I could hardly contain my elation upon seeing this parked just a hundred meters down the street from me on my way to work on this particularly frigid morning. That goofy trademark “polo stripe” down the hull indicates this is an older 90″, possibly even pre 1990. ”Tdi” badging and minisnorkel on the bonnet denote a diesel.
Australian auto-armorer TJM supplied the front bumper, and that “chequerplate” style armor trim is decidedly Euro-style. (American offroaders tend to favor “diamond-plate” for this application). The wheels are NATO issue with dedicated off-road tires, a lift has clearly been fitted as well. The whole package makes for a very rare beast indeed, at least here in America.
Since Land Rover’s announcement of a “Global Redesign” on the iconic Defender at the Paris Auto Show, forums have been alight with discussion on the vehicle’s return to the USDM.
But whoever’s running the show over there better be careful- because the 4×4 crowd is a conservative lot; it’s hardly uncommon to see leaf springs and carburators at on an off-road course. And most enthusiasts, including myself, are cynical and wary that this “re-imagining” of a classic will simply translate to “castrating” since nobody with the money to buy a 2012+ Land Rover is going anywhere they might get it dirty.
Jalopnik released this older photo of the Defender concept, to a nearly unanimous “boo” from its commentators.
“There will be a new Defender, and it will be tough as nails,” says Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern.
Hmm, galvanized burly-man city-building nails or the kind of nails that get done at a salon?
Frankly, I don’t much care what the new Defender looks like because when I buy my next Land Rover it’s going to be old enough to be my dad. Or an RRC.
But I do think this illustrative vehicle is pretty close to what we’ll see in the desert/Newbury Street when it gets dropped. Land Rover drew a wacky concept with the Evoque- then built it. So now… we wait.
After Finke I got my second real taste of sand riding on the way into Lambert Center, a loamy and twisty ride of 12 kilometers to the geographic center of the world’s largest island.
Carl offered some good advice on negociating the blind corners;
“Imagine there’s a car coming around every corner. If you’re not in control going around the corner, there’s no point in going around the corner at all.”
Making it both in and out of the Center without coming off or colliding with another vehicle, I finished another day feeling satisfied.
Our next stop was Dalhousie Springs, a beautiful swimming spot kept at a toasty 30-something degrees Celsius by geothermal heat. But once again I found the parking lot more interesting than the point of interest, as I spotted a late-90′s Defender with French license plates and just about every accessory you can strap to a Landy.
The family of four traveling in it were indeed from France, having shipped the vehicle to Melbourne they had driven it to the Red Centre and were planning on driving home through Asia and the ‘Stans after a lap of Australia.
I had a hard enough time overlanding with my family to Prince Edward Island from Boston ten years ago… can’t imagine how these Frenchies will get on, but good luck to them.
Two roof tents, an awning, hood-mounted tire, and a quarter-panel jerry can mount… Magnus reckoned whoever built this did a Google search of everything cool you could stick on a Land Rover and bought whatever he saw. I could do without the stickers, but looks nice in white.
But despite having the entire catalog of off-road accoutrements, the only way you can be sure it’s a Land Rover is the fact that the hood is up.
Cruising down the Steve Irwin Highway last week (yeah, that’s real) I spotted an Australian military convoy of Land Rovers and Unimogs. Trucks always look sexy in uniform, but there were a few exceptionally buck nasty rigs on the road: 6 Wheel-Drive Land Rover Defenders. I had never seen anything like it, so I figured it was worth risking being deported as a spy to get some photos. Check ‘em:
Standard 4WD, but that trailer’s pretty burly: