The Land Rover Defender– The Original Shoot Vehicle
With many in furlough and more time on their hands than usual, we’ve seen plenty of people working on their cars. The Land Rover Defender here has been rescued from a Welsh hedge. This isn’t an exaggeration as the car in question hadn’t been driven in decades after being “parked” in a field in Monmouthshire. We’re not sure how you end up abandoning a Defender like this but it happens. We spoke to Chris who has been working on his Defender during this time and its come a long way. We’re hoping that the hedge it was found in will be the last hedge it gets stuck in!
The majority of shoots nowadays are riddled with Range Rovers, Discoveries, Land Cruisers and Ford Rangers. But more often than not a Defender will be in attendance. In my opinion, taking a true Land Rover (Series 1, 2, 3 or Defender) to a shoot is much the same as using a Side by Side. Whilst it may not be the most practical of vehicle options, from a heritage standpoint on a shoot it is the most appropriate.
The early Land Rover’s and Defender are seeing somewhat of a resurgence. With second hand prices steadily increasing year on year despite production ending in 2016 and the release of its successor. It’s clear that people still have a love for the boxy 4×4! It’s heritage and iconic looks aside this can be put down to one key reason: its practicality. When I say practicality, I don’t mean fuel consumption or performance. I mean that fact that you can drive it through a hedge without caring a great deal. Whilst a new Discovery is as good off road and immeasurably better on road it starts at £46,000 for a basic spec version. This is quite the step up from even some of the best Land Rover Defenders.
This means rather than enjoying a shoot, you spend a great deal of time worrying about whether your muddy dog has ruined the luxury boot liner. It’s this rugged flexibility that appeals to the new generation of shooters as well. The ability to be firing in quick succession whilst lamping without spent cartridges burning the seats, the ability to throw 40 braces in the back without having cover the boot first, the ability to ferry around 9 people in a station wagon variant whilst still being the fraction of the cost of a modern equivalent. The full metal interior is hose friendly meaning that a muddy dog and kit can be put in there carefree. The do first think later should be the moto of these rugged vehicles!
Take my Land Rover for example. It was sold new to a farmer in Wales in 1986 and hadn’t run since 1998. Yet with a bit of tinkering and chassis work, I had it MOT’d and running for less than £4000. You would struggle to find an appropriate 4×4 for less than that without risking a catastrophic breakdown. All too quickly that bargain 4×4 may be left as a wheeled statue if you opt for something fancier. Granted, Defenders are certainly not the most reliable 4×4 in the world. However, unlike a Range Rover or Discovery, if for example should the fuel pump breaks it will only cost you £30 for a replacement part. The work only requires two 8mm bolts to be loosened on an easily accessible part of the chassis. Unless you are a mechanic, you have a slim chance of doing the same repair on a Range Rover for less than £500. Other options you may consider could be the Suzuki Jimny The Jimny often gets a great deal of good press. Arguably better road handling and exceptional off road capability but lacking versatility. Trying to fit 4 people, 4 guns and Labrador in the back of one would be an impossible task. You’d also be missing out the iconic look.
Overall the Land Rover Defender whether it be the Series models or the 90’s and 110, ultimately represents the best shooting vehicle on the market. They never seem to lose value regardless of the millage. Their cult following gives you access to extensive parts and knowledge that you wouldn’t have elsewhere. It’s also rugged enough to conqueror most obstacles and looks good doing it. As an icon of British Countrylife, the original Defenders will always be a hallmark of field sports. So, here’s hoping the 2020 Defender will be able to step up to the mark. It’s a big ask to fill the boots of a vehicle like the Defender, but we hope it can be done with the latest carnation.
Live listings of Land Rover Defenders:
Defender 90: Here
Defender 110: Here
Defender 130: Here
Series I: Here
Series II: Here
Series III: Here