back to article Land Rover's return: Last orders and leather seats for Defender nerds

We all know there’s only on one true Land Rover: the Defender. A cheerful, competent, boxy-shaped device that’s been in production since 1948, inspired by the Jeep, the Allies' WWII workhorse. It looks as good pulling logs from a forest as it does pulling up outside a house in Mayfair and it was voted Greatest Car of All Time …

  1. Timmay

    I must be misunderstanding something - if these bad boys are so easily customisable, why is it so hard to put in a nice clean Euro VI or VII (or whatever it will be in 2020) compliant engine?

    Or if it's the average of a company's range of vehicles which have to be below an amount of something, do what Aston Martin did and have one small model to balance it out?

    1. AndyS

      I've been wondering that too, since there is no shortage of certified engines which could pull a defender just fine.

      I suspect it's because they would be looking at a full ground-up redesign, and the bean-counters have probably discounted it. Maybe it's not really making money as it is anyway? I'd also be very surprised if the tooling isn't moved elsewhere (Brazil, China, Eastern Europe) for a tidy profit. The original Beetle was still produced in Brazil this way until a couple of years ago.

      Finally Land Rover is a much bigger manufacturer than the niche sports brands. I suspect that what will work for a tiny company won't work for a mass-market manufacturer. I think the "average" emissions only really kicks in once you're over a certain size, and I suspect the aggressive launch of the Evoque has a lot to do with this. For its size, it's surprisingly economical.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      As I understand it the critical factor isn't emissions but crash safety for pedestrians. That's not going to be fixed by an engine swap.

      It looks as if they're going to build a replacement in eastern Europe with a monocoque body on a steel chassis. I can't quite see how that's going to lend itself to all the military versions.

      1. david bates

        Also its very, very expensive to build. You watch a Range Rover being glued and riveted together by huge robots, and watch Defenders being built by hand - they even have to align the headlamps still. They're mainly toys now, sold to rich city boys.

        I suspect the line will find its way to India, when manual labour is cheaper, and then some will find themselves imported. Dunno where the legislation thats killing the Defender leaves Santana though (assuming they still make Defender-esque vehicles)

        1. fruitoftheloon

          @david bates - rich boys toys wh


          You may believe that many Landies are rich boys toys.

          Methinks that the many farmers hereabouts (Devon) would fervently disagree with you...




          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: @david bates - rich boys toys wh

            After the Defender, does anyone know of another machine with its virtues?

            I mean one that you can stand on the roof, or a farmer in a barn with a spanner can fix up with a mail order panel if one gets battered etc?

            There are any number of supposedly "superior" 4WD vehicles but they are all great as long life stays within certain parameters. For true in the field robustness and repair, the '48 design is quite special.

            1. Phuq Witt
              Thumb Up

              Re: @david bates - rich boys toys wh

              "...After the Defender, does anyone know of another machine with its virtues?..."

              The Toyota Landcruiser 'Troopy' –it's what the Defender could have been, if they'd built them with Japanese technology.

              Sigh! –if only:

              A: I had the money

              B: The Aussies didn't nab most of them as they roll iff the production lines.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @david bates - rich boys toys wh

              For a long time, the 2CV was the farm vehicle of choice in France for precisely this reason. Any farmer could fix one up with a wrench and a hammer in the back barn. I always wondered how on earth they got anywhere in the typical farm muck with only 2WD. On the other hand the French don't mind if things take time, c'est la vie and all that.

            3. cream wobbly

              Re: @david bates - rich boys toys wh

              The clue is in the article... a Fiat made by yanks.

              The Land Rover was inspired by the old Willys GP, which after changing hands many times, became the Jeep, then changed hands some more. Considering it's still being made, I reckon the changes of ownership did it some good, and got the whole thing revised.

              Maybe someone will make a Landie body kit for a Wrangler?

            4. jelabarre59

              Re: @david bates - rich boys toys wh

              > I mean one that you can stand on the roof, or a farmer in a barn with a spanner can fix up with a mail order panel if one gets battered etc?

              Don't kid yourself; that's *exactly* why they want to get rid of it. Can't have folks fixing it by themselves when the dealership could be charging 10X the price to do it for you. I've said something similar about the VW BogusBeetle; if you can't fix it yourself in your garage with minimal tools, it's not a *real* Beetle.

          2. zapper

            Re: @david bates - rich boys toys wh

            And in in sunny Watford, where my 1986 '90/Defender mix (its a long story) gets used to tow a RiB down to the south coast for diving. Sadly I cannot run it into London due to the current Low Emission Zone (It was classed as a van for some reason)

        2. Dr_N Silver badge

          Santana died a death years ago.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge


        "As I understand it the critical factor isn't emissions but crash safety for pedestrians. "

        It's all round safety. Range Rovers and Land Rovers are mostly exempt from EU crash safety requirements as the chassis are virtually unchanged from initial production, long before those regulations came into effect all those years ago.

        Pedestrian safety is affected by the externals, so that's what's driving the runout of the range - changes necessary to comply with that mean chassis changes and that in turn means the grandfathering goes away.

        On top of that, Defenders/90/110/Serieswhatever haven't been road legal in North America since 1993, so that's a large chunk of the market they're locked out of (even before then, North American units had to have a roll cage integrated to be able to be sold.)

        In the real world such grandfathering should have only been allowed to continue for 3-4 years at most.

        The last LR I had to put up with was a series 2 back in the early 80s. Compared to Nissan's Patrol and Toyota's Landcruiser it was atrocious (Shocking on-road handling, unreliable electrics, gutless, thirsty, high maintenance and couldn't handle conditions in NZ mountains in winter that the other two didn't have trouble with) so I was glad to see the back of it as a work wagon.

        I gather they improved a lot after that but the damage had already been done ("Made in Britain" was already regarded as a warning label in the 1970s, but government directives mean that many organisations ended up buying british machinery long after the vast superiority of japanese-sourced stuff was apparent to everyone).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          Re: safety

          The last LR I had to put up with was a series 2 back in the early 80s

          A car that went out of production in 1961. Good comparison.

        2. Mayhem

          Re: safety @Alan Brown

          We had an ex-NZFS Series 2a for most of the 80s, still had all the speed limits for Kaingaroa, Kinleith etc printed on the firewall. Was still going well but struggled to pull our new trailer yacht so we got a SWB Series 3 instead with the bigger petrol engine and an LPG mod for cheaper running.

          The Series 3 would never win any speed records thanks to the gearbox - it topped out somewhere around 110 but the needle would swing from 100-120 so you kinda had to guess. Sounded like a banshee on heat and was about as economical as a brick. But as a work vehicle for a marine environment it was brilliant - you could leave it parked for a week or three and not worry about rust. It pulled a 2.5 ton load without complaint and had the low range to get it in and out of the drink. The narrow wheels also sliced nicely through the slime on the boat ramps, so we pulled our share of weekend warriors out as well.

