Name: 1948 Land Rover
Year(s) Produced: 1948-1958
Number Built: (?)
Class: Off-road vehicle
Body Type: 2-door off-road vehicle
Engine: Rover 1.6L 1593 cm3 / 97.4 cui
Power: 50hp @ 4000 RPM
0-60mph: 87.9 seconds
Top Speed: 61 mph
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Length/width/height: 132 in./61 in./ 70.5 in.
Wheelbase: 80 in.
Base Price: US$ (?)
Highest Price: US$576,000 (Barrett-Jackson)
The 2,016,933rd Land Rover Defender rolled out last January 29, 2016 at its Solihull plant in West Midlands, UK marking the end for the 68-year old, venerable 4×4 icon. All good things must come to an end, and seeing this happen to the stalwart Land Rover is a rather depressing sight for most people who literally grew up with it. The Defender has become the most recognizable off-road car since it first appeared in 1948. In spite of its popularity among the Royals, armed forces, filmmakers, athletes, common farmer folks, and virtually all members of the motoring society, the curtain must eventually fall against this beloved Land Rover.
The Defender’s nameplate can be traced back during the early 90s, though its roots go much deeper than that. The 4X4 is an offshoot of the very first Land Rover patterned to that of the original Willy’s and other war-time jeeps. Its utilitarian design, courtesy of chief designer Maurice Wilks, immediately won the hearts of those in the police force, the coast guard, and the armed forces – and yes, even politicians and artists. With such a following, it doesn’t even come as a surprise that its greatest advertiser is the Queen of England herself, and her royal family.
Check out some of the vintage photos below to see how the Land Rover has been a silent chronicler of the Royal Family’s yesteryears. Photo descriptions were provided by Thomas Burrows of MailOnline.
Queen Elizabeth riding in a Land Rover with the Duke of Edinburgh, in September 1953, reviewing 72,000 ex service men and women.
Queen Elizabeth II riding in a Land Rover with Prince Philip, through the World Scout Jubilee Jamboree camp in Sutton Park, Warwickshire.
Queen Elizabeth II, with her sons Prince Andrew (left) and Prince Edward waiting for Princess Anne’s arrival in the Cross-Country event of the Windsor Horse Trials in April, 1972 – the Land Rover Discovery has cease production on Friday.
The Queen driving herself in a Land Rover, in January 2000, to the stables on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk
So what exactly happened to the Land Rover that it should warrant an end such as this? According to Darren Cassey of Carthrottle, the designers of the Landy should have acted earlier – years ago even. On commenting on the Defender’s eventual demise, Darren says, “It’s a hopelessly outdated vehicle that should have been updated a long time ago.” It’s kind of harsh, but truth be told, the Land Rover did not catch up with the needs of the time (such as responding to tighter emission regulations). Simply put as Darren describes it, “the Rover grew old without even putting on a decent fight to revitalize the model for a new era.”
Jim Holder, editorial director of ‘Autocar’ and ‘What Car?’ magazines, also believes that the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) made the decision to cease production of the Defenders because regulations have finally caught up with it, blindsiding its manufacturers. “They haven’t been able to update crash safety or the engine emissions quick enough. The world has overtaken it to a point where they can no longer keep on the right side of emissions and safety laws,” explains Holder. As it seems, the Landy found it hard to flex with the changing times.
So what is going to happen next after the last Land Rover rolled out from its Solihull birthplace? It’s a difficult question to answer. Admittedly for JLR, it will be a massive challenge to replace or even match the status enjoyed by the iconic vehicle. Commenting on the Landy’s endearing traits and what lies ahead, Holder claims that it may not be all smooth riding from this point onwards. ‘It’s a charming vehicle. It’s a go-anywhere, a rugged symbol of solid construction. But the truth is the Defender today doesn’t sell in high enough numbers. The challenge is how to broaden its appeal without ruining the key aspects that make it so appealing.’
We will keep watch together with the rest of the world, and see if the Land Rover is capable of a comeback.