It’s taken a while to get used to the idea of losing an icon.
Your first drive in a Land Rover is something which, to the delight of marketing departments selling you something related to the green oval, will make a lasting impression.
The bumpy ride is to be expected of a car with that transmission whine, as is the fight to get the steering wheel to do what is says on the tin.
Later models of Defender took the Series mantle into new levels of power, but never refinement. Elbows and knees still had to be padded to be sure they’d avoid bruising. You could always spot a Defender-driver on an aeroplane; in conversations about how little room you get, their blank faces are a dead give-away.
Great for shifting recalcitrant rams and elusive ewes, even in County trim there was an unbreakable genetic marker, a Neanderthal eyebrow, a hairy top lip, which couldn’t be beaten. Even if you broke it and needed Land Rover Parts, chances are a small sapling could stand in for a leaf spring, or a railway girder for a chassis arm.
The Land Rover Serviced us, in its Series and Defender guises, as a working machine. You drive it somewhere and get it muddy, then you get muddy, then you drive back. Then you leave it in the rain, or else get it more muddy inside and out, as you need.
Washing could be done with a hose pipe inside or out (until computers and ‘entertainment centers’ wormed their way inside).
This may have been the root of why we love them; it’s like having a farm dog. Chase across a field, through a bog, into the yard and chuck some cold water over it. Job Done. It’ll sit there and (I may have been hallucinating) wag it’s tail at you.
But times change and the current owners need something else, something they can sell on a smartphone gel-cover. The i-Rover, innit bruv.
So some time in 2015, with 4 other soft-roaders in the line up, the DC100 will to follow the herd.
Round corners rather than rounding up the sheep.
Bluetooth rather than blue tongue.
Chelsea Tractor rather than chase-a-tractor.
It’ll still be technologically superb, still a ground-breaking, mile-munching, Sierra-Striding (the mountains, not the repmobile) offroad behemoth. Probably.
So let the cry go out.
THE KING IS DEAD
LONG LIVE THE KING
- Report: Land Rover ending Defender production after 67 years (autoblog.com)
- Next-gen Land Rover Freelander will receive Defender nameplate – report (worldcarfans.com)
- Land Rover Defender production ends (bbc.co.uk)
- Emission rules to end Land Rover Defender Production (bbc.co.uk)
- Owners lament loss of Land Rover Defender (bbc.co.uk)
We don’t sell saplings or railroad girders, but we can order them in.
This article was written by Rupert Astbury