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The Land Rover Defender: A Brief History
06 September 2016


The Land Rover Defender has been one of the most popular 4x4 models since its inception in 1948, and continues to be even today. Where most Land Rover models have evolved into SUVs and become more adapted for road use, the Defender is the one true Land Rover mule sticking to its long standing all-purpose, go-anywhere attitude.

The Land Rover Series 1 started production in 1948, and was primarily designed as a 4x4 for farmers and country dwellers, as a multi-purpose vehicle for work in harsh terrain. Over many years, the Series 1 slowly evolved, until in 1983, the Series 1 was no more.

The world saw the introduction of the Land Rover Series 2, and later, the Series 3. After years of fine-tuning to the Land Rover Series between 1983-1984, two stylish and powerful Land Rover variations emerged – the Land Rover Ninety, and the Land Rover One Ten.

The ‘Ninety’ and ‘One Ten’ referred to the size of the wheelbase on the vehicles, and in 1989 when Land Rover released the Discovery, there was little to distinguish the Ninety and One Ten from the Discovery, which is why Land Rover renamed both vehicles to the Land Rover Defender Ninety, and Defender One Ten in 1990.

Evolution of the Defender

Ever since the arrival of the first Land Rover Defender models, the 4WD series has been slowly evolving. With the renaming of both the Defender 110, and Defender 90, also came the Defender 130 – a renamed version of the 1985 Land Rover 127, the Land Rover Defender 130 was a heavy duty vehicle capable of carrying up to 1.4 tonnes. Throughout the 1990’s, the Land Rover Defender went on to receive consistent updates to both the engine and the rest of the car.

It was early into the 2000’s that the Land Rover Defender 4x4 saw a major update. With a body redesign, an engine replacement from the Td5 (to Ford’s DuraTorq TDCI turbo diesel engine), a six-speed gearbox, forward facing rear seats to replace the side seats from the previous model, and a modernised interior. The Land Rover Defender was reborn as a safer, sleeker, and more powerful vehicle.

In the 2010’s, the Defender underwent some small updates, such as the engine swap from a 2.4l to a 2.2l, and the release of a limited edition version called the Land Rover Defender LXV.

The Final Defender

All good things come to an end, including the Defender. 68 years since the start of production, 29 January 2016 saw Defender number 2,016,933 roll off the production line - the final ever Defender to be produced. This soft top Land Rover 90 Defender is to be kept by Jaguar Land Rover, and added to the Heritage collection.

The Defender Lives On

The Land Rover Defender 4x4 was a stylish and powerful vehicle from the very beginning. Many 4x4 enthusiasts see it as one of the best off-road vehicles in history. The Defender’s powerful engine, sturdy body, and comfortable interior make it the perfect car for off-road exploring.

There has been much speculation about the return of the Land Rover Defender, with many enthusiasts believing it may make a comeback. However, Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth, said that the previous Defender will not return.

A spokesperson said in an official statement:

"We can confirm there are no plans to restart production of the previous generation Defender.” It was also said, however, that the "Defender will always be Land Rover's icon. Jaguar Land Rover has stated its intention to continue the Defender lineage with an all-new model. The Defender remains a key part of our future product strategy, and the development of the next generation model remains on track."

So, enthusiasts could soon be seeing a continuation of the Defender series.

Defender Enthusiasts

Land Rover Defenders from this line are still available to buy, and many Defender enthusiasts will continue to drive theirs for years to come. If you own a Land Rover Defender, we can help your Defender perform at its optimum with a brand new set of high quality 4x4 tyres.

At 4SITE 4x4 Tyres, we have a range of Land Rover Tyres for sale. And with a selection of on-road, off-road, and all-terrain Land Rover Defender wheels and tyres, you’ll be sure to find a set to suit your driving style.


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