Land Rover Defender RIP

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The birthplace of TTAC,, 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.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Venator Venator on Oct 24, 2009

    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.

  • Signal11 Signal11 on Oct 25, 2009

    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.

  • Garak Garak on Oct 26, 2009

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

  • Scoot Scoot on Apr 11, 2010

    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?