Land Rovers live outside and are put to use as agricultural workhorses, their ‘Meccano’ style of assembly meaning that there’s no reason an old Land Rover has to die.
Expired parts can merely be bolted and unbolted from the chassis. And if that rusts away? Well, you can get a new one of those, too. It’s the cherished later ones, like the final Heritage-spec 90, that’ll be the ones most likely to be nestled inside humidity-controlled garages.
Neatly coinciding with the end of Defender production is the end of my time with Autocar’s long-term Defender, a 14-plate, short-wheelbase 90.
It came to us in the kind of specification that was increasingly common on later Defenders: a vehicle more about lifestyle than livelihood. It’s an XS Station Wagon, which means it gets two seats in the back and a veritable raft (sort of) of comfort and convenience features in the front, such as heated seats, air conditioning and, er, well, that’s about it.
It also came with an audio upgrade, some leather trim and the Black Pack that gave it both its distinctive looks and some of its dynamic characteristics.
The pack includes the cool 16in ‘sawtooth’ alloy wheels and the most off-road-focused tyres Land Rover offers, Goodyear
MT/Rs, whose puncture-resistant sidewalls are particularly stiff and, despite an 85-aspect height, contribute to what is a fairly crashing ride.
Not necessarily, then, the ideal set of boots for a car that wasn’t going to spend a huge amount of its time off road, because although I live a bit in the sticks (an hour and a bit north-west from the office, where broadband and 3G have sufficient difficulty getting through that it’s assumed I’ll need a minimum 500mm wading depth, too), what I do most is drive on the motorway.
Still, I’ve never found that motorway schleps are as big a Defender problem as people assume they are. Yeah, the controls are hefty and that ride is harsh, but I’ve always found the seats moderately comfortable. I’m 5ft 10in tall, so I can just about sit far enough away from the pedals, although anyone taller might find the seat doesn’t push back sufficiently, and head room is, as you’d expect, great.
My elbows don’t bang the doors, although I can rest my right elbow comfortably on the narrow top of the door card and hold the steering wheel. Meanwhile, because the seats are flat, it’s easy to move around on them to keep your circulation going and remain comfortable on long journeys.
I’ll admit, mind, that the longest journey I
put the Defender (and my back) through was
long even by my standards: to southern Portugal and back for a holiday. In all, that’s 3200 miles; divided over six days travelling down there but
just three travelling back. Some people said it
was daft, but I still counter that there’s nothing silly about using a car built for adventures to go
on a bit of an adventure.