Ratcliffe explains that Ineos is applying a very detailed German-style engineering approach to the car, already working closely with tier-one component suppliers to redesign their existing off-the-shelf systems for greater robustness. Ineos also has ideas of ways in which it believes it can improve on the original Defender recipe.
“Why Land Rover would have bothered with rust-proof aluminium bodywork and then not give the original car a galvanised steel chassis, I can’t fathom,” says Ratcliffe. “Britain had galvanised steel lamp posts at the turn of the 20th century!
“Most Land Rover owners know that exposing your chassis to water makes it rot, but that’s also because the design of the ladder frame traps mud, which, in turn, traps moisture.
“We can design our car to avoid those problems. And, while we’re at it, we can make it more comfortable, quieter, better laid out and better sealed than the Defender was; we can address all of the old bugbears."
However, he adds: “Design is the area where we’ll need to put in a lot of hard work, though." Ratcliffe is dismissive about a lot of modern automotive design, describing most of the cars he sees as “jelly moulds”.
Who is James Ratcliffe?
James Arthur Ratcliffe has a claim as one of the richest and most successful British post-war industrialists.
A chemical engineering graduate in 1974, he studied business and finance before founding chemical engineering group Ineos in 1998, buying up unwanted and undervalued facilities for the company from the likes of BP and ICI and turning their fortunes around. Ratcliffe remains the group’s majority shareholder. In 2007, he edged out Sir Richard Branson for a spot in The Sunday Times Rich List of the top 10 UK billionaires.
A fan of extreme sports and global adventuring, Ratcliffe has run marathons, been on expeditions to both
poles and once crossed Africa
by motorbike with three broken bones in his foot. His adventures mean he knows the value of a true go-anywhere vehicle.
Ratcliffe, who has lived in Switzerland, is also a keen advocate of a UK free of
European Union influence and is an equally passionate defender of the potential of fracking to provide cheaper energy supply in Britain.
Land Rover Defender review
Land Rover Discovery SVX revealed