Land Rover Defender Blog


Updated: What Makes a Defender Iconic?

Unless you've had your head under a rock for the last few days, you'll be aware that Land Rover have shown a few concept pics of the potential, 2015 replacement Defender.

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

November 29, 2011

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year


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Updated: What Makes a Defender Iconic?

29th November 2011


Granted, it's very early days for this vehicle, with the JLR top-brass and design directors saying it's only a very early concept design that will evolve before it's release.

That said, the initial concept isn't really winning many admirers. We've sifted through countless FaceBook, Twitter & forum posts, all in an effort to try and gauge the reaction of Land Rover owners to the DC100. The overwhelming response? We've found maybe 5% of the Land Rover world like it. That's not exactly the best start. So, why exactly has this new design been such a controversial move? The DC100 doesn't relate to the current Defender design in any way. It's like the designers just started from scratch. 60 years of history have seemingly been wiped out and a vehicle that will sit within the current Land Rover line-up has been made.

So, we've assembled the most iconic shapes and panels of a Defender, to try and help Land Rover incorporate a little more of the past and hopefully win over Landy nuts.

Front Wings

The front wings of a Defender are almost irreplaceable. Unless of-course, you really want to replace them, in which case the whole thing separates into two parts and they simply bolt on with a few nuts.

This design is brilliant. It means removal / repairs are very speedy and also allows for swapping simply the side panel if needed. The flat shape is perfect for attaching accessories and chequer plate for example. Unfortunately, the new Defender seems to lose this practical, chunky design in favour of a more rounded (granted, aerodynamic), shaped and formed wing, which looks like it will be quite a pain to remove with basic tools.

Side Doors

Just like the first ever prototype Land Rover, the body panels of a 2011-Plate Defender are simple. Simple in construction, appearance and function. There's no complicated trim on the inside either, meaning doors can be swapped out in 10 minutes. The hinges are designed to set the alignment of the panel, but these do tend to corrode.

The DC100 lacks any kind of body furniture (such as the sticky-out, almost useless door handles & locks) or the chunky, blocky hinges that sit proudly just behind the wheel arches.


The design of the Defender is quite complicated, with rain gutters, seals, seams, hinges, rivets, door mirrors and general screws dotted about and yet it still manages to look quite minimal and simplistic. We love the subtly curved windscreen mounts and that rain gutter (complete with a tiny, pizza shaped notch to drain water). There's nothing on a Defender that doesn't perform some sort of function, or at least offer practical value.


The bulkhead corners are one of worst places to get rust, but they are also one of the most intricate and detailed. Lot's of curves meet here to create the sub-structure. The Defender designers clearly were inspired by Land Rovers of old.


Finally, the rear tub. The capping on the end of the bodywork help to add rigidity and also mean the tub can be part disassembled to replace panels. However, with this sort of edging, complete with rivets, the designers created a really industrial look and feel. The raised bar that sits just below the rear panel is the surface that soft-top roof hooks are mounted.

Putting it all together

So, now to put it all together. The DC100 is perhaps just a bit too far ahead of it's time. The Defender has, and always will be, 20 years behind in terms of design. The jump Land Rover have made is too big, but there are changes and tweaks they could make to the new concept car to reflect more of the vehicle's past. So, we've incorporated everything that makes a Defender into the PR photos.

Here's the changes outlined. Click the image for a higher resolution sample.

What do you think to our "Defender 2", based more upon the original Defender? Would you buy it? How would you design the Defender's replacement?

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  1. Dave Heeson says:

    Now that looks more like it!!! I would be front of the que for this!! why Lr don’t employ you is a mystery!

  2. patently says:

    Much better effort. Now, stop waving this at us and go to Gaydon instead 😉

  3. Pete C says:

    Simply brilliant FunRover, your modifications to LR’s concept makes it a hell of a lot better. I couldn’t have thought it out better myself.

  4. Sam Russell says:

    Much better! Well done FunRover!

  5. Eugene Chang says:

    Looks much better than DC100, especially with squared off front end, but front bumper still hangs too low. Those indicators are still very vulnerable.

  6. this is better but the front bumper needs to be removed cos it will brake when you hit a rock it still has a way to go it needs to look like a tractor

  7. Diego Saralegui says:

    I do like your new Defender, quite better that the “skoda” Land Rover designers are proposing.

    Beam axles fron and rear, Rear diff locker, a little more comfortable in the interior (some room for the elbow, for example) and the modular concept that make the Defender such an adaotable machine.

  8. LucasBlack Lucas Black says:

    Much better…. but I still think they can keep the original design and not infringe on any Euro legislation.

    There is a need for a consumer Defender. A new chassis and deformable front end would allow the current shape Defender to pass safety legislation. Sure, it just looks like a Defender, but isn’t as capable for add-ons… but it can retain the total look.

    For the commercial legalities though, the current Defender is still fine. Just keep selling the current model as a truck back or van back… You can sell it as a goods vehicle or commercial and avoid those look changinf Euro laws…. and there’s nothing to say that the buyer can’t then add a station wagon back end… more seats… but it’s still a commercial vehicle as per the license….

