By on October 23, 2009

1995 Land Rover Defender 130 Station Wagon (courtesy 4x4offroads.com)

The birthplace of TTAC, pistonheads.com, reports that the Land Rover Defender has finally left the ramparts. I’m sure the Defender will have plenty of defenders, but I will not be amongst them. Setting aside the idea that the Defender could behave like a modern car on a normal road (a preposterous suggestion), the 25 to 61-year-old vehicle’s main selling point was its go-anywhere ruggedness and simplicity of repair (a necessity as much as a virtue). It’s been completely trounced by Toyota’s off-roaders in both not to say all departments. I’ll give the Landie its narrow track and relatively light weight, a boon to anyone who’s ever had to literally pull a vehicle out of the muck, but we are talking about a hand-built automobile with about as much passive safety as a camel. OK, less, given the relative speeds involved (close call) and all the Defender’s sharp bits. As for the future, “Apparently [the new Defender] will use either the platform from the current Range Rover Sport and LR4, (which doesn’t fill us with confidence for its mud-plugging ability, but Land Rover insists that the new car will be just as able in the rough stuff), or a significantly more advanced version of a ladder-framed vehicle.” Or, alternatively, nothing.

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23 Comments on “Land Rover Defender RIP...”


  • avatar
    N85523

    Unlike its counterpart across the ocean, the Defender’s evolution was much more sluggish, and in the end, led to its extinction. That’s really saying something, considering how slow Jeeps evolved over the years.

  • avatar

    I was shocked to see this. I don’t think they understand how such a model can be essential to the authenticity of the brand.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Perhaps they will move manufacturing to india, there is still a (small) market for such vehicles in the world, just not at what it costs to manufacture in England.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    but we are talking about a hand-built automobile with about as much passive safety as a camel

    Farago, Toyota STILL produces the FJ70 which haven’t changed a lot since the last time Reagan was at the house. That thing still uses leaf springs in the back. It’s unsafe too.

    It’s been completely trounced by Toyota’s off-roaders in both not to say all departments.

    I think they killed it because it was dead reliable. And in the case of the LC (i.e. the ones employed by UN) the sheer comfort of the thing.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Maybe Caterham with buy the tooling.

    Otherwise rnc and stingray are spot on, if production was moved somewhere cheap (India straightforwardly with Tata) this would still be a fine devloping country truck. It still looks more advanced than the equivalent Mahindra.

  • avatar
    TonUpBoi

    From what I was reading it’s being dumped because it won’t pass the Euro legislation demanding that vehicles be pedestrian friendly in a collision. AKA, too many straight sides and sharp corners. Jaywalking pedestrians can actually get hurt when hit with one of these, rather than just sliding off.

  • avatar
    Mercyedes

    Inevitable link about mentioned Toyota trucks:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrk6vsb77xk

    :-)

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    When I lived in Central America about a decade ago, there simply weren’t any Land Rovers either among the rich or the poor. Toyota ruled.

    This greatly surprised me at the time, because if there were ever a market for a vehicle that could go anywhere, wouldn’t rust, and could be fixed with a pocket knife and a pack of smokes it was (your choice Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, or Nicaragua).

    Not one.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    It’s being dropped because of European legislation. The replacement will be based on the Land Rover Discovery. Which is an extremely capable vehicle. Rumours are it will be made in Brazil, the UK, China and India and will be targeted squarely at the Landcruiser. A Pickup version may also target the F150.

    As for the defender, it’s better than the Toyota offroad, because Toyota use a switchable diff which is rubbish for anything serious! Trust me I’ve got a Landcruser stuck whilst attempting to follow a defender. Thankfully it pulled me out.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I know a company called Santana used to build Land Rovers in South Africa. Don’t know if they still do or not but when I was in Zimbabwe in 1995 the Santana Land Rovers were all over the place.

    But they still weren’t as numerous as Toyotas.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Land Rover 4x4s >>>>>> Toyota 4x4s. In the technology area. Suspension and 4×4 system has ALWAYS been superior.

    Toyota 4x4s >>>> Land Rover, in reliability.

    Down here, a car that breaks down often and have expensive parts… won’t success.

