Charles Spencer King, a British engineer who was considered the mastermind behind the Range Rover, 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 V8 engine, a forgiving coil spring suspension and a top highway speed above 100 mph. It was 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.

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.

Since its debut on June 17, 1970, the Range Rover has evolved to become an internationally recognized status symbol and pop culture icon. In the early 1970s, it was featured in an exhibit at the Louvre Museum as an example of superior industrial design.