It is really quite simple . . .
There are no fins and no spoilers.
It doesn’t swoop, curve, or look like it’s going fast when its parked.
It never looks like it’s going fast.
It doesn’t go fast.
It doesn’t cosset your behind with the skin of a rare animal.
It doesn’t cool your face with the soft breeze issued from a warm mac dash.
Its wheels are not magnesium.
But I am not asking you to go out and buy one, or to put a poster of one on your wall, we are talking about great cars. That’s not the same thing as desirable cars.
So, let’s get down to the greatness of the Land Rover. For starters it is totally and utterly classless, it tells the world nothing about your wallet, your aspirations, your success, or your abilities in the bedroom.
In a Land Rover you can work the land, or you can own the land.
Draughty old collie carrier it may be, but kings, prime ministers, toffs, shepherds and solicitors can all climb out of a Land Rover and look proper.
The Series 1 Land Rover was launched in 1948 with permanent four-wheel drive and the capacity to work as a car, a tractor, a generator, a welder and a fire pump. Its body was hand built using aluminium left over from the war effort, its light green paint was a hand-me-down from fighter plane builders, but they got it right. Its separate chassis and bolt on body construction is still used in today’s Defender. It wasn’t broke, so they never fixed it, even after 55 years of production and 1.8 million cars, and people appreciated it, so they kept them going. Incredibly, 70% of all the Land Rovers built are still on the go today, 70%! Compare that to the VW Beetle, over 27 million were built – Can you imagine 70% of them still cluttering up the roads today? Their time has gone. The Beetle did nothing except exist in large numbers, but the Land Rover was a ground breaker. Along the way it spawned the Range Rover, and in doing so created a whole new type of car: the sports utility vehicle.
So, it’s classless, it’s clever, it’s virtually indestructible, and its got some pretty impressive offspring, but here’s another thing. The reason why this is a great car. The great car.
Land Rovers only do important things: it’s part of the fabric of life in town and country, and probably every day of your life you’ve either seen or been near one.
It’s taken pregnant mothers through snow storms to hospital, carried rescuers up remote mountains and supported the livelihoods of millions of families.
Whilst others pose, preen, and cruise, the Land Rover has contributed directly to all of our lives through peace time and war.
It’s crossed deserts to deliver food to starving people, explored inaccessible territories to help map the world, built telecommunication networks, brought law and order to hostile places, and helped preserve the rarest of animals from extinction.
It’s been claimed that the first car seen by 60% of the developing world’s population is a Land Rover.
I defy you to find one way in which it fails to measure up to be what it’s supposed to be and to do what it’s supposed to do, and it’s beautiful, truly beautiful, in the way that the weather-beaten, care-worn face of a desert nomad might be beautiful.
It needs a knighthood, and a statue, but I tell you, whatever happens, if it’s heaped with glory or ignored, it will make no difference: a Land Rover would never turn up to collect an Oscar, it would be far too busy, doing something important somewhere, for someone.