70 years is a long time. As Land Rover reaches this lofty birthday, it’s worthwhile to look back on their legacy of one of the most capable and unique trucks they have produced: the Land Rover Defender. In many ways, that legacy creates a lot of what we love about Defenders. Most car companies don’t produce vehicles that can last this test of time. At East Coast Defender, we take great pride in fostering this heritage while we add cutting-edge capabilities to the Defender.
The story of Land Rover began in the shadows of World War II. In 1947, a man named Maurice Wilks had a vision for what he believed could be the ultimate all-terrain truck, and he cobbled together this vehicle using mainly post-war material left unused by the British government. The material included aluminum out of necessity at the time when it was rarely used in car construction. This was a tough time for England; after the ravishes of a World War, it needed a truck that could do it all and do it efficiently. Using an ingenious aluminum-based design, Land Rover creators accomplished that goal.
The truck, the Series 1, that was supposed to be simply a band-aid for a wounded British countryside is still with us some 70 years later. The Series 1 was the original inspiration for the Defender. Its early life was almost entirely practical: used in farm work, heavily relied upon by the military, and a family wagon that could be counted on. These are jobs it did admirably and with precision.
In the 1950s, the Series 1 became more luxurious. In quick order, Winston Churchill was presented a custom version for his 80th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II became a fan (and still is), and the sturdy truck from the bucolic hills of England was suddenly seen on the big screen in movies like 1953’s Mogambo, starring Clark Gable. A Land Rover is now a staple of luxury, driven by James Bond and owned by the James Bond, Sean Connery.
The birth of the Land Rover Defender series took place gradually, with the many versions of the Land Rover truck slowly evolving into the iconic luxury sport utility vehicle of the fleet. In 1983, the Land Rover 90 and 110 were produced. The Defender namesake was bestowed upon the vehicle in 1990. The Defender combined the best of what a Land Rover could be into an amazing package: tough but well-appointed simultaneously.
Above all, the Defender has and always will be distinct. The final Defender produced rolled out of the assembly bay in Solihull, England, on January 29th, 2016, marking the end of an incredible run from a legendary truck. But although Land Rover Defenders are no longer made new daily, the icon lives on with fans and drivers alike. Over the coming years, the evolution of what a Defender is, and can be, will continue. It’s a future for a truck that will never forget its past. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see the ways we are taking this vehicle into the future.