History of Land Rover Differentials


The original differential that Land Rover used, starting in 1947 are what are commonly referred to as the Rover differential. It is a spiral bevel design that was originally designed for Rover cars in the 1930’s. In spite of the fact that the original design is quite old, it has gone thru numerous modifications and updates and can be a very durable differential, especially with high performance aftermarket components and technologies. One can build a brutally strong Rover differential. This is, by far the most common differential ever used in Land Rovers. It is still being used to this day in 2015 Defenders, which sadly is the final year that this iconic vehicle will be produced.

The second version of differentials used in Land Rovers were the ENV diffs. They were a version of an existing American Eaton differential. This is what the E stands for. They were also used in some General Motors light trucks which are referred to as the HO72s. These were used briefly as a heavy duty option in the early 1960’s. The most notable application was the Forestry Rovers.
The ENV was a stop gap application while the Salisbury diff was under development.

The Salisbury differential was developed at the behest of the British MOD, as the existing Rover rear axle assembly was reaching the end of it’s functional life, in particular the 10 spline axle shafts. It is based on an American Dana 60 and was built under license by GKN Corporation in the UK. They became optional on long wheel base (LWB) civilian models as a dealer installed option in 1966 or so. They became standard equipment on all LWB starting with the Series 3 production. They continued as standard equipment until early 2002, at which time they were replaced by the P38 design. The Salisbury differential/axle assembly was overall the most durable axle assembly used by Land Rover.

The P38 differential was introduced in 1995 with the advent of the P38 Range Rover (1995 thru 2002) hence the name. It was used in both front and rear. The front ring and pinion set was originally a reverse rotation design, a first for Land Rover, which was sadly discontinued and superceded by the regular rotation rear gear set. This differential was also used starting in 2002 as the rear differential on Defender 110 & 130s. It was a major step backward in terms of differential durability, although P38s can be substantially upgraded using high performance aftermarket components.

Mk3 Range Rovers, Range Rover Sport, LR3, LR2 and Freelander.
We are going to skip any discussion about these as they are all later models. We can supply standard replacement components and complete subassemblies but have not developed any high performance versions of them because there has been no market demand for any of these products. If such a demand ever materializes, you can be confident that we will be on the forefront of this development.

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Coil Sprung Rovers
Classic Range Rover, Discovery 1&2, Defender 90, 110, 130

Leaf Sprung Rovers
Series 1, 2, 3 & 101 Forward Control, Santana

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