Pre­tender

NZ Autocar - - Road Watch -

when ven­tur­ing far from the sooth­ing bo­som of civil­i­sa­tion. There’s noth­ing the De­fender lacks in its quest to be a ter­rain-con­queror par ex­cel­lence; equally there’s noth­ing added to it that would in­crease its abil­ity to per­form other du­ties. And that sim­plic­ity is ex­actly the rea­son that Land Rover can no longer make it. The light­weight-alu­mini­um­body-parts-at­tached-to-a-highly-rigid­lad­der-chas­sis con­struc­tion of the De­fender ham­mers the last nail into the cof­fin of the model, as it pre­cludes any op­por­tu­nity of rais­ing the woe­ful crash test score. As the late sci-fi writer and whiskey-taster, Iain Banks, once said of his own De­fender: it does have crum­ple zones, they just hap­pen to be other cars.

Upon reach­ing re­mote Mount Dare sta­tion on the north-western fringe of the Simp­son, the sta­tion man­ager im­me­di­ately grav­i­tated to the De­fender. A man con­stantly called upon to res­cue stranded ve­hi­cles in the desert, he ad­mit­ted that he’d never had to re­trieve a De­fender, “plenty of Toy­otas, but never one of those.”

Per­haps that’s be­cause only two mil­lion were made dur­ing the 68 years the model was in pro­duc­tion. Where other ve­hi­cles evolved and de­vel­oped then be­came ex­tinct, the De­fender was a con­stant snap­shot to 1948, and the pos­i­tiv­ity of a post-WW2 world. Its sim­plic­ity gave us an im­me­di­ate ref­er­ence point to a sim­pler time, and it was also quite pos­si­bly the first car that I ever drew. There will be plenty mourn­ing the pass­ing of this iconic au­to­mo­tive anachro­nism in Oua­gadougou, Da­landzadgad, and ev­ery ad­ver­tis­ing agency in the world.

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