The Driver’s Position

The Driver’s Position

Left Hand Drive is fun  

In the early 20th century, the world was divided into left- and right-hand traffic. The UK and many of its former colonies kept the right-hand-side steering wheel, while the majority of the world chose to sit on the left-hand side. Following is a short story about Land Rovers and the driving position. 

Starting with Land Rover production in the mid-1940s, Land Rover engineers thought it might be handy to put the steering wheel in the centre. The first-ever Land Rover prototype was built on a jeep chassis and had a centre steering wheel, meaning the driver sat in the middle of the vehicle. The centre steering shaft was chain driven, because obviously the engine was in the way further out. This controversial piece of engineering was forgotten early on, as they faced legislative issues in Europe and other countries. The first after this was a right-side-driver vehicle and this precedent has come a long way.

All the Land Series and Defenders up to 2016 had a right-hand position much more accommodating for the driver; hence the fact that two-thirds of the world sits on the left side. In a classic Land Rover the left-hand side is narrower, the steering wheel and seat are not fully aligned and neither of the pedals align with the seats. The legroom is tight compared to the right side. But why did this happen?  

Well, Land Rover didn’t want to make a big deal out of swapping the steering wheel side and wanted to keep the majority of the parts interchangeable. In a left-side driver vehicle, Land Rover engineers simply switched the engine controls and steering wheel to the other side while leaving the engine and gearbox positioned more to the left, leaving less space for the driver. 

But do you know what the best part is? No one really cares. And the funny seating position has become a part of the Land Rover story. It has become a part of its charisma and beauty. The seating position is a great talking point for lovers and haters of the brand; it connects the enthusiasts and is always a good topic for discussion. It also makes the very first ride a more memorable experience. And its a great reminder that these vehicles have been made hardcore and are true to the bones.  

By Vladimir Stec, owner at Heyus 

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Sources of images:  Image