What makes the Land Rover One-Ten/Defender such a sensation world-wide? For the most part, it’s an old hat of a car— impractical and cumbersome. It’s adorned with wonky, serrated plastic bits and bobs that threaten to inflict gashes on your body. If your body wasn’t enough, be prepared to make matrimony with a prominent banker’s daughter because it’ll soon lead to a barren wallet and an insatiable borrowing habit as your brain and eyes attempt to keep pace with the overwhelming spectrum of ‘polyurethane this’, ‘adjustable that’, and ‘strengthened other’—I think owners will know what I’m droning about. On the subject of loans, do channel some of the credit towards a gold membership at a gym because it’ll be a nightmare helming it around narrow and congested town-roads—no pinky-finger twirls of the steering wheel like your Toyota. On a more emotional level, you might as well rehearse stints at driving these things well in advance. Should you fail, precondition your mind to demeaning laughs from your friends as you ingloriously make your way into its disproportionate cockpit—with an utter absence of grace and poise. It’s a monumental blush on your cheeks on just about everything. So, why bother tolerating one? Well, if I may say so, you’d be missing out on the critical details of owning it.
Honestly, its infallible nature is what deepens its master’s relationship with it—I’ve had quite an eye-opening experience with an ‘89 300Tdi to assure you of that. Yes, it has terrible ergonomics and inferior fixtures peppered throughout it, but that’s why the experience is unlike any other. Take the horn for example, it would’ve been just fine on the steering wheel, like every other car. But no, sir! It had to be a Lilliputian ‘press’ on the steering-column stalk. The seating position is so horrid and the structure so snug that you’re forced to hang your elbow out of the window like some 60s Italian casanova to be anything close to comfortable. Regarding the spending, that perhaps is the most enlightening bit about the whole experience. It commands you to read and gain knowledge on the subject, and before you know it, you’re spewing Biblical dialogues on affairs related to galvanised turrets, bulkhead and outrigger replacement, polyurethane and OEM rubber bushes, steering geometry, castor angle, et cetera. You just cannot own a Land Rover without a working knowledge on at least the fundamentals. And exercising that knowledge on remoulding the car and its performance, especially when you get it right, is most rewarding. It’s a bit like old, musky timepieces—if you’re into vintage and oh-so manly mechanical movements, I might as well guarantee you’ll enjoy the clunking and clacking of the transfer-case, complemented by the intoxicating turbo whistle and gearbox clicks. It just renders you smug, leaving a few new strands of hair on your chest in the process. Talk about a manly experience.
Sure, a Land Rover One-Ten/Defender can be as hot-headed and demanding as your girlfriend/wife but does any of that ever wither the charm that characterises the bond between the two of you? I doubt, and it’s quite similar here. The more you spend time, the better you’d know her, which just prepares you for the rough patches ahead. Needless to mention, a Landie offers low-range capabilities and a lockable central differential, unlike your better half, so the transition ought to be a lot smoother.
Bear in mind, you simply cannot relish a Land Rover without being committed in the ways I described earlier and this most rugged of experiences is not for the feeble-hearted and impatient. A Land Rover project is capable of leaving you in tears, so you might just have to be brazen and intrepid during the dark hours of a crisis. That being said, once you’ve made the necessary effort, it’s bound to be a most fruitful experience, and trust me, you will have gained a faithful companion for the rest of your life.