Land Rover takes on a pet subject

 From being carsick, to wanting the windows open, needing to stop at every third tree, covering seats with body hair and emitting foul smells, dogs in cars can be both lovesome and loathsome.

And how about, as dog and owner get that bit older, trying to lift an animal into the back of a station wagon or ute?  And out again?

Now the English, for all their strange ways, have long been a bit soft when it comes to dogs, so no wonder it’s Land Rover which has developed a line of pet packs to make sure four-legged friends are content and comfortable in the cabin.

It’s all there and, with a little luck, here in Australia by Christmas – from access ramps to spill-resistant water bowls. 

There are three Premium Pet Packs, ranging in price in England from $650 to a tall $1560. The Space Protection Pack includes a quilted load space liner, luggage partition and that special water bowl; move through to the Pet Care and Access Pack and there’s also an access ramp plus … a portable shower.

“Land Rover is all about enjoying the great outdoors and that goes hand-in-hand with dog ownership for many customers,” says Land Rover’s product marketing director Finbar McFall.

Australian pricing for these pet packs will be known soonish and in the meantime check out YouTube to see some dogs enjoying a pampered ride.

Pet packs aside, it has been a busy year for Land Rover, the 70th year of a business that began in 1948. 

Since then, there has been a long line of four-wheel drive machines – some utilitarian, some bespoke luxury wagons.

This year’s anniversary celebrations have included a trip into the remote village of Sandakphu in West Bengal sitting at 3600m and accessible only by a steep and rock-strewn track. 

Up here the villagers depend on a fleet of 42 classic Land Rovers, dating back as far as 1957.

And a little closer to their home in Solihull outside Birmingham, 70 Land Rovers – from first prototypes to the super-smart and super-quick Range Rover Sport SVR – were honoured with a run up the hill at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Chief engineer for that first Land Rover Arthur Goddard, now 96, lives in Brisbane these days.

He still recalls the days shepherding fellow engineers, dealing with boss Maurice Wilks and driving that prototype to the Amsterdam motor show in 1948 for its first public outing. 

And he has a simple explanation for the four-wheel drive’s long life – the Land Rover series ran through to 2016.

“We gave people what they wanted. It’s pleased a lot of people and it’s kept on pleasing people,” Arthur says. “We met a need. I must say some of the needs we met we didn’t know were there. On the other hand, some of the stuff we thought would be an absolute winner was an absolute woof.” 

And Arthur would agree there was never any need for pet packs in those workmanlike, raw-boned Land Rovers which finished up as the square-jawed Defender model.

The next generation is likely to arrive around 2020 and hopefully will again better suit border collies than labradoodles.