LAND ROVER’S latest offering isn’t quite what I was expecting. After years of teasing us all with a Defender replacement it’s simply decided to dust off its archive drawings and bring one of its old models back.
I jest, but only slightly. The latest offering from the people who make the best 4x4xfar isn’t the Defender’s actual replacement – you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for that – but they really are offering as-new Series Is.
It’s the first time you’ve been able to do that since 1958 – and while they’re perfectionist restorations rather than brand new cars, it leaves me with very mixed feelings.
The Series I might be the Land Rover that started it all but it’s got a very different place in my head to the sacred cow far too many people have made it nowadays. Not that long ago I’d spend Saturdays in disused quarries and muddy fields watching these things being thrown up tricky inclines and bumper first into baths of cold, mucky water. It’s a bit like that wonderful moment when you unleash the Golden Retriever and watch it immediately dive into the nearest pond. Getting grubby and having fun is what old Land Rovers are all about.
But nowadays it’s rare to see a Series I rolling around in the dirt because they’re so valuable, and I suspect it’ll be the same with these ‘new’ ones. There’ll only be 25 of them – making them rarer than a Ferrari F40 or a Bugatti Veyron – and the price tag of anything between £60,000 and £80,000 means they’ll cost about the same as a BMW M5 or a 911. They’re just too precious for anything approaching proper off-roading.
Yet there is a weird bit of reverse logic to bringing the Series I back, because the parts are greater than the sum. Chances are you’re never going to spend the price of a small house on a 1950s Land Rover but it proves you can get just about any part imaginable for the scruffy old one your mate’s got buried in his garage. Try doing that with just about any other car you could’ve bought new in 1958.
Not being able to get bits anymore affects more cars than you might think. I know of people who struggle to keep cars from distant periods of history like the 1990s going simply because Volkswagen no longer makes obsolete bits of metal for the Corrado’s sunroof. There are loads of perfectly good Rovers, Fords, Peugeots and the like which risk getting thrown away simply because the parts don’t exist anymore. Cars like the MGB and Mini have a big enough cult following to justify the parts being remade, but most don’t. Which means a lot of our motoring heritage risks being killed off because the spares no longer exist.
Land Rover – even if its by showing us a hugely expensive ‘new’ car – is taking a step in the right direction by making the parts. All we need now is for everyone else to follow suit.