History of the Defender
From an idea sketched out in the sand to becoming the number one, higly-adaptable global workhorse the Land Rover has been a part of so many adventures and exploits.
Always admired and often imitated by other off-road manufacturers but never more so since it ceased production, the Land Rover Defender has now achieved the status of an icon in the history of motor vehicles.
We’re so proud to be working with these iconic and amazing vehicles and here’s a few highlights of why these really are the best 4x4xfar even today.
A LEGEND IS BORN
1946 Maurice Wilks (Rover’s then Technical Director) needed to replace his beaten-up WW2 surplus Jeep. Legend has it he drew first his plan in the sand near his Anglesey beach home.
1948 One year later, the ‘Land-Rover’ Project became official. It utilised a Rover P3 engine, gearbox, and back axle.
1951 Land-Rovers out-sell all other Rover vehicles 2 to 1.
THE FIRST DECADE
1958 On it’s 10th anniversary the Series II is introduced. Wheelbase options were 88in and 109in with a 2,286cc 4 cylinder engine. Synchromesh is added to the top two gears. Now adopted by the Australian army.
PILE IN EVERYONE
1962 A 12-seater station wagon body is introduced for tax reasons. The reality of fitting 12 adults into this vehicle proved to be a bit of a tight squeeze.
THE MIGHTY THREE
1971 Series III launched with a number of mechanical refinements. Externally very similar to the IIA except for updated headlights and grill.
1976 The One Millionth Land-Rover is produced!
ENTER THE V8
1979 New development programme began to bear fruit with a V8-engined 109” Land Rover dubbed the 'Stage One' - essentially a Series III model. It had a grille flush with the wings to allow room for the larger engine.
1982 The Series III ‘County Station Wagon’ is launched to attract the well-to-do-county folk and the rural middle classes.
90 OR 110
1983-84 The much loved but aging Series III is replaced by the 90” (1984) and 110” (1983) Land Rovers. These models introduce more modern styling, and coil springs. A extra-long 130in wheelbase version is also produced.
1990 90” and 110” Land Rovers are rebranded under the ‘Defender’ name to reflect their use by defence forces. Rebranding comes with a new 200Tdi diesel engine option. The 300Tdi option followed in 1993.
EXIT THE V8
1995 The powerful V8 petrol engine now ceases production in the home market.
1996 A major new order is placed from the British military for adapted 90s and longer wheel-based 110s. The Wolf and the Pulse, have served in both Iraq wars, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.
2002 The Defender gets an upgrade for the new millennium. Changes include zinc-plated steel doors, which fitted better and allowed electric windows and central locking. Plus heated front seats.
2007 The Defender Td4 2.4 is born, new engine with a six speed wide ratio gearbox - this massively improved handling and overall 'driveability'.
2008 A special 60th anniversary edition – the SVX – is launched. Only 200 are made for the UK it included such radical additions as Recaro seats, alloy gear knobs, a USB socket and an iPod cradle.
2012 With increasing pressure to meet EU environmental targets for emissions and noise, the Defender gets a quieter, cleaner 2.2 Diesel engine.
THE LAST ONE?
2016 The last ever Defender? After a continuous run of 67 years production ended on 29 January 2016. The last ever Land Rover Defender, H166 HUE, rolled off the production line and into history.
NEVER SAY NEVER
The New 2020 Land Rover Defender launched Sept 10 2019 to mixed reviews, we're looking forward to seeing one up close but you still can’t shake the feeling that they broke the mold with the original Defender.