This year marks the 21st anniversary of Land Rover's introduction of the Autobiography designation - then and now the pinnacle of the Range Rover model line-up. Across two decades Autobiography has denoted the ultimate combination of Land Rover design and luxury, adapting with changing customer tastes and preferences to remain a benchmark in the premium SUV market.
The Autobiography was first announced at the London motor show in late 1993 and introduced to customers the following year. The responsibility for these models has always been the work of a dedicated team using finely honed skills and attention to detail.
The earliest Autobiography Range Rovers were wholly bespoke, offering customers the opportunity to indulge their tastes in limitless varieties of paintwork colours and interior finishes. Demand was so high, Land Rover was prompted to adopt Autobiography as a limited edition version of its Range Rover, featuring the larger engine from the long-wheelbase LSE models and distinctive interior and exterior colour-ways. Just 25 were built, securing their highly prized status among connoisseurs of the marque.
To maintain exclusivity and customer appeal, Land Rover has ensured its Autobiography models remain at the cutting edge of technology features. The original publicity made much of the fact the rear console could accommodate a fax machine; since then Range Rover Autobiography has continued to set the pace with adoption of satellite navigation, television and video systems from as early as 1997.
Moving into the third generation Range Rover from 2002, Land Rover addressed increasingly sophisticated customer infotainment tastes with the introduction of concert hall-quality audio packages and a multi-play DVD system. Customers could specify myriad details, from the colour of the sheepskin rugs to type of wood used for cabin trims. Anyone who wanted something more exclusive only had to ask - and many did.
In 2011, Land Rover crafted its most expensive Range Rover yet, the 500 Autobiography. With a starting price of £120,000, it was targeted at the chauffeur-driven market and represented a new high in luxury ahead of the arrival of the fourth generation Range Rover in 2013.
The current model, with its advanced lightweight aluminium construction, has adopted its own interpretation of the Autobiography concept with the Range Rover Autobiography Black. The preparation of the these models is handled by Special Vehicle Operations, headed by John Edwards, and responsible for engineering and manufacturing the most exclusive Land Rover model derivatives.
The vehicle is a full-blooded expression of what today's Range Rover represents, using high-quality leather and materials allied to a supremely modern and individual design. Features include a full-length panoramic roof, seats with integrated climate control and massage functions and the option of an executive twin rear-seat design with an extended centre console housing USB connection, a sophisticated entertainment system with independent 10.2-inch screens and electrically deploying leather-finished tables.
John Edwards, Managing Director of Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations, said: "For 21 years, Autobiography has given our customers the chance to specify the most luxurious Range Rovers according to their tastes and desires. Within Special Vehicle Operations we are continuing this tradition. The latest Autobiography Black has greater levels of luxury and sophistication than ever before and even more opportunities for personalisation.'
Current and forthcoming Autobiography models will be built by the Special Vehicle Operations team, which is transferring to a new technical centre. This will include a customer commissioning suite for bespoke services and premium vehicle personalisation, flexible workshops and a fully automated paint facility.
Autobiography luxury has also been extended further across the Land Rover line-up to the Range Rover Evoque and most recently to the iconic Defender. These models have consolidated their appeal as top of the range Autobiography models, promising more performance, luxury and comfort than ever before.