    INFACT… there are many old Land Rovers around that parked next to each other all look the same body style… and yet the documentation differs between them. Some say ‘Station Wagon’… some say ‘Commercial’…. all depending on how it left the production line.

    This commercial/station wagon irregularity is also the reason that some (e.g) Series 3 Land Rover owners will suffer in new London emission fee’s and fines. EG… an 88″ diesel with bench seats in the back… If you are registered as an oil burning station wagon you should be fine…. but if you have commercial on your documents, then you are going to suffer…

    Land Rover can use this twist to KEEP MAKING the current style Defender!

  9. Philip Coote says:

    Much better, good work, the roof line is still to low for me and can we have the Alpine windows back!

    Pushing my luck here but I suppose asking for the return of the front vents is out the question?

  10. mehere says:

    This is DEFINITELY the way to go – agreed it needs the alpine lights though….

    I have owned & driven Defenders for over 25 years – currently an ’07 Puma 90 Commercial.

  11. TONY PROCTER says:

    As a Brit and “Landy tragic” who has suffered with ownership of Landrovers for the past twenty years, but loved every (well not every) minute of it, I own and run now a 2007 D3, I remember being horrified at it when I first saw it in a car mag in the UK, What have they done to the disco I cried? but after seeing the first one on a country road in the Lake District in Dark Grey it all made sense and I had to have one, it is a classic in styling, technology and engineering and I love mine here running it alongside all the Toyotas and Nissans over here in my new home in OZ, it goes anywhere I point it, has the big Landcruiser bettered in every way, so much so that even a toyota landcruiser tragic had to conceed, has crossed the Simpson desert, the Tananmi desert, the Kimberley region and the Victorian Alps high country, including winter sessions in deep snow and low temps, and has yet to let me down mechanically, so much for the unreliable Landrover nonesense.
    Why the Discovery? and not a Defender 110? quite simple really at 6′ 5″ tall and with a 50 inch chest i simply dont fit into a Defender, i can squeeze into one but couldn’t suffer the 10-12 hour driving days that i do out here in one, so to see the new Defender finally get off the mark i couldn’t be happier.
    The DC100? We’ll i’d probably buy one if that was what was on offer, but at present it just isn’t quite right, it is on its way, unlike some i dont want some retrospective of the old fender, I want a car for the 21st century, and I don’t expect the production version would be as radical as the DC100 shown, but we have to be realistic also, the current Puma powered fender only sells 18000 units a year, so we all say “much” loved but not by many, the DC100 is expected to sell 60-80,000 units and has to really to be worth the development costs, so even if all the 18,000 buyers a year of the current fender all run off and get a toyota 79 series, that still leaves 60,000 or so new buyers taking up the new car, LandRover still wins, and let’s be honest the DC100 is only a test bed to guage how far LandRover owners want them to go, there is no doubt in my mind they’ll reel it in.

    Love the design you have done though, i’d definately buy that, proper realistic offroad wheels, coils I hope on the corners or an manual inflation over-ride if air is chosen, squarer front nose, the one major dislike for me on the DC100 for me is the face, looks like its mascara has run down the front wing, its and unhappy face, the defender never claimed to be a looker but was never ugly either. And an end to live axled LandRovers, they have proved that IFS can be made with clever tech to go offroad as well as any Livey does.

    Buy yeh great rendering yourself, something inbetween the dc100 and yours would definately fit the bill, would have been interested in what you’d have done with the front end though.

    Anyway interesting few years at Landy to come, all the best, Tony.

    • Ben Gribbin Ben Gribbin says:

      Great input Tony, as you say, it’s probably more gauge or an indication of what they feel they can do (for example, those tyre speaks, I’ll eat my hat if they are on the option list in 2015) and the Defender is, undoubtedly a very low volume product. Whether this is the building process (i.e. hand built, as there is a 6-8 week waiting list) or just low demand I’m not sure, maybe it’s a mix, but either way, Land Rover need to modernise the Defender whilst making it more profitable. Does Land Rover get much in return from the large following of their used vehicles? Probably not a lot financially really, so losing customers won’t be much of a problem as you say.

    • Kevin says:

      I actually like his rendering. I wouldn’t own the DC100 for the same reason I wouldn’t own a Free Lander, it’s a chick car. I understand that Land Rover wants to increase sales of the Defender so what gets me is the fact that they don’t even bother to try sell it in the US. I mean if Americans are willing to buy those god awful H3s, FJ’s and Land Cruisers (at least the fake ones) then they could easily get another 20k+ out of the American market. All they’d have to do is the same thing Jeep did, shoehorn a couple of airbags into the front and just take the hit on the crash safety rating.

  12. Naveen says:

    Looks a million times better than the DC100. This is a true evolution of the original Defender. The DC100 is a soft SUV which looks like it can only do a grocery run in the city.

  13. red 90 county says:

    this woud be a brilont replacment it still has the stark contrast of neww defender but has the iconic histry still whithin but one critasism for land rover to ceep the defennder it has to savive on the old dico shasy thus 100 inces but i wood defoly have one if this went in to production go fun rover


  14. Casper says:

    Huge improvement from the side view, but does need the Alpine windows. What this does not address is the disaster of the front lights/grille. If Jag can incorporate classic style icons in thoroughly medern designs, then LR need the same level of skill in their design team. The ability to design for a market other than hairdressers would be a start.

