Skip to content

Iconic Land Rover Defender to end production

The Land Rover Defender has been in production for an incredible 67 years. Along with the Willys Jeep, it was one of the first hardcore four wheel drive vehicles and has since seen service in the armed forces and been deployed by farmers, adventurers and safari guides the world over. Since its launch in 1948, it has sold around two million units and has had many famous drivers, including the Queen.

The Land Rover Defender has been in production for an incredible 67 years. Along with the Willys Jeep, it was one of the first hardcore four wheel drive vehicles and has since seen service in the armed forces and been deployed by farmers, adventurers and safari guides the world over. Since its launch in 1948, it has sold around two million units and has had many famous drivers, including the Queen. Sadly, though, its long life is about to come to an end and this grizzly old veteran has finally been defeated, not by steep hills or wide rivers, but by emissions regulations.

The Defender is a truly great car and that greatness can be glimpsed in the little nugget about the Queen driving one. This is a classless car: an icon of Britain that welcomes the aristocrat and the artisan into its driving seat, where both will feel just as at home. The original Defender was built out of leftover aluminium from the Second World War and that familiar green paint finish came from old RAF aeroplane paint. This was not a car which told the world anything at all about your status, bank balance or lineage. The greatness of the Land Rover Defender instead came from its complete and utter focus on the job at hand.

That first 'Landy' could operate as a tractor, a generator and took on countless other tasks in addition to the mundane job of driving people around. It had permanent four wheel drive and featured a separate chassis and bolt-on body construction. This meant that different bodies could easily be added, further increasing the Defender's versatility. This system was so successful that it is still used on Defenders today and their ruggedness is reflected in the fact that of those two million cars built over the last 67 years, 70% are still in use today.

The Land Rover Defender is also an important car. It spawned the Range Rover and, it could be argued, gave birth to an entire new genre of car, the SUV. It is an astonishing fact that it is reckoned that when remote tribes see their first car, 60% of the time that car is a Land Rover Defender. Now, all that is about to come to an end. A planet that has been opened up by the Defender now needs to be saved by that car's demise. Whatever comes in its place will need to be very different but if it is even half as good, Land Rover will have another winner on its hands.

Posted by on

Back to October 2013

Back to top