As Land Rover celebrates its 70th anniversary, should we mourn the passing of the renowned Defender - which bore far more than a resemblance to the original Land Rover of 1948 - or question how it lasted as long as it did?
They were playing The Rolling Stones' 1964 version of All Over Now on the FM wireless when I climbed into one of the last-ever Land Rover三级成人视频 Defenders to leave the company's press preparation department.
三级成人视频The line "Because I used to love her, but it's all over now," pretty much sums up what I'd been thinking about this vehicle with a lineage and several part numbers that can be traced back to the sketch in the sand drawn by Maurice and Spencer Wilkes as they planned the first Land Rover just after the Second World War.
三级成人视频"It's had its day," said Roger Pride, a local farmer who claims it doesn't tow as well as it should, rusts like crazy and simply isn't as good as its Far Eastern rivals.
Pride's father, who most often drives said vehicle, is more forgiving. However, even he admits Defenders were a lot better before the company was owned by Ford; it bought Land Rover from BMW in 2000, before selling it on to Tata eight years later.
"But it's the last utility vehicle on sale," argued my good friend John, who owns one and drives it mostly off-road. "That's not to say it's any good, just that there's nothing out there like it."
When production of the Defender came to an end after 67 years, Land Rover produced three run-out models: the absurdly priced, £61,845 Autobiography, with two-tone paint, leather upholstery and lots of extraneous equipment; the £27,800 Heritage, painted in Grassmere Green with a white roof to recall one of the most famous prototypes; and the £43,495 Adventure tested here, with aggressively treaded Goodyears, a roof-rack and an engine-breathing snorkel.
You literally climb into a Defender and before the aluminium door flaps shut, the roof has dumped half a pint of rain water on to my trouser leg.
The dashboard features a haphazard plethora of push-buttons, black-faced instruments with white figures, and an old fashioned DIN-sized radio with a CD player and hard-to-find Bluetooth.
The freeze-or-fry heating and ventilation is a source of wonder with five demist settings –entirely justifiable since the windows steam up if you're just breathing.
The first thing I used the car for was a trip to Waitrose, where the snorkel attracted the sort of stares you might get if you pushed your trolley around in a frogman's suit and flippers.
W三级成人视频ith a steering lock that is more of an orbiting device, it took about five minutes of toing and froing to park. The Defender eschews reversing sensors and rear-view cameras, and instead has a mechanical parking sensor in the form of a huge spare wheel on the rear door, which nudges whatever is behind until it breaks or rings its solicitor.
三级成人视频Next I drove to Wales. Crazy, yes, but some people use a Defender as their daily driver and as we so often point out, we do it so you don't have to.
三级成人视频Well, you wouldn't want to, actually, because when I finally disgorged in Penybont, I felt like I'd survived a tour of duty in Vietnam. My back had been reshaped by the seat, my right elbow by the door trim, I was deaf from the continual din, the jolting ride had thrown my brain around my skull, and the heating had desiccated my eyeballs.
'This car is about as wieldy as a draught horse doing dressage'
This is probably the best handling Defender ever built and it's still dire. Blame the body-on-frame construction and coil-sprung live axles (located with Panhard rod and radius arms at the front and trailing arms at the rear), which take exception to large potholes and cause the car to leap like a spring lamb over road ripples.
B三级成人视频ody roll is controlled but abundant, and the steering, while well weighted and not quite as bad as it used to be, is still vague. As long as you keep four wheels on the ground a Defender will corner at speeds that most people would scream at, but it feels like 20,000 bolts and components flying in close formation and about as wieldy as a draught horse doing dressage.
O三级成人视频n the plus side, the all-round disc brakes are powerful and sensitive.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox come from the Ford Transit van. Most of the urge exists after 2,000rpm and before 3,500rpm, so you need to keep busy with the gearchange, which has a horribly sharp stitched leather gear lever knob. Oh, and the clutch is absurdly heavy, heavier in fact than a Transit's – we stopped a delivery driver to check!
Top speed is limited to a heady 90mph and acceleration is leisurely. Still, on a long run we coaxed the beast to 25.2mpg, which is pretty good considering it weighs 1.9 tonnes and has the wind catching aerodynamics of a topgallant.
It's an ill-kept secret at Land Rover, but the Defender is no longer the most consummate off roader it makes. Basic dimensions and geometry are impressive: approach and departure angles of 47 degrees, capable of taking a 45-degree slope forward and backwards and 35 degree slope sideways, with wading in half-metre depths. However, it's an unsophisticated vehicle, and the fine control of clutch, throttle and the low-ratio gears required to maintain stability and traction in all terrains isn't at the command of all drivers.
'It's exactly what you need when derring-do is called for'
T三级成人视频his is a vehicle for adventure, though; it looks better dirty and dented, and it’s exactly what you need when the clouds are pregnant with snow and when derring-do is called for. As a consequence, Land Rover Defender owners possess brand loyalty that makes even Altrincham FC supporters look fickle.
三级成人视频Yet the more I drove it, the more the Defender annoyed me. Everything that is good about it dates from years ago. Everything else is mend and make do, from the blanked off scuttle ventilators that look like windows bricked up after the 17th century window tax, to the inadequacies of the driveline and chassis.
Land Rover has starved this vehicle of investment, ignored utility and military contracts and allowed the Defender to stagnate. So, while the PR drips with crocodile tears about the demise of this old war horse, that demise has actually been a foregone conclusion for years.
A三级成人视频nd judging from the concepts and studies we've seen for its successor, they don't want to replace it with anything as competent or rugged. As one former Land Rover executive told me recently: "All they want to do is replace it with an SUV." And if they do that, where will their credibility be? I've got a sneaky feeling it really is all over now.
三级成人视频Land Rover Defender 90 Adventure
Tested:三级成人视频 2,198cc four-cylinder diesel engine, six-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel drive
Price/on sale:三级成人视频 £43,495 as tested (range from £23,100)/now
Power/torque: 148bhp @ 3,500rpm/295lb ft @ 2,000rpm
Top speed: 90mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 14.7sec
Fuel economy: 24.1mpg/27.7mpg (EU Urban/Combined); on test 25.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 269g/km
Verdict:三级成人视频 It's the final curtain, and that's really sad. But in its current form, by any rational standards, the Defender has nowhere to go except off the stage. It's poor to drive and there are better alternatives
Telegraph rating: Two stars out of five
Mitsubishi Shogun三级成人视频, from £27,144
Another car that attracts strong brand loyalty, despite it's weird looks. Big, 3.2-litre diesel engine makes towing easier than it is with the Defender, even though the three-door has only a three-tonne limit.
Toyota Land Cruiser, from £34,624
三级成人视频Monster body-on-frame 4x4 that was once the Defender's biggest rival. Now packed with equipment and luxuries, but expensive and, with its 2.7-litre diesel, not really aimed at the utility market.
Mercedes G-wagen三级成人视频, from £86,445
三级成人视频A 36-year-old anachronism based on a military vehicle, but Mercedes has kept faith with this hippo-like off-roader built by Magna Steyr in Austria. Prices make even the Defender look cheap.