  15. Holger Kalvelage says:

    Well done, that´s more like it and depending on the technology underneath could become a replacement. Could you show the 110 as well?

  16. Dato SS says:

    Well, better than what the JLR designers came up with! But…why can’t they just keep the existing model intact & just add air bags & euro compliant engine? A modern Defender is an oxymoron. Keep the agricultural, tractor like form & substance…

  17. Jason says:

    Now that looks like it carries more of the Defender DNA. Much more like it. I’d buy one if it looked more like that for sure.
    I know the Defender has to change and LR need to increase volumes but for me the DC100 didn’t carry enough of the visual heritige which is surely what will drive sales. Almost everyone recognises and loves the current model but dont buy generally bescause is not a practical car unless you really want/need one.
    Your rendering here is much more like I expected from LR.

  18. Oh hell NO!!

    It’s still a Freelander underneath. There’s just no way to turn a $10 ho into high-class escort, no matter how much make up and fancy dresses she tries on.

    In all seriousness, the Freelander sucks ass compared to a proper Defender. I wouldn’t knock it so hard if it were based on the LR4 platform.

  19. Antonio says:

    from the rear it’s perfect from the front the old grid it’s nice but from the old grid down don’t like but if it’s made the old it’s perfect :), THE NEW DEFENDER CHASSIS WILL IT STILL REMAIN LADDER CHASSIS ????????????

  20. Antonio says:

    but it’s more simple if they let the shape as the old just with a refinement from engine and comfort

    • jack says:

      Indeed! The Defender’s current design is perfect! Just change everything except the current body. Then all Defender owners & non-owners will definitely buy one! Land Rover shouldn’t have to consider ‘design’. If they do, then the G class is all alone

  21. Andrew says:

    I keep coming back to this design and like it a little more each time i look at it! I’m sure it will have lost some of the simplicity that makes the Defender what it currently is but that’s the price we pay in a world of emission regulations and ncap ratings! As for us at defender Bits, as a Defender only specialist, we’ll keep supplying parts and accessories for all Defenders and will include the new model as soon as it’s out there!
    I’m sure that the final design will have evolved even more before this car is released to the market!

  22. gregzilla says:

    Love it. Having been a disco 2 owner I really dislike where they are going with the current lr4/disco. I want utility…at a reasonable price point. The d2 could be that. Build it and I will buy. The dc100 looks too much like an evoque and not utilitarian enough.



  24. KBlanchard says:

    When will we please see some real shots of this ‘iconic’ vehicle as i am personally feed up and am waiting to buy one as I have said NO to the new Discovery GIRLY Sport, school run mum’s car.

  25. Gaz says:

    I like the look of this Defender 2!

  26. m says:

    Perfect. It’s the boxyness of the original that gives it the no nonsense, no frills, it doesn’t just mean business, it does the business demeanor. The moment it veers off into schmancy design for the sake of it, it loses it’s soul. Modern tough materials, and perhaps a smidgeon more eco friendly and comfortable but that’s it. We don’t want a hair dresser’s car !

  27. poyna says:

    where is a large wagon and van..if you go on long trips the truck needs to be current truck is the v8 wagon.

  28. TeriAnn says:

    Series/Defenders were meant to go into primitive places on primitive trails and to be easily modifiable to meet the owner’s needs. That is what makes the vehicle great. Any design needs to have, as a minimum, the same or better approach, breakover, and departure angles as the real Defender. The roof and sides need to be easily removable. The wheel wells should easily handle 35 inch dia tyres at full upward articulation. And all the computers should NEVER immobilize a vehicle if something it controls goes out of spec. There should ALWAYS be a limp home mode that keeps the vehicle mobile. Driver controls should directly operate steering, brakes, and the throttle. In real life it can easily make the difference between being stranded on a primitive trail or secondary road over 100 miles from help and out of cell phone coverage or making it out to a place where repairs can be made. First build a truck able to go into primitive locations, rugged enough to survive and make it back out then worry about esthetics. It would be useful if you could hose the floors out and not damage the interior.

    Maybe two different Defender2’s that have the same skin. A poser Defender2 with all the bells, whistles, wood grain panels and leather, and an outback Defender2 that can go anywhere the tyres can find bight and have the mud hosed out of the interior afterwords. Keep the 90, 110, and 127 wheelbases or something very similar and have versions of the longer wheelbase models that are sold with just the cab sitting on the frame so companies can add their own rear body.

    Portal axles would be a nice touch if they can keep the vehicle centre of gravity low.

    As far as the body goes you need flat areas at the front and back to attach a pioneer kit (shovel, pick), a high lift jack and traction boards. There needs to be an option on the bumper to put a strong brush/roo bar that can handle a large deer strike at highway speeds without damaging the vehicle. At the least, a vehicle should be able to drive away from a front end moose strike.

    The vehicle should be all about extreme functionality and survivability in harsh terrains.

    Form should follow function, not define function

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