Last line of defence

Sadly but inevitably Land Rover has finally called time on the Defender, which will be put out to pasture at the end of 2015, the company either unable or unwilling to get it through forthcoming crash and emissions legislation. And while today’s Defender no longer shares a single component with that of an original 1948 Land Rover, the journey from first to last has been continuous and unlike, say, the Porsche 911, not punctuated by all-new models with nothing more than a name in common with its predecessor.

It’s ironic that the car with the longest unbroken production history in the world was conceived as a stop-gap, only intended to survive a few years while Land Rover designed a more thorough response to the Willys Jeep. That’s the reason its shape is all right angles: they didn’t want the expense of tooling up to make sophisticated curves for a car with such a short intended lifespan. Nor was its body made from aluminium for reasons of either longevity or weight saving: more prosaically, after the scrappage of millions of tonnes of war weaponry, it was the cheapest, most easily available metal on the market. It is also the reason so many of them survive on our roads to this day.

Andrew Frankel