Earlier this year, Land Rover ended production of the Defender. The Defender finally succumbed to stiffer government vehicle safety and emission regulations. But after 68 years of production, people became fond of the boxy brute, and at least one wealthy fan is interested in resurrecting it.
According to a report from the Times, Jim Ratcliffe, a 63 year old billionaire, who happens to be an avid Defender fan, and made his money in the chemical industry. Jim met with Jaguar Land Rover executives to talk about taking the Defender off parent company, Tata’s hands. It is unclear however, whether he’s interested only in the pressing and assembly equipment, or the name as well.
Ratcliffe’s plan faces several hurdles. Specifically, he will need to find a new engine suitable for powering the Defender, because the 2.2-liter turbo-diesel is no longer compliant with European regulations. The Defender has a relatively big engine bay, luckily, so finding an existing mill that fits shouldn’t be complicated.
Then there is the name …
This is all interesting because we know Land Rover intends to market one that is significantly more pleasant on road and less simple and rugged.
JLR certainly would not be needing the tools for the old model, so it wouldn’t be hard to imagine selling it to someone interested in producing low quantities of the original.
It would however be a surprise if Land Rover sold the name, considering how the company could promote their new model with the history of the icon. If we do see a continuation of the classic Defender, we are sure there would be many happy owners and new potential buyers.
While none of these issues are insurmountable, there’s no guarantee that the project will come to fruition. Jaguar – Land Rover hasn’t shown any interest in selling off the Defender’s design, and it hasn’t publicly commented on the negotiations.
The British automaker has come out in the open saying the Defender comeback reports are not to be trusted, as the brand values the model’s heritage and name awareness far too much to allow others to use the rights.
It appears it’s mere media smoke – with Jaguar Land Rover officially denying anything like this could happen. “There is no way this is happening,” commented recently a spokesperson for a British publication. “We’re not going to let anyone build our Defender.” The automaker added there are no plans to restart the production of the Defender model in its current form.
The rumor should have been taken not with the usual pinch of salt, but with a bucket full to begin with. Having been out in the wild for 68 years of uninterrupted production history, the Defender is not a mere icon – but a true legend for Land Rover. And with a new generation coming in 2019, no one would have believed the company would just sell that legacy away, right? And Land Rover only ended the Defender production this January, with the new one coming to life as a true XXI century model though still deeply attached to its past.