back to article Iconic Land Rover Defender may make a comeback by 2019

Jaguar Land Rover is to resurrect the venerable old Defender – and it may be built abroad, according to media reports. The Defender design was discontinued in 2016 thanks to EU regulations on vehicle emissions. Unlike Volkswagen, JLR decided to halt production rather than engage in software trickery to defeat emissions testing …

Re: Belgian Guns

Oh the German H&K that was owned by a British firm at the time

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Re: Belgian Guns

"...Yes; Fusil Automatique Leger IIRC.

And a much better firearm firing a much more effective round as well, but the fashionable thinking of the day thought it it had too long a barrel for the Battle Taxis of the time...

Not just too long but using a non standard round - 7.62mm vs the NATO standard 5.56mm. But it did pack one hell of a punch.

Also heavier and very prone to jamming unless you were meticulous with cleaning and turned the gas return pressure right up, at which point it kicked like a fucking mule.

And remember that a longer rifle takes longer to track across an arc to a target vs a shorter barrel albeit usually at the cost of longer range accuracy. But assault rifles are meant to be able to deliver rounds fast in a general direction and not necessarily with huge accuracy - it's enough to hit the target it doesn't usually matter where.

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Re: Needling me?

Put a stop to slave trading we had a healthy role in establishing in the first place...

Slave trade has been around since Ug worked out if you hit the other Ug with a big stick hard enough to hurt him but not enough to kill him he will do what you want.

We didn't start it *, we did help finish it.

*OK we may have been good at it...

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Holmes

Re: Needling me? @ Alan Brown

"I spent many years working for an outfit where the job required spending lots of time IN (and driving to the top of) New Zealand's many mountains."

Do you have a white cat?

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Re: White cat

No, but his boss did.

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Re: Needling me?

The Japs did the same here, pretended that the only cars broken at the side of the road were British and theirs were perfect

Actually (from an empirical study of one household) I'd say that the evidence was pretty conclusively towards Japanese cars being build better than British. My wife's Morriss Minor as outlived quite a few of my cars (including a Rover Sterling 2.8V6 - using the Honda engine) but has broken down way more times than any of my cars (except, maybe, the Citroen XM - but no-one bought one of those expecting it to not break down).

My current car is a Honda FR-V - the only time it's ever refused to start is when the original fitted battery (fitted in 2007) finally gave up the ghost. It gets serviced once a year, never uses any oil and everything fitted to it by Honda in 2007 still works.

The Morris Minor lives on a regular diet of points, coils, light bulbs and other British car consumables. To it's credit, it doesn't use any oil either and 20 years of it sitting on the drive overnight (it gets used daily) there is only a small oil patch under the engine/gearbox.

And (absent the issues caused by the consumables above) the only real issue we've had in 25 years of owning it is having to replace the cylinder head and one of the valves after a double-bounce caused by too enthusiatic passage over some pretty feirce speedbumps. My wife managed to drive it on 3 cylinders for a couple of weeks before mentioning to me that it was sounding a bit rough..

Mind you, the amount we have spent over the years replacing iron-worm affected bits (bootlid, 3 wings, one twice, several sections of floorpan) as well as new carpets, seats, roof liner et. al. would have paid for a new car by now. I don't dare suggest it though.

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Re: Needling me?

Lucas weren't called the Princes of Darkness for nothing you know.

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Which market segment will they go for?

I doubt they will go for the high end, as they already have the Range Rover still doing nicely after what some 30 years. Plenty of other makes there are well in the SUV/4x4 bracket.

So it will be interesting what they come up with at the replacement point of the real utility (plus some comfort) end of the market.

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

There is no reason not to go for a straight utility market, the armed forces should be buying British and we should make them HERE, if needed set up another factory!!!! We have plenty of unemployed people and indeed empty factories (all the old Rover, LDV, Peugeot --- yes even before they bought Vauxhall they already shut down factories here, Ford plants are unused).

The defender had one HUGE advantage over the range rover et al, you could get it as a chassis with enginer etc and build a custom bodywork, plenty did, even the Germanz

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

Longbridge has been completely flattened and sold for development. There's a big M&S there now.

