Automotive production

Evolution of the Defender: from the Land Rover Series to an Individual Brand

Jaguar Land Rover plans a massive rebranding that results in the separation of Defender, Discovery, Land Rover, and Jaguar into individual brands. How could our favorite Defender go from just a car to an entire brand and become a household name?

Originally inspired by Jeep and always aimed to beat Jeep, the Defender is a series of consistently off-road, all-wheel-drive vehicles – SUVs and pickups, This is one of the three most popular Land Rover models, along with the Discovery and Range Rover. Many of the world’s military forces, police, and governments have used the Defender. It has export and foreign-built versions, licensees, clones, and a bunch of special editions and packs.

 Land Rover Series

The predecessors of the Defender are the Land Rover Series I, II, III, or simply the Land-Rover made from 1948 to 1985. The series Land Rovers differed from other cars of the time.

They used a sturdier fully box-welded frame. had non-rusting aluminum alloy bodies and leaf-spring suspension with selectable 2- or 4-wheel drive, though vehicles produced between 1948 and 1951 had constant four-wheel drive. The models could be started with a front-hand crank and had optional front and rear power takeoffs.

The Land-Rover was the first mass-produced civilian 4WD vehicle with doors and a hard roof. It continually excelled in space utilization: short-wheel-base models offered seating for up to 7, while long-wheel-base ones had up to 10 seats.

Land Rover Series III 1977
1977 Land Rover Series III

Land Rover 90 and 110

The Ninety and One Ten models replaced the Land Rover Series in 1983 and 1984 and were produced until 1990. They inherited the Series III body panels and the engine but got mechanical upgrades, like coil springs, a permanent AWD system, a 2-speed transfer gearbox with a lockable center differential, a taller one-piece windscreen, and, progressively, a range of more modern and powerful engines.

In addition to 93- and 110-inch wheelbases, the carmaker also offered a 127-inch version – the Land Rover 127 (later called ‘130’) which joined in 1985.

Land Rover 90
Land Rover 90 from the 80s

Land Rover Defender

In 1990, the Land Rover Defender replaced the Land Rover 90 or 110. It was marketed till 2016 when it was discontinued. In 2020, the model returned as a re-imagined, all-new Defender.

The 90 and 100 Land Rovers came with a range of 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, including a 2.5L Diesel Turbo, as well as gasoline V8s. After 1990, the Defender’s engine lineup expanded by adding BMW’s 2.8-liter gasoline 6-cylinder engine, a 2.5 L Td5 turbodiesel I5.

Land Rover Defender 90 2.5 TDi County 1994
1994 Land Rover Defender 90 2.5 TDi County

The Model Today

Unlike predecessors, the modern Land Rover Defender has a unibody construction instead of a body-on-frame one, and a fully independent suspension versus previous solid axles. The coil-spring suspension is standard, while an air suspension comes as an option.

The Defender has an 11.5-inch ground clearance and is able to ford through 35 inches of water: it’s more than the Jeep Wrangler‘s clearance and wading capability.

The latest 2024 model is available with three wheelbase variants: the Defender 90, Defender 110, and Defender 130.

The engine lineup includes gasoline engines: a 4-cylinder 296-hp one (P 300 configuration), a 6-cylinder 395-hp mild-hybrid (P400), supercharged V8s – namely a 493-hp P500 and a 518-hp P525.

2023 Land Rover Defender 130 image
2023 Land Rover Defender 130

Common Issues

The Defender is a reliable, good-quality vehicle, but even excellence may have flaws,

The most frequent flaws the Defender owners complain about include windshields cracking for no reason that ultimately obscures visibility, faulty exterior lighting that is risky for safety, steering failures, and malfunctioning brakes.


The Land Rover Defender has gained the reputation of a durable and capable off-roader with a timeless design. No doubt, it is an iconic model, and icons are highly demanded and often expensive. With MSRP between $53,500-118,400 (2023 model), the Defender is considered a decent value for its class,

We believe the model is now at the peak of its career, and, according to the latest news, will soon separate into an individual brand. The future Defender-badged vehicles will be off-road focused ones (Who would have thought!).

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