The sun never sets over the British empire, or at least that used to be the case when this colonial powerhouse controlled vast swaths of the planet’s surface. Regrettably, it’s twilight for another English icon, the Land Rover Defender.
Production of this legendary off-road vehicle is set to end in January and we’re not certain whether a replacement model is in the works or not.
This rugged vehicle has been in production, essentially unchanged for the past 70 years. A favorite of royalty and rural-types alike, it’s served on battle fields and hot-spots around the world and of course has been a prominent star in all kinds of media.
Body panels that are as flat as sheets of drywall, a vertical windshield, roof-rack, externally mounted spare tire, these anachronisms make the Defender look like something from a different era, which is convenient because it really is a time machine.
First introduced in 1948, this utility was designed for rugged simplicity. Supposedly its configuration was initially sketched out on sand at the beach. Who says you need computers to design a vehicle?
Underscoring just how outmoded it is, the Defender emits twice as much CO2 as allowed by current European standards, is woefully bad in pedestrian crash tests and offers practically none of the technology or creature comforts modern drivers crave. There’s no navigation, touch-screen displays, Bluetooth connectivity or USB ports for charging your tablet or phone.
What is Land Rover to do? It seems shameful to NOT offer a proper replacement for the legendary Defender. Despite its anachronisms the company is still expected to deliver around 20,000 of them this year, an incredible figure for a vehicle that was introduced seven decades ago. It’s priced from around $35,100 and comes in a dizzying array of body styles, from pickup-truck variants, to a chassis-cab version, traditional SUV configurations to a full-on station wagon.
Perhaps Land Rover can follow the formula Jeep pioneered with its ever-popular Wrangler. They’ve managed to keep it current yet true to its roots at the same time. MINI has managed a similar feat with its retro-inspired small cars. Hopefully there’s a bright future for the Defender nameplate.
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[Source: Automotive News]