          Aye, the electrics were notoriously bad, but trivial to rewire, and I never forgot someone slamming into the back at some traffic lights and all he did was clean the surface rust off my towball with his radiator. You also never had to worry about cold feet, that was what the firewall was for.

          I do remember there being some kind of black market trade in halfshafts - we had both sides pinched out of the wheels at different times, and I always had a couple of spares rolled up under a seat along with a crown or two. Very odd, they weren't terribly expensive parts as they were basically a mechanical fuse.

          Fond memories.

      3. John Sturdy

        But it could be fixed by a redesign of the front end of the bodywork, like the Belgian "Minerva" variant with a sloped front.

    3. Lars Silver badge

      "because it cannot meet (or be made to meet) new car emission rules from the European Council that kick in in 2020." (Five years from now!!!). What about emission rules in the USA in 2020.

      Blame the EU, just kidding but then again "Remarkably, the vehicles are still put together largely by hand".

      How remarkable you lost that industry.

      As I remember Britain was the last country in Western Europe to stop using arsenic in paint because some lad had a mountain of it. Is something similar going on here.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Fuel economy requirements

      The new fuel economy rules cannot be met by something which has the aerodynamics of a shed on wheels. Let's face, cute as it may be the Defender has outlived its time. If you want an agricultural utility 4x4 these days you are better off with an Isuzu or L200.

      Not sure if they are compliant to the new rules either, but they at least stand a chance to be (the Isuzu can do 45 mpg+, the L200 is not far behind).

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Fuel economy requirements

        Not sure if they are compliant to the new rules either, but they at least stand a chance to be (the Isuzu can do 45 mpg+, the L200 is not far behind).


        I have a 2015 L200 Barbarian. Ok. it's the auto variant, but on a run from Gatwick to t' Northshire starting at 2am (so no traffic to speak of), keeping at a steady cruise-controlled 80mph (72mph on the sat nav) it returned just under 21mpg.

        And before you say there's something wrong with it - there was something wrong with the one prior to it that Mitsubishi eventually swapped. That one, the many loan vehicles and this one (varying between auto and manual boxes, too) never returned much better even if driven like a granny on downers.

        1. Rob

          Re: Fuel economy requirements

          I usually find cruise control kills any good mpg you may be able to achieve. It's designed to maintain your speed not give you good mpg.

          1. TonyJ Silver badge

            Re: Fuel economy requirements

            On a straight, uncluttered road it doesn't - it maintains constant speed and therefore pretty constant RPM.

            Where it tends to kill it is when people brake, slowing down and turning it off, but then flick it back on resume when they go over 30 or so and the vehicle then tries to rev itself to get back to that speed.

            And I get the same unflattering results whether used or not - that was just one example.

            And yet my 3 litre, V6 A5 Quattro with permant 4 wheel drive could comfortably come in at over 40mpg. Cruise or not.

            And yes, I realise it's apples and oranges to a large extent but permanent 4wd is usually an mpg killer.

          2. fruitoftheloon
            Thumb Up

            @Rob cruise control Re: Fuel economy requirements


            Conversely I have always found cc to improve my mpg, I assume because I then don't get too lead-footed...



          3. cream wobbly

            Re: Fuel economy requirements

            Absolutely correct. Which is why you were voted down by Reg readers...

            To return good MPG at an approximate speed, a cruise control system would need to know about terrain, and weather conditions; and while we're at it, filling station locations, traffic conditions, and road works; and while we're at it, speed limits and speed trap locations. If it's doing all that, it might as well do the steering and gear changes for you, and start and stop. And why bother with roads then? May as well put it on metal rails and hook it up to all the rest of the travelers. And then in a fit of cost-reduction, axe the computer control (except for the automatic stopping and speed limit monitoring) and put a little man at the front with a nifty cap. And a whistle.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Fuel economy requirements

          My Discovery 2 auto is more economical than that!

          1. TonyJ Silver badge

            Re: Fuel economy requirements

            My Discovery 2 auto is more economical than that!

            I think most things are more economical than that. It's shocking, really. I haven't had a chance to test how badly it returns doing any serious 4 wheel drive stuff yet.

            I bought it primarily to carry dive kit to mountainous regions for cave diving as a) two sets of kit for several days didn't fit well into the Audi, b) neither did two growing kids and c) I am sure the wet kit in the boot was the reason the boot-mounted amplifier blew up (apparently - I didn't tend to use either the nav or radio that often so I have no idea when it went - I only found out after the dealer told me it was kaput).

        3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Fuel economy requirements


          1. Did you inflate your tires to motorway pressure? The "book" pressure is for offroad / mixed driving. F.e. my Isuzu Denver 2007 manual does ~ 32 mpg at its preferred UK speed of 65 (reported by satnav), inflating the tires 20% above that gets this to 38.5. Similarly, 90 mph on the Autobahn 27 mpg with "book" pressure and 32 mpg with 20% above that. This is with Nexen tractor-like tires which have the most atrocious and fuel economy-unfriendly 4x4 thread you can think of. General Grabbers happily get you to 40mpg+ driving like a granny at 65 (the bloody Isuzu dashboard computer decides that its a fault and reports 40 from there onwards).

          The new model adds 5mpg to that (6th gear is quite useful)

          2. Is your load area covered? If you do not have a solid lid your aerodynamics go to hell. That is 5mpg at motorway speeds right there.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Fuel economy requirements

        "The new fuel economy rules cannot be met by something which has the aerodynamics of a shed on wheels. "

        Aerodynamics are irrelevant below ~45mph and any 4x4 which is doing what it's designed for spends almost all its operating life below those speeds.

        You wouldn't really want to drive a series2 past 45 anyway. It got "interesting" in a lot of uncomfortable ways.

  2. AndyS

    "Body in White"

    This is a standard term for any vehicle, built to standard specification and before customer-ordered specifics such as custom interiors or (and hence the name) paintwork is added.

    Wikipedia makes it sound a bit more archaic, talking about white-primed wooden structure, but where I used to work we would build two types of vehicle. The majority were for a customer, fully prepped and ready to go. The second were the body-in-whites, for re-sellers, leasers etc, who would want a pool of stock vehicles that they could sell/lease on. Guess what colour the second group were painted?

    1. Kristian Walsh

      Re: "Body in White"

      Your company's usage is at odds with the rest of the motor industry's, though. It sounds like someone al long time ago conflated the terms "Body in White" and "White-label".

      The "body in white" is the structural frame and attached body panels, including doors, but with no engine, seats, trim or other accessories: basically it's the bits of the car that go through the paint shop.

