Land Rover Discovery Mk1

1986 sketch of the first Land Rover Discovery

A dip back into the 1980s to admire a set of marker pen sketches by Mike Sampson. He was part of the design team for the original Land Rover Discovery model, code-named Jay.

The sketches show a 5-door car and indeed that was the plan from the project’s beginning in January 1986. When the first Discovery models arrived three years later they were initially offered only as 3-door cars, to avoid siphoning sales away from the more expensive Range Rover.

1989 Land Rover Discovery

The Discovery was heavily based on the contemporary Range Rover and indeed shared exterior items including doors and windscreen. The sketches illustrate the intent to bridge the gap between Range Rover and Land Rover.

January 1986 sketch of Land Rover Discovery mk1 by Mike Sampson

The connection with the rugged Land Rover 90 and 110 models sold in the mid-1980s is clear in the earliest sketch (above, in orange). The drawing shares the Land Rover’s upright rear, canted roof finished in contrasting white, rear-mounted spare wheel and slender “alpine” windows set above the rest of the glazing. The prominent spare and high-set windows would later become hallmarks of the finished design.

1986 sketch of the first Land Rover Discovery by Mike Sampson Double-sided styling mockup of the first Land Rover Discovery