Charles Spencer King, a British engineer who was considered the mastermind behind the Range Rover, a hardy yet comfortable off-roader originally conceived as country estate carryall that has since become the swank sport utility vehicle of choice for royalty, rappers and millionaires, died June 26 of injuries suffered in an accident. He was 85.
Two weeks ago, he was riding a bicycle on daily errands near his home in the village of Cubbington, England, when he was struck by a delivery van.
King started working for the British Rover company in 1945 under the direction of his uncles, Maurice and Spencer Wilks. In the late 1960s, he was tasked by his uncles with developing a four-wheel-drive luxury model that would be as at home crawling over rough country terrain as it was jetting across town toting polo mallets and golf clubs.
The result was the Range Rover, an off-road vehicle with a powerful V-8 engine, a forgiving coil spring suspension and a top highway speed above 100 mph.
In 1999, Global Automotive Elections Foundation picked the Range Rover as one of the top cars of the century and King as one of the best engineers.
The vehicle has appeared in several movies, including the 2008 James Bond action flick, "Quantum of Solace," and in the lyrics of dozens of rap songs, including jams by Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nelly and The Game.
Survivors include two children, Christopher King of Maidenhead, outside London, and Penny Walker of London; and two granddaughters.
- The Washington Post