  • avatar
    FrankCanada

    My 01 Discovery trounces my 81 Diesel Land Cruiser (BJ40? Whats with that) any day of the week. But I do Get good practice patching rust holes since 1983, Inspecting broken timing gears & oil pumps if you go on a 15 degree angle. Transfer case fluid that magically overfills the transmision. 24v boosting. And twelve hour jiggling to leave four low. And not only that but you have loser FJ Cruisers waving at you. Robert Farago just say it you love all things Japan, why don’t you just marry Japan. Shesh

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Land Rover’s have atrocious reliabilty, which seems odd in a vehicle that might be driving places where the nearest auto shop is hundreds of miles away. Obviously, Toyota wins due to this.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    When I see Range Rovers, I can’t help but think somebody has way more money than common sense. Especially the older ones where the fit was so poor you could read the inflation sticker inside the drivers door – with the door closed!! Same for the smaller variants that followed. But the Defender? Now that’s an honest, anvil tough vehicle that really defined the segment. I went on a safari to Kruger National Park (South Africa) and most of the vehicles we saw were Defenders…While a Wrangler would have filled me with pride, the Defender (90?) made me feel like there was no way would I get stuck in no man’s land. When you see wild lions nearby, it’s a good feeling.

  • avatar
    russification

    nothing is good……..

  • avatar
    Nicodemus

    “Apparently [the new Defender] will use either the platform from the current Range Rover Sport and LR4, (which doesn’t fill us with confidence for its mud-plugging ability, but Land Rover insists that the new car will be just as able in the rough stuff),”

    Seriously dude, have you ever driven a Disco 3 or 4? They are one if not the most capable 4×4 on the market this side of a Unimog. That statement is ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    Robert Farago just say it you love all things Japan, why don’t you just marry Japan. Shesh

    Why are Disco owners so damned insecure?

  • avatar
    FrankCanada

    Top 10 Peoples Choice awards in Europe

    1 Land Rover Defender
    2 Fiat 500
    3 Mazda MX-5
    4 Porsche 911
    5 Audi A5
    6 Jaguar XJ
    7 Peugeot 407
    8 Porsche Cayman
    9 Daihatsu Copen
    10 Skoda Octavia

    No Toyota? Looks like people like substance over boring in Europe. Except for the Daihatsu

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Irvine

    In Central Australia all cars are 4WD. Landcruisers are not the SUV you are familiar with but the Troopie (Troop Carrier) and cars are generically referred to as Toyotas. As in “I’ll take the Toyota to town for supplies.”
    I owned a Discovery and it would go anywhere but not necessarily get you home. I sold it because every service cost me thousands to repair leaks, transmissions etc. The Defender is on another planet as far as reliability is concerned. And they do rust – just not the body panels!

  • avatar
    venator

    Sad to see it go…It was a very capable vehicle. While I have a preference for the Pinzgauer 712 and the Land Rover 101, in that particular order, in more conventionally laid-out off-road vehicles the Defender was one of the better ones.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    For several years, I lived and worked all over Africa, SE Asia, mid East ans Central Asia (the Stans), working for various agencies.

    For a civilian off road vehicle, there is one and only one choice that makes sense, especially if you’re operating a fleet – Toyota LC70 series. The LR Defender will go places an LC75/78/79 can’t, but will also break down when you get there. With proper equipment selection and skilled drivers, it doesn’t make all that much of a difference.

    Besides, for a well organized operation where you need to get to where you’re going on time, every time and you feel the LR Defender’s better performance on the axle twisters, mug bogs and river bank climbs is going to make a difference over a LC78, you should have been considering a vehicle with a planetary axle system in the first place, aka a Unimog.

    Besides, where are you really going to go where a LR Defender can make it that a LC78/9 with a winch can’t? I’d rather spend a few hours cranking a hand winch, digging out, then continuing on my way (or better yet, getting some locals to do it for a few bucks) than breaking down some place in the middle of the Congo and waiting for two weeks for a guy on a bicycle/motorcycle to come back with the right spare parts.

    Even in the bush, Land Rovers are more style than substance.

  • avatar
    Garak

    Interesting. What will our Finnish Defence Force buy now? Do we have to go back to UAZ-31512 or Lada Niva?

  • avatar
    scoot

    as a person who owns a LR defender and before that a LR series 3 and who has driven toyota land cruisers i would just like to point out that yes the toyota land cruiser is more comfortable and faster and in some aspects better engineered but, they are mainly kept running due to the owners doing the maintanence on them and not wanting to get a small dent,scratch or bit of dirt on it.
    The LR Defender is a reliable car IF you MAINTAIN and DON’T BODGE it, but people dont follow this rule because………. “its a landy its suposed to smoke, clunk and rot i’ll sort it when it falls off” this attitude is what people have and then moan about a LR for. Im not saying its the best and reliable car on the market but dont i have to worry about lack of spares or cost and with maintanance i know it will last. further more i don’t see a toyota land cruiser tearing around afgan or iraq with guns straped to the front and a bunch of soldiers ready to jump out do you?


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