Monday Money: Land Rover Defender 1990-2016

Photo by Tom Kahler

Growing up in the early 00’s in the rural backdrop of Worcestershire, I never thought I’d say that the Land Rover Defender was a cool car. It was a staple of rural life and therefore a common car. This was especially true if you spent a fair amount of time on a farm. Every Tom, Dick and Harry had a Land Rover Defender so what makes it so cool all of a sudden?

Photo by Tom Kahler

Throughout the 26-year production, the Defender was never perceived as much more than a utility vehicle. It had the barebones equipment of whatever it was tasked to do, no frills – no fuss. It found use in the military, as a farm vehicle, a fire engine, ambulance or an electrician’s van. It is safe to say that this car has an impressive resume.

The Defender was never particularly fast, even in its V8 variant, but it had the torque to haul anything that was thrown at it. It was the ultimate working man’s car. It’s not often that such a ubiquitous car becomes a collector’s item, but this is the exception for a multitude of reasons. When Land Rover announced that they were ceasing production of the Defender in 2016, a lot of us had suddenly realised how much we had taken it for granted.

Land Rover Series I

The Classic defender shape and facia, although tweaked over the years, has a strong resemblance to its predecessors going back as far as the Land Rover Series I of 1948. Although it would be pretty cool to get your hands a Series I, II or III, it would prove pretty difficult to drive in day to day use. You would want the later Defender models for the electronic fuel injection, modern luxuries (air conditioning, remote central locking etc.) and better reliability so that you can use the car regularly. Keeping it locked away would be a shame and a disservice to a vehicle with utility in its DNA.

Being a staple workhorse is what makes the Defender so special and desirable. As a continuation of its heritage and its iconic design, it was and still is recognised globally as the face of ‘getting stuff done’. Not many cars can say the same. As production of the Defender (as we know it) has ceased, we can only expect the value of them to skyrocket in the years to come.

By Jamil Jafri

Editor at The Mechanists