I appreciate that Land Rovers have their detractors, and that it may be hard to understand the affection with which they are held by enthusiasts, but there is something rather endearing about them. I grew up at first on a mining town in the Namib Desert, where Land Rovers were by far the most used cars.* After that, we moved to Malawi, where my father bough a Series IIa from the Museum of Malawi. Land Rovers became synonymous to me for dependability and trustworthiness, if not always fully reliable (broken cart spring many miles from the nearest road etc) and field-repairable, at least to limp home.
These days, nowhere near Africa, we have Mungo, a Defender 90 bought from new, a 2000 model year Heritage, with leather interior, white-backed dials including revs, and various other cosmetic updates. He has 185000 miles on the clock now, the battery and exhaust are still original, and the first set of BFG All-terrains lasted 88 000 miles. I wanted this one because it had fewest electronic doodads, not even electric windows, though of course the TD 5 engine is electronically controlled. in 185000 miles, it has never broken down, though once started stuttering due to oil getting into the internal wiring loom on number 3 cylinder. We did have some difficulty on the island of Skye, once, when we had a flat tyre and the encapsulated wheel bolts had bubbled after internal corrosion, meaning we needed a garage to get the wheel nuts off with welding gear. Our intention was to have a vehicle we did not need to replace for decades, and we may still achieve that with him.
We get 30mpg, year in, year out. This goes down to around 25mpg at speeds above 80mph. Once change we made was to replace the transfer box for one that had Discovery quiet gears, which also lowered the cruising RPM by 10% or so. This was done as soon as the warranty expired.
We live in the far north west of Scotland, which gives us an excuse to have a Land Rover, and I must admit, with the number of deer on the road in these parts, I prefer it when my wife takes the Land Rover to go places, as she is likely to be safer in the Land Rover than more crumply alternatives. As we are near the sea, corrosion is inevitable, but I see no other 15 year old cars in the area, 10 years being about tops before they've rusted to bits. This year, Mungo passed his MOT without trouble, for the second year running.
There is still something special about a Defender, and I still childishly purr with delight when a stranger comments about the big lad. It's very sad to see the end of this line, understandable though it may be.
* - this was a diamond mining town, and the security guys were always after better desert transport. The best they found was a standard VW Beetle, with the "bonnet" at the back raised to allow extra air flow, fitted with standard tyres at the front, to track through the sand, and 24" tyres at the back, to float over the top. There was a notorious Namib dune that could not be scaled by any vehicle until this beetle trundled up it merrily one morning.