The Land Rover has a wonderful legacy. The Land Rover story began in 1948 as a basic utility vehicle for farmers, delivery companies and the military. Used by the British Army, and the armed forces of many countries, the Land Rover later became synonomous with expedition travel, particularly in Africa. More Land Rovers have been used to cross Africa than any other vehicle. For years Land Rovers were a vehicle of choice for overlanders, for reasons related to payload capacity, space efficiency, off-road ability and toughness, availability of spare parts, simplicity of design and fuel economy. We later took a test spin in South Africa (December 2010 – see separate post) impressed upon us how functional the Defender is.
The appeal of Land Rovers is not universal, they also have their detractors who emphasize that they are unreliable, uncomfortable, and noisy. They have now been greatly displaced by Japanese vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol, but the Land Rover retains an almost mythical appeal among overlanders. One catchphrase I saw on one club site typifies the less than completely rationale commitment to the product: “Land Rovers do not leak they are just marking their territory”, or “Land Rovers are always sick but never dead”
There is a vast network of Land Rover Clubs around the world, full of people who are prepared to tolerate the drawbacks in exchange for the functionality.