      Whenever manufacturers talk about weight reduction measures, they're careful to mention that it's "body in white weight", because with the increasing amount of accessories fitted to cars these days, you can shave 50 kg off the body-in-white, and still end up with a car that's 10 kg heavier than its predecessor.

      1. killban1971

        Re: "Body in White"

        "Shave" 50kg off a BIW structure? BIW for a mid sized steel saloon is around 400kg, then the chassis boys bolt on their "lightweight" cast iron parts, the electircal boys shove in every toy they can think of, and it's capped off with a layer of rag and fluff from the interior trim chaps.

        The carefully honed and weight optimised BIW has been turned into a 1500kg lump, and BIW get the blame for making yet another heavy car.

        Steel BIW - 400kg approx

        Aluminium BIW - 300kg approx

        CFRP BIW - 200kg approx


        Mines the one with the 27 years of BIW experience in the pocket...

    2. Peter Depledge

      Re: "Body in White"

      "Body in White" is simply that. the body is assembled and primed.

      All LR bodies (not sure about the monocoques) are primed in white primer.

      That's why LR Experience used to use white vehicles for their off road training courses. Other colours show the scratches more. eg green topcoat is scratched to reveal white primer.

  3. nilfs2

    Programed obsolescence

    The Land Rover Defender is one of the last cars challenging Programed Obsolescence, nobody wants to build a car that lasts forever anymore, the good thing though, is that parts for older models will be available again by the heritage division of JLR

    Hopefully they will have stick sets and canvas tops available at sensible prices for my 1961 88" Series 2.

    1. Otto is a bear.

      Re: Programed obsolescence

      I seem to remember that the Land Rover defender has a ridiculously long life, with a surprisingly high percentage of those made in any year still running.

      Also, Land Rover have designed a replacement, not sure when it's due.

  4. fruitoftheloon

    The downsides of Landy ownership...

    Whilst I have always yearned for classic Defender, they are regretably out of ones' price range at the mo...

    Plus even if I could afford a new one, I wouldn't spend my £ on one due to the truly shocking build quality.

    My neighbour has a lovely looking new (as in 3 weeks old) silver 110, many of the visible bolts are already rusty, there is bubbling around the windscreen brackets amongst other places.



    1. Will 30

      Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

      They tend to be like this even on the forecourt. Absolute crap.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

        The showroom LRs always had a tray underneath them to catch the oil drips.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

          But without the tray it would just soak back into the ground where it could be pumped out by future generations - recycling at its best

        2. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

          You do know how the oil refill indication works on a LR right? If it stops leaking it needs more oil.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

            My 2003 Discovery doesn't normally leak oil.

            It did once, just nipped up the canister oil filter a littl emore

        3. RainForestGuppy

          Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

          Would that be the BMW or Ford engines???

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

            If me, neither, mine has a Land Rover engine, definately not Ford (Transit) nor BMW (the 6s)

        4. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: The downsides of Landy ownership...

          > The showroom LRs always had a tray underneath them to catch the oil drips.

          A friend told me a tale about our local LR dealer, those in the know will recognise it in a moment ...

          Some bods from LR were round, saw the nice Coniston slate (from the local quarry) floor, and mentioned that it didn't meet LRs specifications for a showroom - specifically that it be carpeted. Apparently a reply was long the lines of "when you make them without drips, we'll carpet the floor". That was some years ago - the floor is still nice Coniston slate AFAIK :)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aluminium body on an steel frame just ripe for electrolytic corrosion which has always plagued the classic land rover.

  6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "versions that run on rails"

    I think my first memory of an "unusual" Land Rover was from a magazine printed in the early 70's called Speed & Power which my brother used to buy. I remember a photo in there showing a Land Rover with railway wheel hooked up to a couple of flatbeds rail wagons loaded up with Land Rovers. There might also have been a photo of the tracked one in the article as that looked familiar when I saw it.

    That magazine was also one of the primary reasons I got into SF. There was a short story near the back of each issue, the most memorable ones being the short Arthur C. Clarke series starting with huge futuristic airship (it crashed) and the now cyborged main character in the follow-up piloting a hot air balloon in the heights of Jupiter's atmosphere. Oh yes, and the Clark story about a sun sail powered race in space. 60-70 years later we are seeing prototype cargo carrying airships and more prototyping with solar sails.

    1. David Given

      Re: "versions that run on rails"

      ...huh, I didn't know _A Meeting With Medusa_ was the second in a series --- can you remember what the original was called?

      Also, run away, don't walk:

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "versions that run on rails"

        A quick search led me to wikipedia which tells me it was all one story, but longer than the magazine published so they must have split it into two episode at the natural break between the airship crash and the trip to Jupiter. It made an impression on me in that form so although I've certainly read it since then (but not for a long time) it's still lodged in my brain as two stories. Thinking about it now, it was only a page or two with a couple of pics so even that was probably abridged.

    2. Ed 13

      Re: "versions that run on rails"

      The Statfold Barn Railway have one that runs on 2ft gauge rails:

      Hunslet Rail Land Rover

  7. Maty

    the kudu

    Mention must also be made of the Kudu armored personnel carrier built on a Landrover base by the Rhodesian security forces. A model of this weird-looking beast can be seen here ...

  8. spegru

    I'm quite sure thr reasons for demise are nothing to do with emissions as those are easily fixed with a different engine as it has received many time over the years anyway. Nope I'm pretty sure the reason is profitability in manufacture - it's all that hand mad stuff that's seen it' demise. Still using 1940s manufacturing techniques does not make business sense in the 20 teens.

    Leaves a gap in the range tho - after all this is where LR gets its pedigree from. There have been enough renditions of a replacement after all but there is no reason it needs to have a separate chassis...

  9. regadpellagru

    LR 90 to be purchased, here

    Funny to see an article on LRs, here at El Reg, as I'm on track to buy a 90 from 15 years ago.

    It's superb, but will cost me 14 kE (only 60 000 km).

    That's gonna replace a Toyota Prado, as it's called in Australia, where it's common.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: LR 90 to be purchased, here

      Hmm 2000, so it has a decent engine then!

  10. BitDr


    I dinna understand pedestrian crash safety requirements. When a big heavy fast moving object (a motor vehicle) hits a stupid meandering idiot (pedestrian with headphones on listening to music while texting or surfing the Internet on their fondle-slab) the aforementioned sensory deprived idiot is going to get severely hurt.

    It's going to be mayhem when these fools start expecting vehicles to automatically stop when they step into traffic. We're all going to have to drive vehicles that look like scaled up marshmallows. Either that or we're going to have to require that every pedestrian wear an airbag suit that automatically inflates when it senses an impending impact with a motor vehicle. Perhaps some nice peril sensitive sunglasses to go with that suit?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Madness...