Ryton (where Peugeot were based) has been completely flattened and sold for development. I think houses are on there now.

I think the LDV works are still there, but they need to be completely flattened for them to be any use.

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

Then use the LDV works. I am sure that the machinery if still present is out of date but the space is there.

We have plenty of empty factory space because we have shut down so much, use some of it

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

How can the Range Rover compete?

Whenever I find myself behind a Range Rover I marvel at how little ground clearance they have. Even if they had more ground clearance, their wheelbase is still too long. If you drive a Range River over a mound, what's to stop it getting stuck on the top? How can you beat SWB and high ground clearance? (Ok a decent winch comes in handy:).

I think that applying modern engineering to an Early English Perpendicular 80" Landrover could produce an unbeatable compact modern off road vehicle. Otherwise i guess it's time to grin and bear the cost, size and parking problems of a Unimog.

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Ogi

Re: Which market segment will they go for?

> parking problems of a Unimog.

What parking problems? You can make your own parking space with a beast like that =)

Friend had a custom Chevy suburban ( Suburban body with Humvee bottom end and mil spec tyres) in London for a while. The wheels were too big for clamps and the beast too heavy to be towed, so he could park it literally wherever he wanted. It also took up 1 and a half road widths, so driving through London rush hour traffic was really interesting.

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

We have plenty of empty factory space because we have shut down so much, use some of it

Actually we don't. Most old factories are quickly flattened and turned into light industrial, business park or housing sites, because factories are dirty and unfashionable if you're a planner. Moreover, few old factories would meet the needs of today, for large scale, high power demands, comms, ventilation, insulation, load bearing, transport infrastructure etc, so you'd be better off starting again in most cases.

Having said that, the similar closures of military sites means there's plenty of land to use - St Athan is supposed to be Aston Martin's new production site, and there's plenty of other sites. And given the amount of prime farmland disappearing under crappy, ineffectual solar farms, I'd also suggest that if government hate farmland so much, manufacturing plants would be a better use than a few PV panels milking subsidies for a bank.

A more pressing concern than land is why government allow scabby US tech companies to dodge taxes that manufacturers and all types of SME are not allowed to dodge, and why government continue to deliberately inflict damage left right and centre with business rates and carbon-obsessive energy, planning and environment policies that make the UK an expensive and difficult place to conduct business.

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

Whenever I find myself behind a Range Rover I marvel at how little ground clearance they have. Even if they had more ground clearance, their wheelbase is still too long. If you drive a Range River over a mound, what's to stop it getting stuck on the top?

You move a switch and the whole thing rises up on its air suspension.

When you are cruising along a road, you move the switch to lower the thing down for better handling.

In fact, the latest Range Rovers don't require you to change the switch, they do it automatically.

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

>the armed forces should be buying British

Or they could invade somewhere and steal theirs - they are the ARMED forces after all

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

Space can be anywhere. Out of date machinery is a liability.

When GM moved one of its factories from Detroit to Mexico, it laid off 11,000 people in Detroit and hired 1500 in mexico. If forced to move it back, it is likely to only hire 500 or so and most of them will be pushing paper, not maintaining the robots doing the actual work.

if you were a factory assembly line worker and you got laid off, you need to accept that those kinds of jobs aren't coming back - ever.

And once you have robots doing the actual work the driving factor for location is supply lines, energy cost and distribution logistics. That tends to put the best location near the customers.

Don't forget that the UK factory towns weren't built where they were because that's where people were - Manchester was a miserable wet fishing village with a perfect location for steam-engine powered cotton mills because that damp weather made dust explosions unlikely and it had good proximity to incoming raw materials as well as transport for finished product.

People moved there for the work, not the other way around, and as the UK government has found out several times to its cost, directing that factories be located in XYZ areas to soak up unemployment simply results in high numbers of inexperienced people working on lines, turning out buggy product - and without years of expensive training, the problems won't get resolved.

