Welcome to the Project Jay website
The home of the ‘Project Jay Preservation Group’.
Dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Land Rover Discovery from 1989 to 1993.
Project Jay was the code name assigned to the development of the Discovery by the Land Rover factory.
The history of the Discovery
Project Jay inspired in the Mid 80’s by the boom leisure 4 x 4 market and the need for Land Rover to design and build a product to compete with the imported Japanese market that had fast taken its market share. The Range Rover was still considered up market and the 90 & 110’s too agricultural so it was decided that a new vehicle should be built aimed at the “Middle Manager” with 2.4 children who enjoyed leisure pursuits and outdoors in his free time. At the same time new technology and development meant the launch of the 200 Tdi engine – giving what many will agree today was the product that saved Land Rover as a Company – The Discovery.
Officially launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 12th September 1989, the Discovery took the 4×4 market by storm. With its exciting new colours and Tdi engines that were giving excellent MPG. The Discovery went on sale in the UK on 16th November 1989. In 1989 alone approximately 3500 cars were sold in under two months. Sales accelerated away quickly confirming the publics’ like of the new car. Utility companies such as Electricity & Gas Boards were buying the model and Police Forces started to show an interest and purchase these cars for motorway patrol and rural beats. Again these owners added public faith to the fast growing popularity of the vehicle.
200 Tdi diesel
The 3-door cars were quickly overshadowed by the early launch of the 5-door model in 1990 that became very popular based on the reliability of the fast selling 3-door. At the same time the petrol 3.5 was upgraded to an Efi variant giving better reliability and performance, although the diesel 200 Tdi was by far the best seller. A 2.0 litre Mpi engine was added to the range to combat tax brackets for company car drivers. The 2.0 litre was underrated but many were sold in the following years.
Project Jay – test and development
Three vehicles remain from the test and development fleet. These vehicles were subject to on and off road testing, cold climate and desert heat exposure amongst other things. They were disguised heavily and carried number plates from older vehicles to disguise their age and manufacture. They also carried fibreglass shells and black paint masking making them look much like Range Rover ambulances at a passing glance. The pictures below show C742HUH in the Peak District on test and the three as they are now.
Owner: Dunsfold Collection
Owner: Charles Whitaker
Owner: Dunsfold Collection
The 1989 Launch – Plymouth, England.
This was the first new Land Rover product for almost two decades, and Land Rover decided to return to the West Country as in 1970 the Range Rover was launched in Falmouth. What better place to choose than Plymouth known as the City of Discovery.
The launch took place over five weeks in October and November 1989. Each day the cars were lined up on Plymouth Hoe ready for the press to get behind the wheel and tour Devon and Cornwall in the new Discovery. Each day a route around Devon, over Dartmoor and into Cornwall gave the journalists the opportunity to experience the new Discovery.
They visited South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh, where a Discovery pulled a train, then on to Blanchford Manor for cream teas, St Mellion Golf Club, Torpoint Ferry and Mount Edgcumbe estate.
The cars were taken at the end of each day to the Plymouth bus garage where a mini production line cleaned and repaired the cars for the following days press to enjoy.
The new 200 Tdi engine (Gemini) proved to be the most popular drive and most of the Tdi cars came in very striking new metallic paint finishes such as Arken Grey, Marseilles Blue and Foxfire Red amongst others. Some cars had electric packs, twin sunroofs, seven seats and air conditioning whilst others were basic specification. Extras such as bull bars, driving lamps and side steps were also fitted to some cars to demonstrate some early options available. No alloy wheels had been developed yet for the model but these soon followed in January 1990.
Details of the 86 G-WAC cars from the 1989 launch in Plymouth can be found following the link below. This link will open a PDF file containing details of the launch Land Rover Discoverys.
Discovery Launch Items
A selection of items that were released in 1989 at the launch of the Land Rover Discovery. Some items were released to dealers for training or promotional purposes, others were items given to the press at the Plymouth launch.
The Cubby Bag
An item which became very popular. Released in 1989 with the original press fleet this unique bag, clipped onto the centre console. It also had a shoulder strap allowing the owner to take it with them when leaving the car. Originally in sonar blue, it later also appeared in beige and was available until around 1993 when the 200 series was replaced with the 300.
Cut crystal vases
At Plymouth the press were treated to various goodies, including bound AA Road Atlas (long before sat navs!). Some were given cut crystal vases as well. These were engraved with the Discovery name and a side view of the 3 door car, as can be seen on the vase.
A painting of a Discovery rounding Plymouth Hoe was also commissioned for the launch event.
Dealers meanwhile dished out bottles of Discovery champagne. This bottle is branded for Appleyard which was dealership at the time of the launch.
Join the club
You can now join Project Jay Preservation Group!
For just £25 a year you can join PJPG and become a member of all things Jay. Additional family members can be added for just £5 for the year. You don’t need to own a “Jay” just have lots of enthusiasm!
Your membership will offer you;
- Annual membership to the PJPG club.
- Opportunity to exhibit on club stands at shows and events throughout the year.
- Regular news sheet “Jay News” delivered to your inbox.
- Much more to come in the future.
To join the club online click the following link.
If you do not wish to join online you are welcome to download and complete a membership application form and post it to us with a cheque. The membership form can be downloaded by clicking the link below.