      Visiting my parents I noticed a small paint mark on the front bumper of my Series "A" Range Rover - presumably a car park nudge from someone. A few days later my parents' next door neighbour came to apologise. He had reversed out of his drive as normal without realising I was parked outside my parents. His car's nearside back was extremely crumpled.

      The Range Rover bumpers - as in the Land Rover - are very solid iron bars bolted to the ends of the chassis. Forget the tactic of gently touching the neighbouring cars' bumpers in tight kerbside parking.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Madness...

        Just how tough range rovers are:

        A testament to British Engineering.

    2. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Madness...

      I will try to explain you then, in short simple words: Now and then, the stupid idiot is meandering the vehicle (due to use of mobile phone, in-law backseat driver, attractive persons of other (or same) sex in the surroundings, or all of the above) and thereby hitting pedestrians.

      Pedestrians are more likely to survive and/or avoid disability when the front of the impacting vehicle is low and sloping, as well as deformable.

      As research showed in the UK about 20 years ago, fitting bull-bars to your "sports-tractor" meant you could achieve the same injures on pedestrians at 20MPH as would otherwise require 30MPH.

      Simple enough?

      1. BitDr

        Re: Madness...

        No. There is no technology that can cure stupidity (yet), be it the driver or the pedestrian that is at fault. Drivers and pedestrians must drive and walk defensively. Or, to use simple words, be careful!

        1. Afernie

          Re: Madness...

          "No. There is no technology that can cure stupidity (yet), be it the driver or the pedestrian that is at fault. Drivers and pedestrians must drive and walk defensively. Or, to use simple words, be careful!"

          Is there any technology that can cure childhood? Much as I hate playing that card, not all pedestrians are stupid. Some of them are small, and less capable of evaluating risk than you or I.

          1. nijam Silver badge

            Re: Madness...

            > Is there any technology that can cure childhood?

            Yes, it's called parenting. Like common sense, it also is being steadily eliminated, of course.

          2. BitDr

            Re: Madness...

            Agreed, not all pedestrians are stupid; nor are all cyclists or drivers, that said, it does not take a majority to have those in health and safety going off on a tangent. All of us must be more cautious, more respectful of each other, and more aware of our mortality when in an environment of large fast-moving machinery.

        2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Madness...

          There is no technology that can cure stupidity (yet), be it the driver or the pedestrian that is at fault. Drivers and pedestrians must drive and walk defensively.

          Yes, drivers and pedestrians have an equal obligation to be careful. The reason that the driver, and the vehicle manufacturer, have greater obligations is that the outcome is almost invariably worse for the pedestrian. Injury to drivers as a result of collision with pedestrians is not common.

      2. markp 1

        Re: Madness...

        This looks suddenly very benign in light of more recent events...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Madness...

      You have to realise that the USA is genetically engineering out that silly trait called Common Sense from humankind.

      Even a labelling pat of butter in a restaurant has to contain the warning 'contains milk' (Doh!)

      The new breed of USAians called Lawyers are there to ensure the rapid elimination of this trait.

      All Americans must be protected from their own stupidity by Lawyers.

      The Landie is a menace to every citizen because you don't bounce off them.

      I drove one when I lived in NH. I used to pull a good few American 4x4's out of ditches because the idiot drivers are not taught how to drive their 'palace of isolations' properly in adverse conditions.

      Now in an age of monster F150's (and GM equivalents) the LR, Disco etc is a bit of a relic despite seeing a Discovery haul out a huge pickup from a ditch only today in the Black Hills of SD.

      1. jelabarre59

        Re: Madness...

        > You have to realise that the USA is genetically engineering out that silly trait called Common Sense from humankind.

        Common Sense was outlawed a couple of years back in the USA (I think shortly after Obama was elected to his second term). Those of us with a modicum of brain cells have to meet clandestinely to have a moment's respite from Snooki and the Kardashins.

    4. markp 1

      Re: Madness...

      Well, there apparently exists a motorcycle jacket version of the same... or at least, a prototype was shown off. Thing is it's normally not those parts that take the most damage...

      Anyway, I've long been in favour of external airbags on vehicles, actually. Detects an impending high speed impact with an object of sufficient size and triggers the bags in sequence from the ground level upwards, to make sure they're scooped up off their feet instead of being slammed to the floor even harder. Ultimately coming to rest on the bonnet as the uppermost bag deflates.

      The bags being covered in a sticky and brightly coloured substance that means they need a little help to be removed from the front of the vehicle (so they don't then just get hurled up the road), and it also leaves a stain for a few weeks that screams "I'm an idiot who blunders out into traffic". Might even see if it's possible to texture the outside of the bag so it actually prints that.

      Alternatively you can take the actively hostile route and forgo the sticky stuff, and sequence the bags so that after the initial scooping starts, the others wait just that split second longer before all firing at once, catapulting the errant passenger of foot gracefully through the air at roughly 30mph faster than the vehicle itself was travelling. With points being scored for, e.g, embedding them spreadeagled halfway up the back of a lorry or double decker bus, rather like a cartoon character that's fallen off a cliff. Which might encourage people to start paying attention before leaving the (relative) safety of the pavement.

      (I'm having to dodge what feels like an ever-increasing number of oblivious roadway invaders these days)

  11. x 7

    So whats happening to the Turkish production line? Otokar build them under licence. And what about the Iranian Morattab production? The Iranians have assembled Landys for years, but then got the Spanish Santana full production line when that closed. Not sure how "legal" the Iranian factory is now, but at least it should still be technically possible to purchase Land Rovers from somewhere

    The ironic thing is that it was possible to buy Santana Land Rovers with more reliable engines more cheaply than you could the UK one.

  12. phil 27

    "Defenders on parade: entrance to the factory tour", not one of those cars is a defender, they're all series landrovers. This opening few paragraphs of the article reads like a train wreck until further in when it kicks in properly and someone who actually understands their subject seems to have got involved, until then its a confused mess suggesting that every land rover apart from the disco was called a defender since the first 4wd landrover product. And "We all know there’s only on one true Land Rover: the Defender", er, I can hear various series owners choking on their brews from here.


    For the record I drive a 90TD, which although its defender shaped, is most definitely not a defender also.

    1. BongoJoe

      I've had three series II, a 24v series I (immigree from the Libyan Desert) and a modern Freelander.

      I was thinking the same as Phil. None of those are Defenders. Four of my five were proper Landies; you could always identify them by the eternal drip on the passenger's left leg and the moss growing within the windows.

      I am still baffled by the fact that my current Landie has a stereo. Until this series I didn't realise that they could be made to be quiet enough to warrant one.

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Series II

        That's what it said on the compliance plate.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You wanted wheels?

