To understand why this picture of the DC100 concept – an official image drawn by someone working at Land Rover, not an Auto Express-style artist’s impression – marks such a momentous occasion in motoring history you have to understand the context.
The outgoing hardcore Land Rover, the Defender, has been with us in one form or another since 1983, and is the direct descendant of a string of off-roaders going all the way back to the original Series One of 1948. The fact that its styling and off-road ability have barely changed in more than sixty years mean it isn’t just a Land Rover. It is the Land Rover.
It’s a big deal to me personally because I’ve been brought up in a family of Land Rover lovers – two Series Twos, two Range Rover Classics and a 110 Station Wagon, if you’re interested – you should care too. Travel to say, Shropshire or Somerset and every cattle auction, rural police station and country pub car park is brimmed with Defenders. The proper Land Rover, with its no-nonsense design and the obligatory horsebox, is just somehow part of the landscape.
Do I like the new one? It depends on whether Land Rover make a Horlicks of it or not. I actually quite like the styling and think it moves the car on, in the same way Jaguar managed with the XJ last year, but the secret to the old one’s success was in its ability to do a thousand different jobs.
That’s why, to make it work, Land Rover would need to make the DC100 not just in the shape you see above, but with an endless array of other bodystyles and in several different sizes to make it appeal to the Defender’s customers, which is everyone from school run mum to the British Army.
Designing the new Land Rover is an awfully big deal, because it’s an iconic off-roader that’s been doing sterling work in some of the world’s remotest places for more than 60 years. Replacing the Defender is one of the toughest tasks in motoring, and Land Rover knows it.
No wonder it’s taken them 28 years to come up with it.