Those were the days
As you probably know sadly the Land Rover Defender or as it should be known, the proper Land Rover is set to pop its clogs this year after 67 years of faithful service. A car that is very much a part of our historical and actual literal (rural) landscape, a working car which has really provided the world a service, one of those default cars even a small baby would recognise. This has really got me thinking, how on earth can your replace a car like the Defender? Now there has been a lot of tough acts to follow in the industry and even ones with similarly long production live’s, but unlike the mini or the beetle the original Land Rover is a car that can never be improved upon, its a car that fits its market so perfectly and one that does its job now even better than it did way back in 1948. This is a car that needs more than just a chintsy retro styling Job to be replaced, it needs some kind of miracle from JLR’s boffins. It is often said that manufacturers need a halo car to keep the runts of their ranges interesting, some people will buy a Nissan Micra acenta 1.2 only due to the Nissan gtr and others will buy a Bmw 320d all down to the m3. The defender does the opposite of this for Land Rover, over recent years the cars have gone softer, plusher and more fashion focused with the new discovery completely indistinguishable from its 1989 origin 2 door. But the range still has credibility thanks to the workhorse defender. A car which conjures up warm images of the countryside, expedition trips and general adventure and its this car that makes people buy into the massive brand that is Land Rover.
When thinking of the Defender its hard not to firstly think about the agricultural community, a group that have bought defenders for years and when the local blacksmith could no longer fidget the ladder chassis into shape all they do is go straight to the dealership and buy another. That’s the typical Defenders circle of life . Its these people I really worry for, because i’m not so sure from some of the concepts iv seen that the new car would be suitable to hose sheep brains off from or look right to the visiting townies perusing for pheasant when the farmers markets on. The defender is stylish in an unstylish kind of way, its charm lies within its simplicity and purposefulness, there is no design flair to the car which from the side is essentially a brick. Yet despite this lack of actual design , the defender is still a style icon with a large market for companies like twisted (who i visited recently) to modify and bring up to date. But one thing stands out with these mods, they’re all made without effecting the look and ideals of the car. The cars really do fit in anywhere from Dubai to Baghdad. Its not something you can fake.
A difficult act to follow yes, but if anyone is to do it succesfully then its got to be the genius’s at JLR right? well for my money id say its iffy, lets not forget Land rover have not had a good history of late in understanding the defender. remember the last time they tried to update the styling?
Its bizarre to think just one small retro plastic grill could annoy so many people, but it did massively and the problem was quickly rectified by going right back to the bog standard look people knew and love, Defender people it seems are very scared of change.
The thing with the defender now though it seems is its a fight Land Rover can no longer afford to fight, its one they’re willing to lose to the Mitsubishi warriors of the world as slowly all the models are being pushed to the new Land Rover philosophy and that’s one of style and elegance. Money isn’t to be made from chasing the lower end of the market anymore, just look at the Freelanders replacement, the discovery sport, its starting price is almost ten grand up from the old freelandy at an eye watering £33k, Land rovers position in the market is very different from that of 60 or even 15 years ago and the defender is probably playing against the new state of the art direction. The defense for the defender in a world of tightening emission restrictions and anti social feelings towards offroading is sadly a small and insignificant one. And I think that is a sad shame, the retro mini style of cars is already feeling old to me, and the world of fashion is a notoriously flimsy one, there’s no great innovators anymore and by law no retro car can ever become a classic . In ten years I can see the land rover range being made up entirely of Range Rovers in slightly different sizes and layouts, and people will have all but forgotten the honest Landie’s of days gone by, they’ll be a relic of the 20th century and the old way. The defender will come back in name of course, but not as the workhorse we know, instead it will be the new fun car or maybe even a brand in itself, the Defenders will be the beach buggy’s of the LR stable, the cool cars which get the younger hip demographic into land rovers. A car to look good cruising through Malibu in on the way to Starbucks’s for a frozen coffee pop, it’ll be deeply sacrelegious but it’ll be popular especially in the lucrative American market (Its kind of funny that the car that copied the american jeep so cleverly would move into the market which is currently ruled by the wrangler in the states). And what about the poor old farmers? well they will remember the days they drove a land rover with teary eyes as they get behind the wheel of their Jimny’s and x-trails. They’ll have forgotten all the bad times by then, the many days they didn’t want to turn over, and the horrendous ride and many many quirks and they’ll just think “those were the days”.
Never in my life have I more wanted to be proven wrong, because I love both Jaguar and Land Rover, so please please I beg of you and your Tata owners,make the best 4x4xfar.
I Don’t imagine those low profile tyre’s will work on the green lanes.