    In 1970 I toyed with the idea of buying a Land Rover. The buying process was rather complicated as the salesman produced an enormous manual detailing all the optional extras. Those options included door locks and a rear view mirror.

    In 1973 I acquired a CKD Series 1 86" hardtop while working in South Africa - vintage 1956 with one owner from new. Very utilitarian with its flat sides - and a nail to insert in a hole as a door lock. The petrol cap was inside - under the driver's cushion.

    The Transvaal dry climate had minimised the corrosion - but the wings were showing signs of metal fatigue where vibration had hardened the aluminium along the bends. The recommended annealing process warned that it was very easy to melt the metal. The test for the correct temperature was to see if a sprinkling of sawdust sparkled.

    It came with truck tyres which gave it extra clearance - but made it very skittish. I added a couple of side back seats - but quite often the vibration from rutted gravel roads would undo the bolts with a resulting loud bang.

    It was the smaller engine - 1600cc? - but at an altitude of 6000 feet the fuel consumption even on roads was about 10mpg. I therefore had my second dream car as an economical town runabout - a Mini-Moke. A genuine Mini wheels one - not the Australian 1100 wheels model.

    Back in England in 1975 I bought my next dream car - a second-hand Series "A" Range Rover - just to have for a few months. Drove it for 13 years until the local specialist garage closed down. Never had a car since then - after those three cars with character everything else looked dull.

    The only other car that tempted me was a Triumph Stag but I resisted that on the grounds of their engine unreliability.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You wanted wheels?

      Just remembered there are Flickr pictures of the toys from my younger days - one without wheels. Sorry about the poor definition - the new hated Flickr format blows them up beyond their intended size. There is a format option at the top of the page which can't be pre-set in the link.

  14. Phuq Witt

    Nice Specs. Are They Rose-Tinted?

    "... It was voted Greatest Car of All Time by the viewers of Top Gear in 2003..."

    But presumably not by anyone who'd ever actually owned one.

    Looks-wise, you can't beat the classic 'Landies,' but the build quality and reliability are non-existent. I went through four of them back in the day —from a Series IIA to a couple of Defenders and they all needed constant fettling.

    It wasn't til I bought my first Jap 4x4 that I realised you could get off-roaders where the electrics didn't short out in the wet and where the doors stayed closed going round corners.

    1. DasWezel

      Re: Nice Specs. Are They Rose-Tinted?

      "I went through four of them back in the day —from a Series IIA to a couple of Defenders and they all needed constant fettling."

      My daily driver (60-mile commute) is a 1972 88" Series III. Just got back in from a 400-mile round trip to see family this weekend, with many of those cracking 70-odd on the motorway. Had to raid the toolbox only once, and that was to disassemble a table.

      I'll grant the BL-build quality was awful, because as a general rule they barely built them at all. But the reputation about reliability is - I'd say - mainly down to shonky maintenance (or naff parts, thanks Sh*tpart) and/or abuse. (So most farm-hacks or anything set up for "off-roading") As evidenced by the state of this one when I got it.

      Maintain them correctly, use quality parts and fluids, and they'll get to the ends of the earth. (Eventually!)

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Nice Specs. Are They Rose-Tinted?

        Many old Defenders on the roads now have build quality that is not down to BL or whoever owned LR when it was built, but the cars have been rebuilt entirely by enthusiasts with love and care and demonstrate that they are really well engineered vehicles.

        I have an old motorbike that was probably built in a day way back, and had a reputation for dripping oil and failure, but it has been entirely rebuilt by me (over 4 years) and I have total confidence that it is as reliable as the rotation of the earth.

  15. stucs201

    There will still be one option for people wanting a new one.

    Build one by hand entirely from spare parts - it wouldn't even be the first time it's been done.

    This also hints at why they've done so well. They aren't the most reliable option , however they're relatively easy to take apart and put back together. In places where any vehicle is going to break eventually and there is a lack of breakdown services and dealers repairability can be more important than reliability.

    It's unfortunate they're being retired because of requirements for driving round on nice smooth tarmac roads when that really isn't what they're intended for at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There will still be one option for people wanting a new one.

      Someone did that with a Morris "Moggie" just after they stopped production. Cost them about three times the price of a new one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There will still be one option for people wanting a new one.

        This is why Mini log books go for so much on ebay; you buy the ghost of a car and then rebuild it from the huge amount of readily available spares.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: There will still be one option for people wanting a new one.

        "Cost them about three times the price of a new one."

        He's lucky it only cost that much.

        Car makers are in the business of selling car parts (Unless you're Ford, who are in the business of selling financial services). It's not in their interest to sell them cheaply enough for you to build your own car.

        It's also not in their interest to make a car so reliable that it doesn't need parts (although the uniqueness of the japanese market makes it in their interest to make them last 5 years with no oil changes from new)

        One of my tutors worked for a heavy machinery manufacturer and resigned shortly after one of his gearbox designs was savaged on the basis that the steel alloys specified were so strong it would never need repairing. It eventually went on sale with vastly derated mild steel gears and developed a reputation for unreliability. He resigned.

  16. Chris G Silver badge

    Wouldn't have a rice burner

    I currently have a Disco 1, 23 years old just passed 300k klicks, dead reliable and all but indestructable here where no car looks good after a couple of years with locals using your car as parking guide ( when it touches you know you are there).

    When I lived in the UK, I had for 13 years a IIA 1964 rag top petrol 109", I admit it was never fast but pulling a two horse trailer with it most weekends meant not driving fast anyway. Even with 2 horses on board I never had a problem pulling the trailer through axle deep mud and the couple of rare breakdowns I did have I repaired with a leatherman tool and a screwdriver.

    On tickover the engine was almost silent and never lost a half shaft due to fitting Derbyshire Landrovers replacements when I bought it ( older Landys had a groove milled around the halfshaft just outboardof the spline presumably so that the shaft would go before the diff , the Derbyshire item did away with the groove negating that problem. The diffs are pretty hard to break anyway short of allowing all the oil out of them.) A heater from a mini installed inside the centre seat bulkhead in addition to the Landy item kept your legs warm in the winter. Only got rid of it because it was not baby friendly, I PXed it for a Dodge Ram six pack with a lovely gas guzzling 5.2 V8 which oddly enough did about the same 20MPG as the Landy with a trailer.

    The Dodge didn't have a hope in hell plowing through muddy fields though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wouldn't have a rice burner

      "The diffs are pretty hard to break anyway short of allowing all the oil out of them."

      My Series "A" Range Rover broke its diff after about 14 years. There was a loud clunk one day going round a street corner - and a pool of oil when it was parked. Turned out that a bolt locking tab on one of the diff gear wheels had failed - or had never been there. The bolt had gradually unscrewed until its head fouled the moving gear wheels. The bolt head was broken off by the impact and punctured the diff casing.

