There aren’t many cars that can claim a 68 year history during which time the fundamental design and engineering have barely changed. Sadly, the all-too familiar silhouette of the classic Defender has breathed its last as at 09:25am today, the final one rolled off the production line in Solihull. A crowd of over 700 workers and media were there to cheer it on.
The car’s history is immense – loved the world over, in the ‘Sub-zero’ section of Top Gear’s Cool Wall, respected for its abilities and used by everyone from mountain rescuers to trendy urbanites. Few cars can claim such a following. As luck would have it, we have two Defender owners here at GForces, so this is story probably best told in their words. You may pick up on a few common themes…
Daniel Yeates, Head of Infrastructure
My favourite fact about the Defender is it’s one of the few cars I would define as completely stateless. It says absolutely nothing about the person driving it inside. You could be a 35 year old man borrowing the family Defender because your modern 4×4 is being repaired (thanks Dad!), you can be a farmer, a mum doing the school run, or a businessman off to a meeting… The Defender doesn’t have a “type” it’s been adopted by everyone.
Mine’s been in our family around 10 years, and it has a very faded bumper sticker on the back which sums it up: “You can go fast, but I can go anywhere”. It’s done pretty much everything; school runs, house moves, towing a 20 tonne tanker out of a ditch, we’ve even use it for long distance. It’s also been the most reliable car we’ve ever had. Bar servicing maintenance costs have been zero. In fact every car I’ve had in that time has gone wrong and the Defender has always been my back up plan!
You always have a smile on your face when driving it and it will go anywhere I’ve done some proper off-roading and am yet to find something it can’t handle. My only complaint is when you’re driving through 3ft deep puddles you tend to get wet feet!
Seriously as a car I wouldn’t change a thing. In short – I love it.
Andrew O’Mahoney, Software Testing Manager
What do I think of my ‘Landie’? It is a car that you drive whether on or off-road, not one that you cruise in. It’s a vehicle you can drive anywhere and not be out of place, you can be in water up to the axles fording a river or driving on a motorway and neither would look odd. No other car can do this.
When you own a ‘Landie’ you join a community, there is a camaraderie with other Defender drivers and we acknowledge each other’s wisdom when we pass on the road. But there is no typical ‘Landie’ owner, we come from all walks of life, but we all appreciate one thing; an enjoyable driving experience, whether doing the weekly shopping or driving from one continent to another.
I don’t just enjoy driving my Defender, I love it.
This morning in its report, Autocar stated: “The very last model to be built was in fact the 2,016,933rd Defender. Some 9,000 parts go into each model, and a 110 Station Wagon takes 15 hours to assemble in a production process which involves 550 people.”
But the end product was so much more than this: classless, cool, go-anywhere, all-purpose transport, loved and revered by its owners and people the world over.