We are now almost seven decades into its history, and though tastes and technology have changed a great deal since 1948, the Land Rover still endures. New converts join the band of devotees each year. List prices continue to rise.
For one thing, a vintage Land Rover has the quality of being instantly recognisable. Many have attempted to improve upon or outright impersonate the look of a Land Rover -- to capture the same harsh, utilitarian, unyielding beauty -- but few have succeeded on either front. Another reason for her continued appeal is that to many the Land Rover is and always will be a reminder of a particular sort of British resourcefulness. Indeed, it is almost the mechanical embodiment of the stiff upper lip -- not just built to last, but built to be worked upon; to be patched up and repaired and to continue running, come what may. It is a vehicle built with adventure and exploration (both personal and geographical) in mind.
There is a particular place in our hearts for the Series II model. Less angular than the original Series I, it also featured a more powerful engine than its predecessor. On the road it was a little crude but off-road, it came into its own. We liked to take ours across open country, with our Jack Russell along for the ride: to feel the mud splattering under our wheels and to listen to the engine bellow against the terrain. Come rain or shine -- but preferably rain -- driving it was an experience to enjoy.
Perhaps now more than ever, the Land Rover stands in stark contrast to everything else on the road: it is rugged where modern design demands sleekness; openly tough where it could be alluring. But that is part of its appeal. It is not so much a victory of substance over style, as it is proof that when it comes to Land Rovers, substance and style are one and the same.
It would have been impossible to predict this ongoing love affair when the first Land Rover rolled off the machine line in 1948. But so far, the Land Rover has lasted six-and-a-half decades. Only a fool would bet against it negotiating another six-and-a-half.