  17. wolfetone Silver badge

    When I worked as a lecturer for a college in Birmingham, part of the course I was delivering meant we had to go to the Land Rover plant in Solihull where the Defender is made. The process is all manual, people with big machinery welding panels together etc. It is, for all intents and purposes, the same as what you see in those old films of the car industry from the 1950's.

    Back then, and this was 2009, the guide said production would cease in 2 years time. Production would then be moved to India as emissions aren't an issue over there. I gather from this that the actual manufacturing of the vehicles could not be made more emission friendly.

    It is such a shame though as this is a Land Rover. It's not a mickey mouse Range Rover Evoque (based on the Ford Focus platform), it's not the poncey Range Rover that isn't well made any more. A friend of mine now works for Land Rover on the production line and he said he would never buy or own a Range Rover as he know's how they are built. That comment gives weight to comments I've heard from owners of Range Rovers who say the new ones aren't as good as the old ones in terms of build quality.

    I would also think that the cost of second hand Defenders will go up as the new replacement Defender looks absolutely awful. They have had years to come up with a suitable replacement, and they pick that?

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Well I reckon good condition Disco 2s will start to appreciate soon.

      Nothing too complicated and still pretty user servicable.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        I do like those Discovery's actually, I suppose they'd be a bit more refined than the Defenders.

        However, don't those Discovery's suffer from a rotting boot floor? A mechanic who used to come in the pub I used to work at said he was buying them up because a lot of people have them but never realise the floor is rotting away until it's too late. But I suppose if you know what to look for you can sort the issue out in time.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Boot floor fine as it is a D2

          But the chassis will go sometime, fine at the moment (one reason I bought it)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I appreciate that Land Rovers have their detractors, and that it may be hard to understand the affection with which they are held by enthusiasts, but there is something rather endearing about them. I grew up at first on a mining town in the Namib Desert, where Land Rovers were by far the most used cars.* After that, we moved to Malawi, where my father bough a Series IIa from the Museum of Malawi. Land Rovers became synonymous to me for dependability and trustworthiness, if not always fully reliable (broken cart spring many miles from the nearest road etc) and field-repairable, at least to limp home.

    These days, nowhere near Africa, we have Mungo, a Defender 90 bought from new, a 2000 model year Heritage, with leather interior, white-backed dials including revs, and various other cosmetic updates. He has 185000 miles on the clock now, the battery and exhaust are still original, and the first set of BFG All-terrains lasted 88 000 miles. I wanted this one because it had fewest electronic doodads, not even electric windows, though of course the TD 5 engine is electronically controlled. in 185000 miles, it has never broken down, though once started stuttering due to oil getting into the internal wiring loom on number 3 cylinder. We did have some difficulty on the island of Skye, once, when we had a flat tyre and the encapsulated wheel bolts had bubbled after internal corrosion, meaning we needed a garage to get the wheel nuts off with welding gear. Our intention was to have a vehicle we did not need to replace for decades, and we may still achieve that with him.

    We get 30mpg, year in, year out. This goes down to around 25mpg at speeds above 80mph. Once change we made was to replace the transfer box for one that had Discovery quiet gears, which also lowered the cruising RPM by 10% or so. This was done as soon as the warranty expired.

    We live in the far north west of Scotland, which gives us an excuse to have a Land Rover, and I must admit, with the number of deer on the road in these parts, I prefer it when my wife takes the Land Rover to go places, as she is likely to be safer in the Land Rover than more crumply alternatives. As we are near the sea, corrosion is inevitable, but I see no other 15 year old cars in the area, 10 years being about tops before they've rusted to bits. This year, Mungo passed his MOT without trouble, for the second year running.

    There is still something special about a Defender, and I still childishly purr with delight when a stranger comments about the big lad. It's very sad to see the end of this line, understandable though it may be.


    * - this was a diamond mining town, and the security guys were always after better desert transport. The best they found was a standard VW Beetle, with the "bonnet" at the back raised to allow extra air flow, fitted with standard tyres at the front, to track through the sand, and 24" tyres at the back, to float over the top. There was a notorious Namib dune that could not be scaled by any vehicle until this beetle trundled up it merrily one morning.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Mungo

      Just remember the following

      And keep it forever!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mungo

        :-) Yep, all bookmarked for the fateful day... Actually, I fancy dropping in an auto box as well. The on thing I miss from old Range Rover. And the comfy seats. And the self-levelling suspension. And the wonderful burble of the V8. And the body roll when blipping the throttle. And...

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Mungo

          Get up and go - it is a TD5 so remap it

          Auto raid a D2 for its box and ECUs

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Nifty Silver badge

    The only Land Rover in China?

    Over 10 years ago a friend of mine did a personal import of a Land Rover into China and I have an indelible memory of being driven out of Beijing and into the mountains in his Khaki green example, seating position above the traffic. His was a diesel example and he must have been the only private diesel vehicle in Beijing where normally you cannot own a diesel private cars at all.

    China was 20 years ahead of us in this pollution control aspect. How he got the import paperwork through is still a mystery. At the time I think this may have been the only Landrover in Beijing.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: Khaki green

      Khaki is brown, not green.

  21. MJI Silver badge

    Something about them, but not the latest.

    But would I buy a new one?

    No. And S/H nothing newer than 2006 either.

    I have driven a new one around Eastnor, fun but too many nice things missing. Like a nice engine, and I would have prefered an auto. The new dash felt a bit squashed in as well. That Transit lump is crude and rough, and too many gear changes, does it really need a six speed box?

    A few minutes later I climbed into my own car, much nicer, it changes gear itself, the engine is much nicer and it was 10 years older, more room, and still a lot of fun. Cost more when new and a lot less now.

    No worse off road and at least it won't smack the front prop shaft into the sump, and I don't get Transit jokes.

    For a crude toy I would really like a SIII 109 or a Forwards Control. As to 90/110 Defender there are two periods I would buy happily. 110 V8 or any from 2001 to 2006.

    So drive head to head, a brand new one and a ten year old enthusiast owned one, and I think a lot of us would choose the latter.

    My car has some of the benefits of a Defender (4WD, similar axles, centre diff lock), but some niceties like climate control, airchair like seats, auto (good off road) and an engine which also worked well in the Defender pre Transitification.

    Hmm an auto box from a written off Discovey 2 would fit a pre 2007 Defender!

  22. Magnus_Pym

    Soon to be lost?

    There is a statistic that is often quoted that 57% of Landrovers ever built are still running. I don't know if that is strictly true but I do know they tend to get rejuvenated every so often. I think it will be a long time before they are gone altogether.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Soon to be lost?

      And also a statistic that 50% of Land Rover owners have enough land to accomodate the turning circle!

      (I own one of the rare 170" wheelbase ones. I needed to rejuvenate the chassis, and took the scenic route.)

