The Land Rover Series 3 is a unique vehicle, to say that least. On the one hand, it is a feat of engineering expertise; a lasting achievement in built-to-last vehicle construction. On the other, it is a design of such startling simplicity that a child could draw it without difficulty.
Born in 1976 - arguably the strongest period in Land Rover's long and storied history - it was built, like its predecessors, with global adventure and exploration in mind. British-built, the Series 3 is almost Lego-like; an assemblage of utilitarian, functional technology designed to work time and again. Function triumphs form at every turn. And yet, the brutalist design is, in its own way, a thing of beauty. It is unfussy, undemonstrative, simple.
We took one out on a trawl through the Cumbrian countryside, on a solo trip to test the Series 3's mettle. The first thing we noticed - or to be more accurate, remembered - was the speed. Fifty miles per hour is about as quick as this hardy machine will go, but there was no sense of frustration to be felt. The engine growls. You feel every bump and imperfection in the terrain, and the steering wheel reverberates in your hands.
But that is part of the magic of the Land Rover; you feel as though you are truly driving it; that you are using every bit of your skill, concentration and strength to control it. What's more, you can really feel, from behind the wheel, that this is a vehicle which will go the extra mile if you want it to. It will take on any challenge. It is a friend for all seasons and all endeavours.
As iconic as any other British motor ever assembled, it may lack the glamour of a Lotus or the kitschy appeal of a Mini. But this, to lean on a literary cliche, is the Everyman of cars. It is stubborn, stoical, reliable. It does not demand attention or accolades, but just goes on, and on, and on.
After an afternoon of driving, the hardest thing was to say goodbye to the Series 3. It is a car which inspires great affection. At the risk of sounding like we've gone a little soft, we actually felt as though we'd just been reacquainted with a long-lost friend. It certainly won't be quite so long until we sit down with a Series 3 in future.