A potted history of the SUV

Posted by AndiC on 19 June 2014 | 0 Comments

1936: The Chevrolet Suburban Carryall became popular with the well-to-do in the 30s, a key feature of American summer weekends.

America started the love-affair with the SUV, longer ago than many realise with GM, Chrysler and Ford each having their part in the development of a genre of personal transport that now dominates driveways and trailways from Seattle to Seatoun.

Indeed, the sports utility vehicle has existed since well before the name achieved common usage.

In the 30s the famous GM ''Carryall'' was a sort of short bus for the whole family. It became popular with the well-to-do in the 30s, and it became a feature on American summer weekends with inverted canoes on the roof and preppy youths festooned from its windows while mum and dad drove with gay abandon to the Hamptons, or into California's Sierras for play and leisure.

Which perhaps explains why something so big and practical has gained the epithet Sports Untility Vehicle. The Travelall spawned the ''Suburban'' and it's that nameplate that Chevrolet now applies to its full-sized family SUVs which now also shine darkly in convoy, protecting the US President.

Jeep, now proudly owned by Chrysler, would have had nowhere to go after winning World War Two, had not some keen marketing guys converted the machine into what became known as ''Jeepsters'' and then the mighty ''Wagoneer'' - a station wagon complete with timber appliques which preceded the company's now more famous Cherokees by almost 40 years.

But it was Ford's famous Explorer that created the SUV template that we know and love. Ford had enjoyed huge success with its F-series pickup since the early 50s, never losing first place in the truck market in all that time. The company also had some good sales from its stubby all-wheel-driven Bronco, a model made famous by OJ Simpson in the 90s.

Effectively the first Explorer combined all that Ford had learned from the F-series and Bronco, and its uncompromised two-box profile established the visual template for most SUVs from that day to this.

But cool Britannia had earlier input into SUV lore with the launch of the first Range Rover in 1969. At first a sharply-designed 4x4 with motorway capability for farmers and a hose-out interior, the Range Rover soon allowed the market to make it into the first 'luxury' 4x4 and it even preceded the mainstream Ford, Jeep and Chevy SUVs we're now familiar with by 20 years.

The concept of downsizing SUVs to more manageable dimensions was grasped first by the Japanese.

By the 90s, Suzuki's Vitara, the Honda CR-V and the RAV4 from Toyota, followed by offerings from Mitsubishi, and Nissan, light SUVs had started offering similar packaging benefits to a full-sized SUV, mixed with a modicum of off-road ability and providing something like the ease of getting about that was offered by that old Carryall, the Wagoneer, Range Rover and Explorer for people on tighter budgets but with similar weekend ambitions.   

 Full Story:- http://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/lifestyle-vehicles/10172220/A-potted-history-of-the-SUV

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