Back when Land Rover was in the hands of BMW and developing the third-generation of its iconic Range Rover SUV, there were plans in place to take the vehicle more upmarket. Even then, during the early planning phase of the Mk3 Range Rover, the management at Land Rover knew there was an opportunity to target luxury buyers in addition to its core off-roading types, and with the help of its parent company built two prototype Range Rovers powered by V-12 engines.

The guys at Autocar have managed to dig up some photos of one the original prototypes, including a shot of its engine bay which reveals a BMW-sourced V-12. The photos are proof of Land Rover’s early attempts to position the Range Rover as a high-end luxury vehicle, which it completed quite successfully with the Mk3 model despite the V-12 option never being offered to customers.

The V-12 engine was originally designed for a BMW 7-Series, and to fit in the Range Rover the SUV’s front overhang needed to be stretched. This design would have compromised the vehicle’s off-roading capability and subsequently plans for it were dropped.

Not long after, the design of the Mk3 Range Rover was complete and the vehicle launched in 2002. By this time, Land Rover was in the hands of Ford.

Given the current climate of environmental consciousness, we may never see a V-12 powered Range Rover in showrooms. However, the desire to take the vehicle further upscale is far from being over--especially with Bentley, Lamborghini and Maserati all working on new high-end SUVs of their own.

Land Rover tested the waters of launching a considerably more expensive model with its Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate Edition unveiled last year, with all 500 of them selling out relatively quick. Following the reveal of the new Mk4 Range Rover earlier today, Land Rover will now focus on plans to launch a new long-wheelbase model and this may very well be the most expensive Land Rover model we've seen yet.

Stay tuned.