It may sound harsh but expecting the government to provide work or force employers to operate in areas of high unemployment simply because people have grown up and lived all their lives in that area is a non-starter. It's been tried and failed too many times under governments of all stripes - the money is better spent on educating and training to ensure that laid off factory workers (etc) can be employable in other fields, or paid to move where work is available.

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MJI
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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

Range Rover now runs air suspension which means.

Lowered for more stable on road behaviour.

Raised for superior off road ability.

Anyway was it a FFRR or an Ejoke?

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

So how does the magic switch in a Range Rover increase the very modest gap between the differential casing and the roa^H^H^Hrock between the ruts? Does it instantly increase the diameter of the wheels?

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MJI
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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

Because the diffs are body mounted. L322 and on have independant suspension

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Re: Which market segment will they go for?

You move a switch and the whole thing rises up on its air suspension.

When you are cruising along a road, you move the switch to lower the thing down for better handling.

The old Citroen XM had that. Of course, you didn't ever want to use it as doing so ran a real risk of one of the ride-height adjuster valves becoming more Swiss-cheese-like than usual. And given the same hydro-pneumatic system ran the suspension, brakes *and* steering, blowing the valves could head to Much Fun(tm)[1] as all the suspension fluid departed the vehicle post-haste.

I miss the comfort and ride of that car. I don't miss anything else.

[1] Fortunately, switching off the engine usually stopped you in short order - especially when combined with locking the parking-brake. Which, in itself, was about as effective as trying to stop 1+ tonnes of car by putting your foot out of the door. It did carry less risk of multiple compound fractures to the leg though.

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I had the honour of having a tour of JLR in Solihull years ago, and walked through the Defender factory before finishing up on the more modern parts. The Defender was still built like it was 1948. Staff all with proper old hand tools, physically manhandling the panels and components on to the vehicle. It was a beautiful thing to see.

I have a feeling though that capacity wouldn't be that much of a problem for JLR. They've no problem acquiring different bits of land for staff car parks around Birmingham, not to mention the new engine factory that sprouted up on the M54. So, I think if JLR really wanted to build it here they wanted to.

I think, however, that's a massive outlay on the cost of a vehicle that they're not quite sure has a market anymore. The old Defenders command high prices on the second hand market, but the new concepts for the Defender they want to bring out haven't set the world alight. The vehicle looks, well it's hard to know how to describe it without being rude. Plus there is a concensus amongst those in the farming communities at least (the ones I used to speak to anyway) that the new Defenders weren't like the old ones, and I don't think they're likely to purchase new Defenders to replace the ones they have, as they the older ones do tend to run forever. Even friends that I have that work for JLR aren't enthused by the new Defender, and you do get the feeling that the powers that be actually haven't got a clue what to create to replace it.

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Anonymous Coward

"but the new concepts for the Defender they want to bring out haven't set the world alight"

Well no, they've completely abandoned the rugged functional off-road vehicle concept and cloned the current Range Rover chelsea tractor rich-mummy buggy design. Utterly frikkin useless for what the Landie-90 drivers I go on trips with use their tracks for!

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Stop

"JLR would design the new Defender"

Are they go to employ the same fsckwits who disgraced the Discovery and Range Rover lines by making them look like the aberration that is the Evoke?

If so, it would be better to leave the Defender go in peace to tread mud in the Darién Gap of our memories, instead of defacing its legacy.

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Design the new defender... quite simple really

Go and look up the designs from 1970, photostat them and start building it again, nothing else is needed. If needed them just lie about the emissions, VW do and they are NOT the only ones. (when was the last time you believed a fuel economy figure, top speed or acceleration number from any manufacturer? )

If you want a nod to the environmental lobby point out that any diesel landrover happily runs on the waste veg oil from the local chippy with no need to do anything to either the oil or the vehicle. It also lasts forever which in terms of pollution is far far better than cutting a 2 year old vehicle up and recycling it because some bit of pointless electronics decides the vehicle is too old.

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Re: Design the new defender... quite simple really

when was the last time you believed a fuel economy figure, top speed or acceleration number from any manufacturer?

The manufacturer states 16 mpg while in reality I do up to 26. It's a rare misstatement. Even more so from a Germanic manufacturer (an old G Wagon). So to answer your question: about 20 years ago.

