Land Rover

A Brief History of the Defender

Where do we start? We think it’s safe to say the Defender has quite a past, with the original series 1 kicking off Land Rovers automotive business in 1948, when it was launched at the Amsterdam Motor show. Powered by a four-cylinder 1.6-litre engine, which produced only 50bhp, whilst being priced at £450 (if only they still were!) The Series 1 boosted Land Rovers automotive business after 8,000 models were produced within a year, with a large amount being used by the British Army.

A face lift later and with the incorporation of 7-inch exposed headlamps, selectable 2- or 4-wheel drive system, an enlarged engine to produce an extra 2bhp, a configuration update on the wheelbase, the long wheelbase being extended to 107 inches and the short wheelbase being increased to 86 inches. If you thought that wasn’t enough, in 1957 they only went and extended their wheelbases again! This time, they supplied the option of the wheelbases becoming a whole 2 inches higher and you were able to choose a 52bhp, 2052cc diesel engine. 1957 certainly was the year of configuration for the Land Rover Series 1!

Once they had updated the Series 1 from an inch of its life, they then launched the Series 2 Defender. With its recognisable deep side sills and rounded-shoulder side panels, the Series 2 was also given a ‘two-and-a-quarter’ litre engine.

Taking the automotive business by storm, in the 1960s, the 500,000th Land Rover vehicle was produced following the launch of the Series 2A with its larger 62bhp, 228cc diesel engine. A year later, the Series 2A Forward Control model is launched welcoming four-cylinder diesel and a six-cylinder Petrol powered engine.

We are getting there…It’s now the 1970s and Land Rover have launched their Series 3 featuring flatter door hinges, plastic grilles and a full- width dashboard offering fresh-air heaters. By 1979, a 3528cc V8 engine option was introduced and a central differential lock. We now have permanent four-wheel drive!

Remember those wheel bases, in 1983 Land Rover replaced the Series 3 with the One-Ten, going from 109 inches to a staggering 110! Leaf springs are now replaced by coils and the four-cylinder engines come in a five-speed gearbox. But let’s not forget in 1948 the 2286cc diesel engine was replaced by a 2495cc diesel engine and then in 1985 they also adapt the petrol engines from 2286cc to 2495cc. After working hard on the engine, they go one step further and finally increase the bhp to 85 with a 2495cc turbo-diesel engine.

Finally…. The Defender hit the Land Rover collection in 1990s, with it came more brake horse power, a 107bhp 2495cc turbo diesel 200Tdi, this was then taken over by the 111bhp 300 Tdi. By 1998 Land Rover had set a standard engine for the Defender, the 122bhp five-cylinder Td5.

The 2000s is the year of the major Defender evolution, where by they added a six-speed gearbox, a modern dashboard and safer forward-facing seats in the back.

In 2012 a new, smaller 2.2litre diesel was developed to substitute the 2.4litre with the power levels abiding with Euro V-compliant emissions.

2013, that’s 65 years of Land Rover! To celebrate they launched the LXV Special Edition model, you may remember it as Santorini black with a Corris grey roof with headlamp surrounds, grille and who could forget the orange piping inside on the leather seats with “LXV” Roman numerals for 65 decorated on the front headrests. 

The Year of the defender… 2015 brings a vast number of events including the 1km drawing of the Defender on sand at Red Wharf bay in Anglesey, swiftly followed by the launch of three new limited-edition Defenders and the recreation of the series 1 we know and love and if you didn’t, you do now.

Bringing you back to the here and now we have the all New Defender launch upon us… The new Defender has a tough job ahead as the ‘icon’ of the Land Rover Brand. The New Defender will have the largest list of factory options and accessories ever seen on a JLR product!

What do we know about the New Defender?

So… Now you know the History of this incredible car, let’s get onto the gossip on the specifications itself.

Let’s look at the beauty the defender radiates, it has been hinted that the New Defender will share the Land Rover looks with the familiar vents behind the front wheel-arches. The test car which was spotted had four-doors and ruler straight bonnet all covered by heavy cladding. Now let’s talk lights, the headlights appear to be a clear circular headlamp with indicator bulbs, unlike the classic Defender which are handled by the main unit. Ah, and of course those wheelbases, with the short wheelbase Defender ‘90’ and a long wheelbase Defender ‘110’ in the testing phase, both look tremendously like the current Discovery.

The Designer Mr. Gerry McGovern, has hinted at a performance SVR version of the New Defender could be hitting our roads? This would rival the Mercedes-AMG G63 when it dips into the highly demanded powerful, rugged off-roaders in luxurious style especially in Russia and China.

Let’s talk price! Eventhough the price of the New Defender is yet to be confirmed the Defender 90 could start from £40,000. What do we think about that? I say its worth every penny based on what this New Defender is being set-up to achieve, I mean who wouldn’t want to go bombing around the countryside in this extraordinary vehicle.

What do we think?

“Having seen the prototypes in Portugal in 2018 I know this will be a massive success for Land Rover and Harwoods, as with the last Defender the vehicle will be equally at home at a shoot in a field or a Sloane square shopping trip, with its variants coping for all lifestyles were practically possible, be it commercial or a premium family vehicle.

For me the best thing about the New Defender is it shares the DEFENDER DNA visually whilst taking the model forwards in massive steps from comfort, quality and luxury.

We have 28 deposits on the vehicle so far.”

Alastair Hanna our Head of business at Harwoods Land Rover Pulborough

Find out more information on the launch of the new Defender here or contact Harwoods Land Rover for further information.

Go Back To News

Share this Article:

Our Recent Posts

Aston Martin Lagonda Global Appoints New Chief Financial Officer & Chief Executive Officer

Read More

'Made In Wales' - The First DBX Drives Off The Production Line

Read More

Le Blanq Cycling Tour

Read More

Find Other Posts