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“Why would anyone need a car so big? I bet they never even take it out of the town”
“I hate 4×4 drivers – never looking where they’re going, hogging the roads!”
“People in Chelsea Tractors – what is the point?! Just get something smaller and cheaper!”
Hands up if you’re guilty of ever saying any of those – we know we are.
Seen by many as excessively big, uneconomical and sometimes just plain ugly, the British public’s view on 4x4s is a complicated, touchy subject.
Public opinion is pretty well divided over 4x4s, luxury SUVs and Chelsea Tractors, as they’ve been derisively nicknamed. The problem, it seems, is one of perception – a situation where one man’s commanding road position is another’s road-going eyesore, and one’s gadget-packed interior is another man’s tacky plastic clutter.
But, amidst the suburban arguing, the environmental hand wringing and the cries of road-safety campaigners, is a car that seems to transcend the perceived ‘flaws’ of a 4×4.
A car that draws only affection, not hate. A car unchanged for decades, one that successfully avoided the plague of plastic trim that has beset similar motors, staying true to its practical, rural and military roots – the Land Rover Defender.
The Land Rover Defender – A True Icon
Car models may come and go, and marques inevitably update and mould their motors into newer, more modern, sleeker forms, but there has been something rock-like about the Defender over the decades.
Stick on some mid-afternoon telly, some repeats from your father’s generation, and you may well see a Defender starring, a Defender remarkably similar to that one parked just down the road. It’s styling and practicality have never changed or wavered, and are just as relevant today as they ever were.
Whether it’s the Defender’s rugged, hard-working looks, its immense practicality or the fact that it didn’t bow before pressure to conform to modernity, style and luxury, you’d be hard pushed to find many people with a bad word to say about it.
Sadly, this year, the incredible decades-long saga of the Defender is finally coming to a close, as sixty-seven years of Landy Ninety, One Ten and Defender production will grind to a halt this December, a fact being mourned over in the latest edition of Influx magazine.
To commemorate almost seven decades of manufacture coming to an end, we’ve decided to take a look at just how popular the most iconic Land Rover still is, and what makes it so.
How popular is the Defender?
Simply put, the Land Rover Defender remains one of the most popular utility 4x4s in the UK. You might be more likely to see a modern luxury 4×4 on the road, but the Defender has carved out a niche for itself that no other make or model can compete with.
From military and police use, forestry, agriculture and industry needs, through to use as a daily driver, sports vehicle and use by landowners, the Defender excels in almost every role it tackles – only held back from wide-spread success by a lack of modern tech and its not-so-family-friendly, rural image.
Insurance statistics from Adrian Flux reveal that the Defender is as popular as ever, with more than 24,000 motorists on record as having got a quote for their Defender in recent years. Meanwhile, the website howmanyleft.co.uk reveals that more than 102,000 are currently licensed on British roads – a number that has been growing steadily since they first rolled off the production line in 1948.
Taking a look through the Flux stats also revealed that the vast majority of Defender owners are male – 18,900 to 3,200 women. Whether this is explained by Defenders being used in predominately male industries, or that the look and feel of the vehicle appeals more to men than women, we can’t say – but it’s clear that the famous Landy has captured the hearts of a certain crowd.
How Much Will One Cost?
Once we found out that the beloved Defender will soon be put out to pasture, thoughts immediately turned to getting behind the wheel of our very own. But, how much would it cost us to get our hands on a piece of motoring history?
Digging through the statistics revealed some surprising facts about how much the average Land Rover Defender is worth in different areas of the UK. We’d assumed, perhaps unfairly, that the most expensive Defenders would be found in trendy East London, in major cities around England – but in truth we couldn’t have been more wrong.
In fact, the top three locations for pricey Defenders are countryside regions, Banffshire and Clackmannanshire in Scotland, at £19,450 and £15,300 respectively, along with Wiltshire in England at £18,200. These high prices are countered by some remarkably low average values in other areas – just £3,000 in Blackburn, £4,000 in Milton Keynes and £5,000 in Liverpool – perhaps representing the greater need for newer, higher-quality working vehicles in rural areas compared to urban ones.
The insurance stats from Adrian Flux also reveal that the average annual comprehensive insurance policy for a Defender in the UK is £459.18 – making them a relatively cheap vehicle to buy and insure, especially considering what they’re used for.
The End of an Era
The Defender’s reputation as reliable (and what better reputation can a 4×4 have?) has seen it become a mainstay of military and police use and a regular sight everywhere from the farms of England to the Highlands of Scotland.
And, as manufacture draws to a close this December and the production line is retooled to usher in a new model, we’re left in no doubt that the Defender and its predecessors will be revered as motoring titans for years to come.
The world and the taste of motorists may have changed dramatically over the last 70 years, but the Defender has remained strong – a beacon of post-war engineering, examples of which will no-doubt outlast us all.
Find out more about the incredible 70-year history of the Land Rover Defender, and what’s next once production ends this December, over at Influx.co.uk