The rich history of the Land Rover Defender

rich history of landrover defender

The Defender is back in the Land Rover family of products this year and the public reaction to it has been nothing short of incredible. It's easy to see why, as its design is breathtaking.

What's doubly interesting is that it was inspired by the rich history of the model. In fact, the Defender is the soul of the Land Rover company.

Let's go back in time to learn more about the Land Rover Defender.


It was in the aftermath of World War II that things began for the Land Rover Defender. Note that at this time, the name Defender was not yet in use; it was not until the 1980s.

To trace the model's first steps, we have to go back to the mid-1940s, at the end of the hostilities in Europe. At that time, Rover was left with a large empty factory in Solihull, near Birmingham, England. Due to the rationalization of steel, Rover could not resume production of its cars. It decided to introduce a light 4x4 vehicle for agricultural use, simply named Land Rover. This model, which was supposed to be there temporarily, quickly became the bread and butter of the company.

So much so that over the next few years, many variants (different body styles and wheelbases) were produced. However, since styling was secondary to the utilitarian nature of the model, aesthetic changes were few.

Thus, the first model will remain in the catalog without significant modifications for 10 years. The 250,000th model was produced in 1959.

Series II and Series III

In 1958 and in 1971, the Land Rover Series II and Series III were born. The aesthetic changes were minor, while the spirit of the original design was retained. The main difference with the Series III was the relocation of the headlights to the front ends, whereas they were more central, in the grille, from the beginning. The big moment for the model came in 1970 when Rover introduced a V8 engine.


In 1983, the name Defender was adopted and the model underwent a serious facelift. Its style remained inspired by the original vehicle, however. And like today, the company introduced the 110 model first, and then the 90 version later.

This generation of Land Rover Defender was marketed until 2016. In total since the late 1940s, more than two million units have been delivered worldwide.

And with the current version, the glorious history of the Land Rover Defender continues. The goal of three million units sold seems very realistic.

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