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Re: Design the new defender... quite simple really

Volkswagen didn't just lie though, did they? They taught their car to tell the lies.

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Re: Design the new defender... quite simple really

>Volkswagen didn't just lie though, did they? They taught their car to tell the lies.

See! Car-based AI is already here!

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Why did people like the defender?

Well, it certainly wasn't the reliability. They break down all the time.

The important point was that when they broke down - which they would - you could mend them with some string, a hammer, and a bit of swearing. They weren't bullet proof, but they were sort of idiot proof. You don't need a million quid's worth of specialist electronic tools and a degree in software engineering to work out what was wrong with one and fix it.

And I love that about them, I really do. I'm just not sure you can build a car like that any more and still get it through all the safety and emissions regulations we have now. I'd love to be proven wrong, but having an engine to which the word "tolerance" is more likely to apply to the person who has to work on the bastard thing, than to anything measured in decimal places of a millimetre just doesn't sound like something you can do these days.

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

Really? Mine doesn't break down, and it is abused (sometimes I remember to put some fresh oil in but usually only when the noise reminds me). TBH using modern machine tools and modern materials technology should make all of them as reliable as each other, problem with hand made stuff is that no two are actually the same, yours might be a Friday afternoon recovering from the pub crock, or a Monday morning hung over disaster, mine might be the wow I have just had a payrise carefully constructed mid week one, you don't know, decent machine tools and automation get rid of the guess work.

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

You don't need a million quid's worth of specialist electronic tools and a degree in software engineering to work out what was wrong with one and fix it.

Seen a few old school Defenders, Hilux etc in Asia, that aspect I think is one of their strongest. If the thing breaks down in England you're fine, can't imagine trying to get a modern off roader repaired in some countries.

But I'll agree with the second poster modern materials and tooling sounds fine and sensible and should give you better kit.

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

Well, it certainly wasn't the reliability. They break down all the time.

This is just not true, earlier Defenders (and Series Land Rovers ) will go for years without breaking down. The problem is with the more recent electronic bits, but the general mechanicals will go for ever with a bit of maintenance occasionally.

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

@Dave 15

You may well be right, but I think I may also be right. One of my uncles used to work for Land Rover, and some of the things that came and went past him it's hard to imagine how they even got out of the factory. They were a mess, and it was just impossible to keep them running properly because they were fundamentally badly built to start with.

A proper modern, well managed assembly process could almost certainly fix that - and I'd love to have had a chance to drive a defender that was actually put together right - the only one I ever did drive constantly felt like it was on the verge of falling apart. (My mate who owned it insisted that that was perfectly normal, and that you just needed to hit the dash occasionally to get the lights to come on, which is why there was a large flat rock in the passenger foot well)

So, sure, I don't have a problem with that. Build the damn things better.

But once you're building them better, you still have the "how do I fix this in a field 200 miles away from the nearest source of spare parts or for that matter diagnostic tools" problem, and I'm not so sure about that one.

Landies are great to work on because they're just so primitive by today's standards. Once you have to start including all sorts electronic gubbins to get them through the emissions/safety tests, that's just a whole ton of things that when they go wrong - and every car I've ever owned has developed some sort of electrical fault at some point - they're going to be impossible to put right without a trip to a well equipped garage.

Maybe it's possible to build a car full of seat belt sensors, and anti-lock brake sensors, and fuel injection sensors and exhaust emission sensors, and engine management sensors, and be absolutely certain that all of those are just going to Keep Working (tm) but I've not seen one thus far...

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

"They weren't bullet proof"

Now you tell me. I had the occasional ride through Belfast in Army LRs. They did have some internal cladding AFAICR. It was held on by nut & bolt and the bolts hadn't been cut to length. The sticky-out ends were lethal.

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

" the general mechanicals will go for ever with a bit of maintenance "

Front half shafts were a common casualty on all our Series 2s. That was really the final straw for them.

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

Re: Why did people like the defender?

Well, it certainly wasn't the reliability. They break down all the time.

