Land Rover Defender Blog


The Land Rover Wave

Find out more about this unique tradition amongst Land Rover owners, how it all started and why it's still done today.

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

November 5, 2010

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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If you're a Landy driver, you'll most likely have encountered the 'Land Rover wave'. We were told that we couldn't buy our first Defender if we didn't promise to acknowledge fellow Land Rover drivers. In this post, let's look deeper into this heritage filled tradition.

Origins - How did it actually start?

One source we looked at told a charming story of two series drivers who were approaching each other, when on of them decided to wipe his screen. The other driver thought he was waving, so returned the wave and over the next few weeks, they mistook each Land Rover they saw for 'that' driver, thus spreading the practice around the country.

This is a nice tale, but most likely it's a throwback from vehicle owners waving when encountering a driver of the same make or model, such as MG Drivers (we've even heard of GMC vans, i.e. the A-Team van doing it).


From further research, it would also appear the practice has spread to the far-corners of the world, such as South Africa (a hoot or flash of the headlights), Australia, Belgium, Holland.... the list goes on. Whatever the true origins, (perhaps it was started by Land Rover marketing?) it's charming and puts a smile on your face. We believe the wave is a way of showing respect for owning (and maintaining) such a quality piece of engineering.

The Rules

Whatever you take from this article, general consensus is you're probably not going to get a wave back from most new Land Rover models such as Vogues, Sports, Freelander 2's e.t.c unless of course they happen to be a big Landy fan (it can happen). Conserve your waves for every other Land Rover. I think it's safe to say we should include Discovery's (up to, but not including Mark 4) and Range Rover Classics.

Be cautious of D3 drivers, weigh them up a little first. We Defender and Series drivers need to set the lead here, perhaps we can make the RR and Disco owners feel part of fold, after all these are proven vehicles and Solihull products through and through. If a vehicle is obviously prepped for off-road use, with all the equipment that goes along with it, then you have a high chance of a return wave.


If you see a council Land Rover (or Water / Electricity Board e.t.c) you're probably not going to get a wave. Also, farmers and vets generally own Land Rovers as mere ways of getting from A to B. Most of these drivers seem oblivious to the tradition and either don't see you, choose to ignore you or look completely confused as they rack their brains wondering if they know you. Don't exclude them though, because we know the National Grid driver of our 90 liked Land Rover's.

You may well be able to gauge if you're getting a wave back or not, if you see them looking and hesitating, go for it! If you own a series vehicle (I, II, IIA, III) then these should get a very enthusiastic, extra large wave. After all, these are the ancestors of the modern lines and people who run them are big Landy nuts. That's extra credit in our book.


Don't Wave:

  • Too early, or you may be missed
  • On the motorway (dangerous)
  • If a vehicle is behind you and it is unsafe to do so (in traffic, urban areas e.t.c)
  • At night (you'll probably be accidentally missed due to headlights anyway)
  • If doing so will mean jeopardizing control of the vehicle (in a corner for example)

Don't be upset if you weren't seen. The driver may not have been looking, have his mind on something else or be checking his speed, gears, engine temps (or oil levels) e.t.c. It happens, but a real Land Rover Owner will be truly gutted if they realize they missed a waving opportunity.

Types of Wave

The Cool Dude -A simple index finger lift from the steering wheel

The New Land Rover owner - Light flash combined with whole hand wave, even a double hand wave and any passengers will be waving too.

The Old Timer - All fingers of one hand raised from wheel

Moving Forward

New Land Rover models seem to carry a sort of stigma. Whether it be because these models cost more money, represent a new era of Land Rovers or their target markets are more yummy-mummy's than your typical Landy driver, we don't know - but let's avoid this reverse snobbism. If it's got a Green Oval, give it a wave. Disco 3s and Range Rovers are incredibly capable off road. So they deserve a wave too...

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  1. Matt says:

    Loving this article – well done!

    I always wave at other Defenders/Series and they usually return the wave.

    Also found most modified Disco and Rangie owners also wave back.

    Loving the blog, keep up the good work.

    • Ben Gribbin Ben Gribbin says:

      Absolutely, Modified owners usually wave which is good, as there are a lot around these days! I also believe a lot of these owners would stop if you were stuck in snow, broken down e.t.c

  2. Harley Stevinson says:

    Nice post.. I’m sure you get this a lot but this one’s truly golden. Waiting for the next one!

  3. Bob Bauld says:

    i’m on my 2nd defender… I’ve been playing this game with myself for years now. if i wave and the other driver waves back i get a point. my personal best is 22 consecutive waves without a break. I have to be careful so i make a judgement as to whether to wave or not depending on what defender is approaching. Yep you’re right… some farmers and employees that drive them don’t wave so i don’t attempt to wave… if i wave and the miserable bastard doesn’t wave back then i go back to zero!! Good eh? hours of amusement for me and me alone, unless my daughters are in with me and they love it when it works!!!

  4. Racheal says:

    I had a Range Rover Sport for 10 years (reg. 2005) never got a wave!!! I sold it and bought a 90 Hardtop (reg. 2015)…. needless to say I’m now having to learn how to drive again.
    I got delivery on Monday and was told about the “wave” i laughed it off. It is now Wednesday and I have had two fellow Landy waves. I opted for the “raise all fingers off the steering wheel” option. I must admit i didn’t acknowledge the first “waver” as i was still trying to master using gears and steering!!! but i think I’ve mastered it now… by the way everyone thinks I’m crazy for selling a sport and getting a defender, but I don’t care I’ve wanted one for 4 years

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