Another kind of experience altogether: Our Cars, Land Rover Defender, CAR+ February 2016

Published: 20 January 2016

► We welcome the Land Rover Defender to our fleet
► The last Defenders are rolling off the production line
► It’s a traditional mans car, as we quickly find out 

By the time you read this, the Land Rover Defender may well be out of production – the exact date a moving feast due to orders and supply of parts, but pencilled in for late January. Over its life, many other remarkable machines have been invented, built, run, and retired: Concorde, the space shuttle, ZX Spectrum, Metal Mickey. But until now the Defender and its various iterations have continued, many of them in very similar form to the original.

And that’s what makes this car remarkable. Obviously it has been significantly updated, to the point that cynics might say it’s something of a Trigger’s Broom, but I’d contend that conceptually and spiritually the last models off the line, the limited edition models of which our Adventure 110 is one, are true to the simple, focused, rugged concept drawn in Welsh sand in 1947.

So what’s the point of running one for a few months? Surely everything that has ever needed to be said about the Landie has been said? Probably, but what this test is about is trying to explain why this is, in my book anyway, the most significant car ever built by a British firm (angry Mini, E-type, Allegro fans feel free to direct letters to the editor, not me, on this point).

Originally I’d wanted to run the Heritage, attracted as many have been by its 1950 austerity paintjob and steel wheels, but as they’re almost all sold out, we ended up with the Adventure, complete with Goodyear off-road tyres and black alloys, snorkel and underbody protection. In dark Corris grey and black, rather than UN-spec white or Fen-murderer orange, it looks suitably cool and purposeful.

Inside, the Defender has leather seats and a suede roof, and as this will be our family car for the winter months, the luxuries such as heated seats, a radio and um, er, carpets and windows, will come in very useful.

It’s not cheap mind, but then Defenders aren’t these days, whether a hand-built new one or a used example, and ours, which has no options, is £43,495, a figure which makes the people who walk up in the street to talk to me about it, gape in astonishment. And a lot of people do come up to talk to you about it, usually manly men wanting to talk manly stuff about men adventures, until their wives order them off to the shops.

For this is why the Defender still resonates: it reminds us of a time when razors had one blade, men were providers and could do any repairs around the house, and we weren’t this sex of neuroses and self-doubt, emasculated and impractical, unable to put up a shelf or get the car going when it breaks down.

So now all we have left are two symbols of masculinity: our beards, and the Defender. I’m looking forward to a season of hirsute, slow, noisy motoring.

Logbook: Land Rover Defender 100 Station Wagon manual

Engine: 2198cc 16v 4-cyl turbodiesel, 118bhp @ 3500rpm, 262lb ft @ 2000rpm  
Gearbox: 6-speed manual, four-wheel drive  
Stats: N/A 0-62mph, 90mph, 295g/km CO2  
Price: £43,495  
As tested: £43,495  
Miles this month: 124 
Total miles: 124  
Our mpg: TBC  
Official mpg: 25.5  
Fuel this month: TBC  
Extra costs: £0

You could yearn for more than this, but it’s tough to make a case for actually needing it

Our spec

LED headlights

Who says it’s still 1947? Badger-blinding illumination from amazing lights

Expedition Roof Rack and Ladder

For tents, generator, drinking water and assorted survival gear – and we’re only visiting the in-laws

Seven seats

Emasculated by your Citroën Picasso? Try people carrying, the Landie way

Diamond turned black split spoke alloys 

These will look great parked outside Chanel on New Bond Street

By Steve Moody

Contributing editor, adventurer, ideas pitcher, failed grower-upper

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