The word icon tends to be overused these days, but in the case of the Land Rover Defender it’s well justified. Few vehicles, other than perhaps the original VW Beetle, are so instantly recognisable and have had such a long production life.
But in January this year the last Defender rolled off the line at the company’s Solihull factory. More than two million having been built since the model’s introduction in 1948
Child of Austerity
The utilitarian design of the Defender was born out of the era of post-war austerity. Designed as practical vehicle for farmers, it made a virtue of the steel shortage by having its body panels made of aluminium. This of course meant that the bodies don’t rust, which no doubt contributes to the fact that over 70 per cent of those built are still around.
The Land Rover’s ruggedness and off-read ability meant that it was quickly adopted by armed forces and public utilities. It was also exported around the world as well as being a popular choice for many expeditions – it’s reckoned that a Land Rover is the first vehicle that around a third of the Earth’s population ever saw.
Of course, the Defender has evolved over the years and received better engines and extra luxury touches like heaters and radios. However, it remains classless: it’s just as likely to be driven by the tenant farmer or gamekeeper as it is by the lord of the manor – even the Queen has one. Whether it’s spattered with mud or polished up to concourse standard, a Land Rover seldom looks out of place.
Prices of early Land Rovers are already climbing now the model had ceased production. You can still get more recent examples second-hand at reasonable prices, though. If you need guaranteed car finance in Portsmouth to buy your Land Rover, a company such as http://www.rightdrive.co.uk can help you get behind the wheel.
With a Defender you’re not just buying a car: you’re buying a slice of British heritage. Because they last so long, they’re also a surprisingly green choice. Land Rovers may not be the most economical in terms of fuel use, but because they last for many years, the carbon footprint over the lifetime of the vehicle is remarkably low.