  23. Avatar of They

    Sad day but more to it than that me thinks.

    I am alive because of a defender, built like a tank and when it rolls you can get out afterwards. What will farmers have to buy now?

    Cheap crappy imports that are designed for the city and think more of "encap ratings" than "can it get to the high fields with a hay bail in winter."

    Silly beaurocrats.

  24. Valerion

    I once

    Spent 3 days offroading in the Malaysian jungle in a convoy of Defenders (old, beat-up, heavily customised ones). Best trip ever. Crossing ravines on bridges made of nothing other than 3 tree trunks, fording rivers, climbing up ridiculous inclines over boulders and camping out under the stars (in mozzie nets...). There was also a fair amount of drinking, but that didn't seem to affect the driving much. If they broke down (which they did), the one of the amazingly competent mechanics would fiddle with bits, whack some other bits, and they'd always come back to life. (On a previous trip they'd broken a driveshaft, so went back to an abandoned Land Rover they'd come across a couple of miles back, stripped the driveshaft from there and put it on their one!).

    Also we took a trip to the Cameron Highlands. That place is literally full of old (S1 and S2) Land Rovers. There is not a new car in sight. They just keep them patched up and they go on forever. They're used on the tea plantations.

    Luckily a good friend of mine runs the owner's club in Malaysia (and helps organise the Rainforest Challenge). Good place to go if you are a LR geek!

  25. Chris G Silver badge

    Darien Gap

    For any LandRover enthusiast or for that matter LandRover knocker have a look at this and then buy the book.

  26. montyburns56

    Special conversions

    I've always had a fascination with the special conversion Landy's ever since I got my hands on LR catalogue in the 80's that featured some of them. I especially like the fire engine conversions and was looking at a webpage of pictures of them a few weeks ago which included a 6 wheel version!

  27. Salts

    It is Iconic but...

    I always thought the 90 & 110 indicated the decibels level in the cab, complete revelation to me it indicates the wheelbase :-)

  28. Stoke the atom furnaces

    The life of the Austin FX4 London taxi cab was extended by fitting it with a more modern Nissan diesel engine.

    Why not something similar for the Landrover?

  29. excollier

    Interfering Euro shits.....time to get out.

  30. John Sturdy

    Do the honourable thing at the end of production, please, JLR

    Please, for such a heritage item... when you stop the production, please open-source the design!

    Then those who wish to produce [upwards-]compatible vehicles can start from a common base, and be compatible with each other.

  31. elbouv

    Archaic, uncomfortable, unreliable and dangerous

    One Life - Lose It

    We had planned this trip for a long time. An epic journey via the Augrabies waterfall to Alexander Bay, the westernmost point of South Africa, and from there to the Richtersveld, an inhospitable are of unsurpassed natural beauty and home to the quiver tree and halfmens trees, (Pachypodium namaquanum). From there we would meander through the Namaqualand region where early rains have again turned the semi desert into a large flower carpet.

    The next stop would be at the gannets of Lamberts bay and we would go on to photograph the oystercatchers at Paternoster.

    There was a mandatory family stop in Somerset West and then back home via Robertson, a surprise visit to a favorite artist, more family on Bloemfontein and back to our home in Pretoria.

    The trip was planned with two scenarios in mind, depending on my wife’s workload. Either I would be taking my two sons in the Cruiser for the Augrabies, Richtersveld, Namqualand part of the journey, and meet up with my wife who would fly to Cape Town, or we would again, like the previous year, use both the Cruiser and her Landy.

    In order to cover both eventualities the Landy was comprehensively serviced by the agents and I attended to items like new windscreen wiper blades and, as we had to leave in darkness on the first leg of the trip, I took care to fit new headlight bulbs and properly aligned the lights. I had also purchased a plane ticket for my wife to fly to Cape Town if she was unable to do the whole trip.

    Two days before setting off on the journey I became apparent that my wife’s work allowed her to do the whole trip, and she was overjoyed to do yet another journey in her favorite vehicle, her 2007 90 Defender with the 2.4 Ford Puma diesel engine. This was the best Landy 90 she had had, having previously had a TD5 version for more than five years. Besides having done may trips in her 90’s she had also done the Land Rover advanced driving course and was a careful and competent driver with no accidents to her 34 years of driving.

    Our style of traveling, where photo opportunities dictate the pace, means that we very rarely plan to do more than 500 km per day, and on this trip there were two legs that exceeded this limit, being the routes of the first day and of the second last day.

    Late on 1 August 2013 my two sons flew in from Germany and after an early evening landing, we were all off to bed early as we had little time for sleep before we embarked on the longest journey of the trip, the 900 km to Augrabies waterfall.

    After hitting the road at 03h00 the first day went very well and we made an afternoon stop in Keimoes at the famous Pienk Padstal where the Barnard family, old friends of my wife, with whom she participated in overland safaris in Botswana, during the 1990’s, were visited.

    We reached the Augrabies waterfall at last light and did a quick photo reconnaissance to determine possible shots and positions for the next morning.

    We sent Saturday exploring and photographing the Augrabies National Park and on Sunday 4 August we followed the same routine, with an early start to catch some daybreak photos at the falls.

    We returned to a cursory breakfast of coffee and rusks, meaning to have a proper breakfast at Pofadder, and loaded the vehicles for the 500 km journey to Alexander Bay.

    My wife and my oldest son boarded the Landy and my younger son and I got into the Cruiser and we set out on the trip to Alexander Bay.

    Shortly after joining the main road we spotted an old Fiat mounted on stilts next to the road and, as we had the whole day, we spent some time fooling around and took some photographs.

    The next event was a dead bat eared fox in the road. My wife really favored these small foxes and as she has on occasion used road kill photos in her work, we once again stopped and spent some time photographing the scene.

    There was no traffic on the N14 on this lovely early spring Sunday morning and it was possible to get down right next to the dead fox, without having to be concerned about vehicles.

    We were taking matters very leisurely, as we had no time pressure, and would stop a Pofadder, the next town, for breakfast.

    Some distance down the road there was a slight right hand bend with a hillock to the right that was covered in quiver trees. Using the inter vehicle radios I pointed this out to my wife and she replied with appreciation.

    The road now stretched out in front of me like a diminishing line, an absolutely straight strip of good quality tarmac, devoid of other traffic, reaching to the horizon.

    As we had no time pressure we traveled at a fuel optimizing speed, below the speed limit, and in general life was good, and our journey was off to a fantastic start.

    With the dearth of traffic I kept one eye in the rearview mirror observing the Landy behind me.

    Suddenly I saw the Landy veering towards the left hand shoulder of the road. This course was corrected and the Landy went into a semi skid towards the right.

