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The Final Days of the Defender As We Know It

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Like death and taxes, some things are inevitable. We all know the day will come, the day the last Defender rolls off the line. That day is getting nearer as news reports gather like the circling of birds, awaiting the bitter end. Just last week, The Telegraph reported once more that come December 2015, the Defender, simply referred to as a Land Rover over the span of seven decades, will be no more.

For 67 years this stalwart fixture of the British backroad has done dutiful service in the military and private sector alike. Farmers, generals, and royalty have all shared time behind the wheel of various incarnations of this vehicle from Churchill’s Series I to the Defender 110s used by the well-to-do of High Street. It is as much a part of Old Blighty as afternoon tea, and as symbolic as Big Ben. What will Britons do without their Land Rover? Soldier on, I suppose, within the confines of an LR4 or Range Rover.

These vehicles have suffered innumerable assaults and indignities yet survived. Who knew they would meet their undoing with the advancement of transportation regulations. With the current model unable to keep pace with the tightening of motoring requirements, a wholly new Defender is scheduled to arrive in 2016. Insult to injury, it will not likely be made in England, but rather in India. How fortunes change. While it will wear the Defender name, it will have little in common with the Land Rover of 2015, 1983, or those which came long before. Images of the new Defender have been met with dismissive groans, dashed hopes, and lowered heads. Perhaps in this case, the view ahead isn’t as captivating as the view looking back.

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Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.