A British icon of the road and field says goodbye. The Land Rover Defender, a workhorse of our countryside, has been withdrawn from production in its present design. I grew up with this old bone-shaker, and spent many a happy hour allowed to drive around muddy fields after a day’s potato picking with a local farmer. Always dirty and damp, the defender always provided a haven from the wet weather and cold wind when lunchtime arrived; dogs were always asleep in the back along with years of mud and bailer twine, which seemed to stick into every corner of the cab.
For many years I have glanced in at this brute of a vehicle with envy, but never wanted to stick hand in my pocket to buy one. I have become accustomed to luxury, and like many have always remembered the noisy diesel engine, hard drive and the most basic of interiors, which seemed to be drafty on even the warmest of days.
To my surprise, my wife said we must buy one before they go out of production. I ended up with a Defender which has moved on from the old green rusty version I drove some 43 years ago. Metallic ruby red with black detailing, this beauty turns some heads with men of my era; a bit of a Tonka, with huge wheels and flared arches. The interior is just as impressive – air-con (not rusty holes) Bluetooth, heated seats; the list goes on.
The ride has not changed, nor has the noise of that diesel engine, and off-road it still crawls through the deepest of mud with ease. My youth has returned, albeit at more expense than a season’s potato picking in wet Westmorland.
Loved by many, including our Royal Family, we will keep the Defender moving within our countryside – although it will not be a regular sight as it once was.