-------------

Seconded - I spent a lot of my working life in the 70's and 80's in a team driving LWB Land Rovers and although you couldn't beat them for off-road use, you couldn't rely on getting back - they were pretty unreliable, not to mention crude, noisy and uncomfortable. The drive shafts and gearbox were both under-specced weak points, especially on the 3.5 litre model. We used to reckon on about 13,000 miles between half-shaft failures and about 30,000 miles for a gearbox. We moaned a lot about the reliability of them, and took a head office guy up to a site once to show him the problems were real and, as chance would have it, we were just going slowly up the track to a site and 'BANG' another rear half shaft gave up the ghost and we had to slowly drive 50 miles back on the front wheels only. It was such a common failure that the guys in the workshop could change them while you waited, if they could hook out the broken piece from the diff, that was.. The basic design concept was brilliant, but the engineering let them down and they never kept up with the times. The story of British industry, I guess, especially the car wreck that was the British motor industry in the 70's...

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MJI
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Re: Why did people like the defender?

If you keep on top of maintenance they can be reliable.

But they do have niggles, however the basic vehicle can be kept going with repairs for decades.

They are basically a big Meccano set for adults.

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MJI
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Re: Why did people like the defender?

You can buy tougher half shafts

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

If the thing breaks down in England you're fine, can't imagine trying to get a modern off roader repaired in some countries.

You might be surprised. I have travelled various parts of the world including some we'd refer to as 3rd world areas in various vehicles ranging from a Suzuki SJ to a 1938 Argson tricycle and in some of the more obscure places repairs and parts have been easier to obtain than here in the UK for a mainstream car. Better customer service too in most cases as a lot of garages are family run, small and friendly.

I've managed to get clutch bearings for a Suzuki SJ in deepest darkest Russia and a spare wheel and clutch rod, plus welding gear, very early on a Sunday morning, for an Argson. Try doing that in the UK with your Focus or Astra or whatever.

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Re: Why did people like the defender?

"You don't need a million quid's worth of specialist electronic tools and a degree in software engineering to work out what was wrong with one and fix it."

That may well apply to early defenders but a close friend spent over A$13,000 trying to get his antilock brakes fixed, ended up selling it quietly because he simply did not trust them.

I, personally, have owned three English designed and at least partially built cars. One comment, Lucas Electrics ! I think that should be enough.

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"cannot"

Bollocks

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Anonymous Coward

Superceded? NOT!

"Although long since superseded by superior Japanese wagons in its core market of "general purpose off-road-capable 4x4""

You, what?? I beg to differ - on our 'green lanes' days we have about a 50/50 mix of defenders and discoveries vs a motley crew of Japanese imports such as hilux surfs, nissan patrols, suzuki jimny's etc.

There is a HUGE market for Land Rover Defender after market parts and accessories, so they're going to be around for a very long time yet even if they aren't ever produced again.

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MJI
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Re: Superceded? NOT!

Can someone tell me of a superior Japanese off roader to my Discovery 2?

Because I have not heard of any.

Oh and the only breakdown I had was due to age and a rubber pipe popped off a metal pipe.

Comfort, it is very comfortable.

Ability, good on ordinary AT tyres, well it does have traction control AND diff lock.

Handling, it is ACE for an odd roader.

Performance, stage 1 TD5 no contest.

It looks good, goes well, comfortable, could go anywhere between a muddy field and a posh hotel.

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Anonymous Coward

"Probably won't be built in Blighty, sadly"

Which was the last remaining reason to go for one ahead of the superior Japanese rivals!

Thanks but no thanks.

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Defender end was strange

JLR had daily free advertising for the Land Rover County/Defender on UK TV -- and anywhere that the programmes were broadcast. (Occasionally on an old episode of Heartbeat, you'll see an Austin Gypsy, easily mistaken for a classic Land Rover.)

JLR does not understand free adverts. They don't understand the brand image of Land Rover.