    At this point I shouted to my younger son, in the Cruiser with me, that my wife was going to capsize the Landy and I braked hard as I watched the havoc unfolding in my rear view mirror.

    The next move of the Landy was a violent left hand swerve and I saw blue smoke coming from the right hand side tyres.

    The right hand side tyres then bit into the tar, as happens when a motorcycle highsides, and the vehicle overturned and started rolling.

    This particular model of Defender 90 had no roll over protection whatsoever. There is no roll over hoop, airbags, or any structural members, that are able to take any significant impact. The main structural member seems to have been the glass in the front windscreen

    The first time that the left hand roof, at the A pillar, corner hit the road, the front windscreen shattered and the roof pillars and assembly collapsed, and my son, being strapped in and held upright in the seat by his safety belts, was instantly killed as he suffered a base of skull fracture.

    My wife, who was also strapped in, was flung from underneath her safety belt, to the centre of the vehicle as well as forwards towards the windscreen, where her head impacted the roof lining as was evident by the blood smears.

    With her body having slipped from underneath the safety belts she was being flung around the interior of the vehicle and on the second roll of the vehicle the momentum of her body broke the roof off the Landy and she was ejected from the vehicle. As I was watching the unfolding tragedy I saw the Landy bonnet flew off towards the left hand side of the road and then the white roof of the Landy flew off to the right hand side of the road and my wife being ejected straight form the wreck and landing parallel to the side of the road.

    With the roof now missing, the vehicle shape became more round as the side panels collapsed, causing the violent rolling to be continued.

    My wife came to rest parallel to the yellow line on the right hand side of the road with her head towards Kakamas.

    The Landy stopped on the left hand side of the road, right side up, at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the road edge, partially blocking the left hand lane.

    The positions of my wife and the Landy were opposite each other, severely restricting vehicle traffic.

    When my younger son and I got to my wife she was still alive, unconscious, but breathing on her own.

    My oldest son was still strapped into his seat and a quick check for pulse, breathing and pupil response, indicate that my son had died.

    We managed to bring my wife round and she was very badly injured and in deep shock. I held my wife in my arms as she passed away, half an hour before an ambulance arrived.

    Why did this accident happen?

    The main cause of the accident was loss of control over the vehicle.

    Careful observations of the accident markings on the road surface, as well as the state of the wreck, did not indicate any mechanical failure, no evidence of tyre, suspension or steering failure.

    The root cause of the accident stems in my opinion from the 1948 design of the vehicle, which has not sufficiently evolved. Even the fitting of electronic aids, like ABS, has not been able to address the inherent flaws of the vehicle.

    The wheelbase of the Defender 90 is 35% longer than the vehicle width.

    Compounding this with the fact that there has been the adoption of modern engines, which are shorter than the pervious engines, which has resulted in the centre of mass moving towards the rear. With both the engine and passengers being located between the axles, in close prosimity, means that the Landy 90 has no real polar moment of inertia. If it gets into a spin there is no heavy lump of engine, located close to an end of the vehicle, to determine where the vehicle will go.

    Add to this tyres that are significantly wider than the original equipment, of years ago, and you have a vehicle that is inherently unstable, does not naturally have the ability to recover from a spin, and can no longer slide sideways due to the higher grip of the wider tyres.

    Throw in zero roll over protection and a superstructure fabricated in brittle aluminium that shattered like glass, and you have an almost perfect killing machine.

    Land Rover is perfectly aware of this situation and have since 1997 been barred from importing this vehicle to the USA, but they do have published the following safety information:

    Options & Upgrades for this model of Defender 90 Hard Top

    ▪ SPEED LIMITER - 56 MPH / 90 KPH

    ▪ SPEED LIMITER - 70 MPH / 113 KPH

    ▪ SPEED LIMITER – 75 MPH /120 KPH

    If you have one of these vehicles it could be in your best interest to carefully read this narrative, and think about these matters, lest you too have a holiday that ends in funerals.

  32. markp 1

    I wonder what the sensible minimum power and torque requirements are to push a Landie along at emissions-test speeds? Or at a pace suitable for modern traffic, and to grind it over a mountain with the transfer in 4L?

    Pretty certain it came for a fairly long time with at least some options under 100hp, maybe even under 80, which means EG they could have made a deal with Nissan and popped in the 1.2L, 3cyl lumpette from the Micra (like wot I dart around in), in either sucky-sucky or supercharged form... one making roughly 80 and the other roughly 100 bhp (it's only a low pressure, part time charger, mostly aimed at improving the lower-midrange torque so you don't need to rev it as hard...) - and amongst the most efficient and cleanest engines for their power output.

    Not something I bought the car for, only found out after the fact even (it was a rushed 2nd hand insurance-money purchase), but it was neat to find out.

    Or if more oomph was needed there's a 4-cyl and maybe even 5/6-cyl versions, which scale pretty much linearly (...though the larger, and more recent smaller versions use a turbo instead, the concept and effect is much the same). Do you really want to chuck a Defender along with more than 200bhp for anything other than showing-off reasons?

    The largest of which, in blown form, I'd be astonished to find chucking out more than 200g/km (as the small one rates 99...) under test, even with the tested model weighing twice that of my piddly hatchback. The acceleration tends to be gentle and the cruising speeds both moderate and sustained.

    It would have had a particularly marked effect if they kept the same general gearing for road use and just adapted the low range reduction to suit, because I'm pretty sure the car's somewhat weird ratio selection is specifically aimed at good test results, as the EU even specifies what gear they expect the tester to prefer for each section...

    It wouldn't have caused any issue in mounting, there'd have been tons of space left under the bonnet afterwards, even with a straight or vee six...

    Probably would have had a hard time selling the traditional landie buyers on the idea, however. Large capacity and lots of grunt seems to be the order of play, even though gearing down and letting the low-friction, low-reciprocating mass, optimised-airflow petrol burning hairdryer rev in its happiest range would still do the business just fine and be about as economic if not moreso. It'd just sound a bit off (...though considering its capacity and cylinder count it does actually make an encouraging howl when thrashed)

    And really you're not going to impress anyone with your tints, dropped suspension, bodykit, black laquered alloys... and a "1.6 DiG-T" badge on the back... :D it's all about the 4.2 V8 or DT5 instead.

    Ditto - at the time - converting it for electric drive, even though it would have been absolutely perfect for it, especially with a carefully lightened frame, and maybe copious solar panels on all those lovely flat surfaces... Nowadays it might have got a bit more kudos. And the tech is incrementally better.

    It's mostly image that sold the last of those old soldiers after all. Except for a few hardcore types, I can't see it having really been for utility, let alone performance. And that means they would have had serious trouble adapting the frame, bodywork, etc both for improved aerodynamics and crash safety. Probably cost an absolute fortune to build, too.

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