I was dismayed, nay, horrified, to read that production of a classic icon of the old British Empire’s colonial past – the Land Rover – will cease in December 2015.
The current LR ‘Defender’ – in reality, it should really be called the ‘Series V’ – dates back to 1948 and is the spiritual cousin of the original Willys ‘Jeep’ and the Toyota Landcruiser. It was born of the necessity for export, in an austere post-War Britain, and built of readily available aluminium, using a drive-train that Rover already had for their regular automobiles.
It is said that 75% of the 2 million plus Land Rovers built thus far are still in existence – a tribute to their innate toughness and longevity.
I owned a fine example of the 1981 Series III, 88″ (short wheelbase) with diesel engine. It was a massively impractical vehicle for everyday use, being slow, uncomfortable, noisy and draughty. But it was mine. It was a pretty looking truck (having been repainted and with new side windows fitted) and I loved it. I fitted a Volvo Marine, propane-powered, forced-air heater under the driver’s seat, a very powerful stereo system, bucket seats and centre console.
I bought it in April 1996 for £2,900 and sold it in June 1998 for £3,200 – one of the few vehicles to appreciate in value with time. Alas, and alack, it was sold under pressure of a woman, who was to leave my life a few months later, as not being ‘suitable’ – whatever that meant – and even though I never used it for its original purpose of weekend off-roading, I was sad to see it go…and have, perhaps, subconsciously pined for it since by buying large, American trucks.