After a nearly 70-year run in the Land Rover Series, it was a mournful day for adventurers everywhere in 2016 when the Defender ceased production. However, the spirit of adventure truly never dies, and in 2020, a newly remodelled Defender is slated to make its triumphant return to the road.
The history of the Defender
Based on the 1948 Series model and initially namesaked the 90, 110, or 127 depending on the chassis length, the storied Defender is an absolute British icon. Despite the technological advances of the automotive industry, the working-class hero Defender has been essentially manufactured the same way for 25 years in the Solihull production facility.
The love of the Defender doesn’t stop with the hands-on care from the hands at Solihull, Defender love extends to British royalty. Queen Elizabeth II has driven and rode in a Defender for decades, as they’ve remained a mainstay in the Royal fleet since King George VI was gifted the ceremonial 100th Land Rover ever built.
The Defender has played part in some of the world’s biggest historical events, introduced to the British military in the 1980s and taking part in Gulf War in the 1990s. The U.S. found the Defender more capable and better suited to operation in urban areas, as well as a more suitable option for air-lifting than the American Humvee.
Not only loved by the American military, but many American citizens are also Defender diehards as well. The Defender has seen its market value appreciate astronomically in the U.S. after they were pulled from roads for not meeting American safety standards. Fanatics who don’t already have one in the garage had to be willing to shell out upwards of $70,000 to get their hands on one.
What to expect for the future
In 2020, that will hopefully not be the case. At the Paris motor show in 2018, Land Rover’s chief commercial officer Felix Brautigam and its UK managing director Rawdon Glover revealed that the ‘pilot build’ project is up and running, and now, test photos of a sleek black and white camouflage prototype Defender have surfaced online. While coming from a name with a storied history, Brautigam suggests the new Defender will look to move history forward.
“The new Defender will not simply be a copy-cat, something retro,” he says, “It will be something that moves the game on for Land Rover.”