Land Rover Defender - R.I.P.
Until 1989 the Defender was Land Rover. Only after the company sought a more urbane clientele, with the launch of the luxury Discovery, did it even become necessary to name the world’s most recognisable utility vehicle. Today in looks and character it’s still the same creature as the original Land Rover Series that began in 1948, a workaholic peace- and war-time icon cherished by travellers otherwise battered and exhausted by the elements, its satisfying rumble the same in Madagascar or the Outer Hebrides, now as much a part of the outdoor landscape as the mountains and deserts it traverses. The list of special editions down the years means that one hardly ever seems to see an exact copy twice, the range of ingenious practical modifications (not to mention dents, scrapes, saltwater damage, makeshift tune-ups and window stickers) giving each a personality of its own, culminating with the last Defender ever: a polychrome Paul Smith edition launched last month. The announcement that production will cease in December after 67 years, to use the cliché, feels like the end of an era. Safety and emissions regulations had been honing in on the Defender for some time, and it’s difficult to imagine that any future Land Rover will have quite the same soul again. Still, for those of us planning off-road adventures, the current lot will surely be around for some time. JD