Land Rover, a Jeep pick-up and Chevrolet Corvair cars. However, its Range Rovers were the first vehicles to cover the whole distance from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina, a journey that has become legendary and did much to forge the legend of the Range Rover SUV, which was unveiled just a year before the expedition took place. This book looks at the history of the Darién region and the expeditions of 1960 and 1961 that set the scene for the epic 100 days of Darién a decade later. It contains reminiscences and anecdotes from eight members of the expedition – six soldiers and two Rover Company engineers – as well as previously unpublished photographs, decorative maps and commemorative postal covers.

Here is something to please both the dedicated Land Rover/Range Rover enthusiast as well as those who enjoy a cracking tale of ‘derring do’. Published with the benefit of half a century of hindsight, this well illustrated volume tells the story of the epic 17,084 mile, six month long British Trans-Americas Expedition which set out to complete the first road vehicle journey the length of the Pan American Highway from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Others had tried but failed, progress grinding to halt in the dense Darien jungle of Panama, the infamous 200 mile wide ‘Darien Gap’. The 1971/72 expedition consisted of a British Army team with the full support of British Leyland’s Rover division, who saw the project as a way of promoting their new Range Rover.

Although the team completed their challenge, it’s the three months that they spent cutting their way through the Darien jungle that really defined the expedition. Hopes that the project would lead to the completion of the Pan-American Highway did not materialise and, fifty years later, the Darien Gap remains impassable to motor vehicles. Thoroughly recommended.

National Motor Museum Trust

About John Carroll

John Carroll is an esteemed motoring journalist and photographer. He is the editor of 4x4 magazine and contributes to Land Rover World and Off Road and 4 Wheel Drive, as well as having several books under his belt.

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