Luxury SUV maker Land Rover says it will bring a new, modern version of its Defender truck to market in 2015. The company also says it will show a concept vehicle called the DC100, which hints at the next-generation Defender’s appearance, at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Sept. 13.
Land Rover says it will produce the coming Defender for the global market but it isn’t yet clear whether it will sell the vehicle in the U.S. The previous Defender, a crude but tough and beloved truck the company sold to military forces as well as civilian consumers, was available in the States through the 1990s before safety rules and other factors pushed it out of the market even as SUV sales were soaring here.
“Few people do iconic, long-lived machinery better than the British,” writes MSN’s Sam Smith. “Consider the success stories: Jaguar E-Type (14 years of production), MG MGB (18 years), Austin/BMC Mini (41 years), countless others. And then there’s the Defender, introduced in 1983 and still going strong.”
He continued: “In many ways, the Defender is older than its 28 years. The “Series” Land Rovers that came before it – the original British off-roaders, built from 1948 to 1985 – gave the Defender its basic aesthetic. The D’s sheep-herding, mud-bogging, Africa-crossing good looks are little more than a mild update of the Series III’s simple panels, and in profile, the two trucks are almost identical. In essence, Land Rover has managed to stretch a simple idea, created in England just after World War II, into a six-decade phenomenon.”
The next Defender is likely to be a departure from the old one in several ways. It will have a more refined design with more technological features and modern structural materials. But it is likely to stick with the traditional no-nonsense approach for which Land Rover is well-known.
“Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide,” said Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern while discussing the DC100. “This isn’t a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century.”
“McGovern is just as suited as anyone for this,” writes Sam Smith. “He knows Land Rover well, having worked there since 2004; he’s also been at Rover/Ford/Land Rover on and off since the early 1980s. In short, this guy is familiar with the brand and what it means. He also had awesome 1980s hair-band hair once, and really, you can’t not trust a guy with locks like that.”
“The concept is creative to be sure,” writes CarAndDriver’s Justin Berkowitz. “Most important, the Defender’s classic boxy shape remains, as do the vertical door handles and the hood that sits higher than the flat-topped fenders.”
He continued: “The vents on said fenders, however, are totally modern—and a bit out of keeping with the Defender’s minimalist philosophy—and the front clip blends old and new by placing classic round headlamps in a swept, contoured fascia.”
“The massive wheels appear to have been borrowed from Temple Beth Israel, as they sport a six-pointed star pattern, while the low-profile rubber reminds of us of most Rovers’ roles as tools for suburban posturing but seems ill-suited for the LR that most frequently gets dirty.”
The Defender is perhaps the most traditional and famous of all Land Rovers. It has been sold virtually unchanged for decades. Its boxy shape and go-anywhere off-road abilities have made the Defender an icon. But its antediluvian underpinnings (and thus a lack of safety and emissions equipment) mean it can no longer be sold in the U.S., and that by 2016 sales in Europe will have to stop.
The Web debut of the Land Rover DC100 concept is one of many expected in advance of the 2011 Frankfurt auto show, which officially begins its press previews on Sept. 13. TheBlogIsMine’s Auto Category will be running advance coverage of the show’s most highly anticipated debuts and will be on the convention floor in September. [via Car Advice]