This British billionaire wants to keep the Defender alive

Projekt grenadier - announced at a little Pommy pub.
Projekt grenadier - announced at a little Pommy pub.

There is a new Land Rover Defender coming. But if you think it’s going to be anything like the old one, you’ll be disappointed. The new Defender will have to appeal to a lot more people, which means it’s going to have things like comfort, sound insulation and basic ergonomics. It’s also probably not going to be shaped like a giant box of tissues, nor have basic, old-school live axles on a steel ladder chassis. It’s a genuine shame and the end of an era that the Defender as we know it has reached the end of the road.

There’s a bloke over in England that agrees with me. Fortunately, he is significantly wealthier and more business-minded than I am, because he has hatched a plan to build a 4X4 that will replace the Defender.

A no frills 4X4, which has payload and capability at the very core if it's design isn't serviced by Land Rover any more. We have the LandCruiser in Australia, but that's about it.
A no-frills 4X4, which has payload and capability at the very core if it’s designed isn’t serviced by Land Rover anymore. We have the LandCruiser in Australia, but that’s about it.

It’s called Projekt Grenadier, which is essentially a plan to bring the Defender back from the dead and into showrooms once again. What it’s exactly going to look like isn’t covered yet, but the project wants to fill the void left by the Defender. They use the term ‘uncompromising’ quite a bit, which is definitely what the Defender is all about.

It’s going to cost something like £600 million to make the project happen, which will create up to 7,000 jobs (direct and indirect), with a plan to have something ready by 2020. Jim Ratcliffe has spent a fair amount of time ‘overlanding’ in Europe and Africa, and appreciates the basicness that makes the Defender so awesome: gruff simplicity and a simple, hard-wearing interior and exterior. The embodiment of function over form.

Some people have talked the Defender we all know being bought up and re-built by somebody other than Land Rover, but I can’t imagine that they would hand over the keys to one of the most iconic vehicles of all time without an incredible sum of money. What this will shape up to be is a new vehicle that celebrates the utilitarianism that Land Rover has forsaken in the quest for luxury and ‘lifestyle’ oriented vehicles. Let’s hope they build something awesome, with plenty of engine, and bring it to Australia.


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  • In the 1970s we had three early 1970s “Defender” Land Rovers. We tried to love them but they were under powered, very thirsty when trying to tow anything, poor build quality, water and dust leaks everywhere, dangerous ineffective brakes and rust wherever steel met the ally skin. I learnt to become an excellent bush mechanic because they did break on a regular basis. Rarely ever touch my spanners now as have moved to a modern Japanese 4×4.

  • I have a 110 TD5 Defender that will likely see my motoring life out but there are a number of minor improvements that I would love to see if this latest project gains the commercial traction it deserves. The aluminium body is great and the way to go but I am not to fussed on the steel and aluminium direct contact used in many places in the body construction like the doors and bulk head. These areas could benefit from a combinations of composite materials and or totally aluminium or totally steel as used in the doors of the later Defender models. Strength with light weight in the body is the only way to go and simple well designed mechanical components such as the fine efficient TD5 engine has proved to be.

  • Yep, love our 1999 Troopy. Pulls our 19 ft Jayco. Love a newer vehicle but every time we talk about it we come to the conclusion that’s it does the job and I can fix it. Dave The
    (Grey Nomad)…..

  • We have a defeder90 goes anywhere we love it. Just because of new design rules the best off road vehicle used by so many armies in the world has been become the victim. 4×4 users have become soft along with their cars.

  • Couldn’t agree more, I’ve got a 1983 Toyota Landcruiser, 60 series.
    Still going strong after all these years.
    Only problem a dead battery, started with the second one though.

  • Getting sick of seeing every year the 4WD getting more luxurious,expensive and more electronically wise,a lot of people love 4wdriving but can not afford to buy one.lets keep the 4WD basic And in affordable price for poor people,we don’t need luxury neither electronics just keep it simple to afford it and the kids have fun and easy to fix.

  • I have a Land Rover discovery. I love it. Yes they should bring it down a notch or two with the electronic side of things because if the normal person who is not mechanically savvy breaks down in a remote area , which unfortunately happened, You wouldn’t know where to begin to fix the problem. Yes I still want something that feels good to drive , reliable and has a few little luxuries. But it needs to be mechanically practical as well

  • Australia needs someone to build something more stylish but plain and simple. No electric button 4×4 crap, Levers. Less electrics. Stop getting to technical so back yard mechanics can getem going in the bush enough to get you home. Appeal to the real four wheel drivers not city slickers.

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