July 13, 2016 @ 02:22 PM

Billionaire plans to defend the Defender

Chemical magnate intends to resuscitate iconic off roader; as if Defenders ever die.


After 68 years of production and not much in evolution that made it so endearing and indestructible, Land Rover pulled the plug on its iconic Defender early this year as the tough-as-nails SUV succumbed to ever-stringent vehicle regulations.

Although Land Rover is promising a successor, it will undoubtedly sacrifice some of the ruggedness for on-road charm. Additionally, its simplicity in design and Ikea-assembly requirements will be ditched in favour of something a little more sophisticated as well for mass market appeal.

So in steps a certain Jim Ratcliffe; billionaire chemical industrialist and diehard Defender darling, that intends to revive the icon by buying it off the hands of Tata; Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company. Ratcliffe is apparently already in talks with executives from both sides about purchasing the stampings and tooling to continue production in small batches on his own.

Similar to what Caterham has done with the Lotus 7, Ratcliffe could produce a limited quantity of Defenders for diehard fans and seeing that the replacement from JLR will be completely new, they certainly have no need for the existing stampings and tooling for the old model.

The only thing up in the air is if Ratcliffe is interested in purchasing the Defender name as well, seeing that calling it something else would be seen as sacrilegious to purists. On the other hand, it would not be a shrewd move on JLR’s part to give that up as the following that it has garnered will certainly be a pulling factor for the new model that could very well attract a new demographic of customers much like the new Minis did under BMW stewardship.

A smaller, more focussed production of Defenders could also lead to more customisation from the production facility or one-offs that are comparable to the likes of Icon and its work with the discontinued Ford Bronco.

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