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Defender: Landy’s 4x4 foundation

2014-04-03 11:27

END OF THE ROAD: Due to government and safety regulations, the venerable Defender line will be chopped. Land Rover announced it will cease production of its iconic 4x4 in 2015. Image: LAND ROVER:


I was the proud owner of two Land Rovers - a 1968 and a 1969 model. Both were more than 20 years old when I acquired them but, despite break-downs, I came to love them dearly for their ruggedness and ease of repair.

I am now the happy owner of a V8 Discovery 2. All of the vehicles were used for off-road purposes and not everyday commuting.


The Defender range was not only an emotional anchor for Land Rover but also formed the foundation for the automaker. If you take it away you will destroy the foundation and the whole brand may collapse into the image of a Korean SUV shopping-centre vehicle.

The reality is that most people cannot afford an everyday vehicle as well as a 4x4, besides the fact that most owners of 4x4 vehicles want to show off rather than use it for what it was intended.

While a true 4x4 such as the Defender  cannot sell in large numbers, such a vehicle is imperative to maintain the image of the brand. The same applies to Toyota (Landcruiser bakkies) and Nissan. The image of soft-roaders is tarnished when the brand loses a proper 4x4 foundation vehicle.  


What is needed to replace the Defender is a rugged and simple vehicle, with a conventional suspension that cannot break on an African trip and can be fixed by anyone if it does. The same should apply to the rest of the vehicle.

Leave the electronic gadgets for the SUV guys who cannot drive and stick to solid axles, good ground clearance, articulation, differential-locks and a reliable engine. Also it should be something that can be fixed anywhere.

The point is that all components have to be as reliable and sturdy as possible. Inside, it needs good ergonomics,but forget about fancy equipment that break and damage reputation.

A true 4x4 driver does not need to listen to classic music while in the veld but he wants to get home without his knee or calf bruised by a handbrake!


He wants to listen to the engine, the suspension doing its work, the response from the road surface and he wants to combine all the sounds into his decision making regarding correct gears, engine revolutions etc.

He becomes part of his machine (a yuppy is owned by his gadgets).

Keep it clean, simple and cheap. A basic 4x4 need not cost R400 000. The last thing Land Rover should attempt, is to compete with other brands or market trends.

The history of the Defender, as a rugged, utilitarian workhorse for all purposes proves that independent thinking and purposeful design, in spite of shortcomings for everyday use, builds an icon, not electronic gadgets.

What I advocate is that a proper rugged and reliable 4x4 is an absolute necessity for the brand, in spite thereof that there will not be volume sales but such anchor, foundation or icon, will substantially increase the sale of the SUV vehicles connected to the brand.

Lose the 4x4 and you lose the brand. The image of the Defender icon is almost impossible to replace, but it can be done and it is imperative to uphold the volume sales of the rest of the brand.        

Read more readers' views on the Defender:
Reader: Why not keep the Defender?
Land Rover Defender: A 4x4 legend
Land Rover Defender: Keep it or can it?

Read more on:    land rover  |  south africa  |  defender  |  new models  |  4x4  |  off-road

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