When it comes to the history of 4 × 4 vehicles, the Land Rover Defender has a chapter full of successes that spanned 68 years and culminated last January with the production of the last unit.
In 1948 the Series I went into full production at Solihull. It was the post-war era in the UK and steel was in short supply, although the country had an immense production capacity.
The inspiration came from Spencer and Maurice Wilks, two brothers who helped make the Rover Company profitable again in the 30s. These pioneers envisioned the Land Rover as a primarily agricultural vehicle.
After several changes, in 1958 the Series II brought a new design and updates as an advanced diesel engine that was used until the mid-80s.
By 1966 sales had already reached half a million, while annual production peaked in 1971 with 56.000 units. In the 70s, the Series III continued to sell as well as its predecessor.
Starting in 1990, the vehicle took the name Defender. By then, Land Rover's portfolio included the Range Rover and Discovery, which had just hit the market. A new name was the most appropriate as previously only referenced to its wheelbase and serial number.
Part of the appeal of Land Rover was that it was possible to create infinite versions of the base platform, including models as different as the Forward Control fire truck, cranes or an amphibious vehicle capable of floating on water.
During its 68-year history, it has been driven by all kinds of people, from farmers and explorers, to royalty.