End Of The (Dirt) Road For The Defender


For many years I’ve had a keen affinity for old school Land Rovers. More specifically the 1960s Series II, and the Ninety and One Ten (aka Defenders.) Their history, design and reputation have led me to consider them the ideal vehicle for just about any outdoor pursuit. Particularly, ones involving dogs and shotguns. More than once I’ve pondered, “Could I fit two dog crates in the back of a 1968 Land Rover Series IIa Station Wagon?”, or “I wonder what kind of gas mileage a Defender would get on a trip to South Dakota?” Not that these things mattered.

With that said, it was interesting to learn last fall that Land Rover’s new parent, Tata Motors, is planning a 2012 launch of a revised version of the legendary Defender, which has apparently reached the end of its 62 year run. Stricter safety and emission regulations across the globe helped contributed to its demise.


Initially to be built in the UK, the Defender replacement dubbed Project Icon, will share the same chassis as the LR4 and Range Rover Sport. However, it is unlikely that Project Icon will take the Defender name for production.

It’s disappointing that the Defender is going away, as it has earned a historic reputation for being an austere, heavy-duty and dependable off-road vehicle. Even though Land Rover claims the Project Icon will carry over the Defender’s “looks and values”, it will never be the same.

Here’s a classic Land Rover commercial which I can actually remember seeing on television… it befittingly sums up the Rover mentality.

"But I have a Range Rover"