Range Rover VELAR
The name was fitted to the bonnet on a black strip and the letters were sourced from the P6 Rover parts bin - the A was an inverted V.
VELAR is traditionally thought to stand for V8 Land Rover, or V8 Engine in Land Rover. However, the name had already been used on a prototype Rover sports car, of which only one was made and is now at Gaydon. The name is derived from the Spanish Velar meaning to look after, to watch over or the Italian Velare meaning to veil or to cover. The name was created by Mike Dunn, an engineer at Alvis and was created out of the letters in ALVIS and ROVER. So the VELAR motor company was used by Geof Miller (the Range Rover's Development Engineer) as a decoy name for registering pre-production Range Rovers. As such the company, which was registered in London, is credited with making one sports car and forty or so station wagons.
The first VELAR was made in the summer of 1967, after which six further engineering prototypes and a drivable chassis were built. The last of this run, built in January 1970 was virtually production standard.
During 1969, a production line was constructed at the Solihull Factory and twenty eight pre-production prototypes were built. These vehicles were assigned production chassis numbers from 35500001A to 35500025A (and 35800001A to 3A left hand drive) and assigned London registrations of the series YVB 151H through to YVB 177H. Whilst these VELARS were intended to be production standard, they bore various prototype features such as aluminum bonnets, smooth dash boards, Land Rover type seats and hand-made roof panels. Many of these vehicles were dispatched to the engineering department and were used for on-going development and conversion. A few of these Velars were used for publicity (notably YVB 153H and YVB 160H) and featured in promotional film footage such as 'A Car for All Reasons' and magazine test reports.
In May 1970, a batch of 20 production standard Range Rovers were built, 5 red, 5 white, 5 blue and 5 green. These were used for the press launch in May/June 1970 at the Meudon Hotel near Falmouth, Cornwall. These Range Rovers were assigned Solihull registrations NXC 231H to NXC 250H consecutively with chassis numbers 35500025A to 35500045A.
Until recently, only one engineering prototype was thought to survive (AOY 289H chassis number 100/6). However, chassis 100/7, registered YVB 150H, was recently found and is now undergoing full restoration. Only three of the 'YVB' pre-production prototypes remain unaccounted for, although many are in need of, or are undergoing full restoration. Seven of the press cars are still missing.
With the passing of time and natural wastage through scrap yards, all surviving early Range Rovers may be assigned the noble status of classic car. In particular, these few Velars are increasingly sought after and the beautifully restored YVB 151H is reputedly valued at £100,000. Despite their rarity, VELAR owners often gather through the Range Rover Register and a convoy of twenty of so VELARS may be spotted on the leafy lanes of Warwickshire as if through a time warp of nearly thirty years.