The Defender puffed out fumes owing to an old engine, so that problem could be fixed. The Austin FX4 taxi had a lousy engine and they changed it many times,

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MJI
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Re: Defender end was strange

Engines, well there is a lot of rubbish spouted about them

Series, they had a generally reliable push rod engine, not powerful nor economical but lasted for ever. Most well known are the 2 1/4 petrol and Diesel

90/110 enlarged series engines (2.5l), V8 and the 19J, only disaster was the 19J, now mostly replaced by 200 and 300 from rotten Discoverys.

Defender

200, a revolutionary direct injection Diesel, VERY reliable, a classic engine.

300, an improved 200 with more power and more refinement. Killed off by EU3. Last version of the Series engines.

TD5, a unit injector engine, only survivor from a Rover group new engine programme, powerful, reliable, very tuneable, best engine note besides a V8. Killed off by EU4.

Puma, Ford Transhit engine, rough, sound van like, torquey but no power, not very reliable compared to the previous 3 lumps.

Most engines were reliable with a few sillies like the plastic head dowls, and timing belt alignment. Only bad engine was the early turbo Diesel (19J).

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Owners of old Landrovers hardly ever buy new ones - they only buy 'less old' ones, so why would JLR bother producing in UK? Defender production this century never went above 3% of output anyway...

The idea of taking a Toy-boat-a anywhere isn't one i'd relish, the days of them being more reliable off or on road than a Landrover ended in the 1990's.

The comment above regarding ground clearance of the later models is worthy of explanation - JLR produce vehicles that people want to buy, they are developed for the biggest markets - currently USA, Russia and China - but are given 'offroad' capability (better than any other IMO) that will barely be used - if ever. Some models benefit from air suspension that can be raised automatically or manually to give greater clearance when needed, conversely, it can also be lowered to give car park clearance or greater stability at speed. In addition, the traction control systems mean that you can be 'cross axel'd' but still maintain traction and forwards movement - something that would leave an earlier Defender (or every Japanese offroader i've driven) in need of a tow or assistance from a shovel or winch.

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Time to face reality

That's business reality.

First, when VW resurrected the Beetle it was not a Beetle. It was designed to sort of maybe look a bit like a beetle and latest iterations are no longer so recognisable.

BMW and the Mini - ditto, even worse. Anyone who compares the latest so-called Mini with Issigonis' original is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Point : So any "new improved" Defender will be no such thing. End of story.

Second, why should JLR cannibalise its own sales with an upper range SUV when they already have several Range Rover models there. That leaves space - perhaps - for a low end rugged off-roader which is either (a) cheap and cheerful and therefore NOT WORTH THE INVESTMENT or (b) full of today's essential bells and whistles ....see "Point" above.

One possible option is the cheap and cheerful version for e.g. China's farmers. Anyone who has seen a farmer transporting his produce to market by means of a generator lashed to an axle will know what I mean. BUT Tata-owned JLR obviously do not want to do cheap and cheerful and they probably would do better embarking on such a business plan from India anyway.

Third I have been driving Jags for many years and now have two and a Land Rover D4**. Whilst I was cautiously happy with the business and design decisions coming from JLR UK I am fast becoming thoroughly pissed off with local service since they clearly want service income to compete with sales income. For example whereas the service depot used to be spread over two floors it is now cramped into one floor crammed with Jags and LR's fighting for space.

Tata and JLR are going to have to come up with something good and I mean very VERY bloody good to retain my loyalty to the Defender brand.

**Maybe not the style that most purists here are waxing lyrical about but I am *****d if I am going to try and drive a 90 or 120 through rush hour traffic.

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Re: Time to face reality

BMW and the Mini - ditto, even worse. Anyone who compares the latest so-called Mini with Issigonis' original is living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Of course, the flipside of this is the modern Fiat Cinquecento. I remember the ones from the 70s [1] and the modern ones are pretty close in design, but with modern internals. Of course, the modern internal are still Fiat so don't expect them to be particularly robust or reliable but are still great fun while they work..

[1] My dad worked for an Italian pharma company and so, in the 70s) used to get work-experience Italian students coming over to stay with us for a few weeks each summer. One of them drove all the way to the UK from Milan in his original Fiat Cinquecento. We used to refer to it as "the travelling overcoat"..

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