Land Rover has given the world just what it has been pining for, a fully-factory restored and re-engineered Defender with a 405PS 5-litre Jaguar V8 underneath its bonnet. 0-100km/h is done in just over 5.6sec and top speed is a stunning 170km/h (not bad for a barn) making it the fastest Defender ever. You can now reach the furthest ends of the world a whole lot quicker, or the neighbourhood supermarket, whichever strikes your fancy.
With just 150 examples put together by Land Rover Classic, the Defender Works V8 is meant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Land Rover name, and it isn’t any run-of-the-mill hotrod job. It has an 8-speed ZF automatic crammed beneath, uprated brakes, revised springs and dampers, bi-LED headlights, machined aluminium door handles and bonnet lettering, and even leather-trimmed Recaro sports seats. A thorough engineering job it is then, which is reflected in its starting price tag of £150,000 in the UK. That’s McLaren 570S money in case you are asking.
The Defender Works V8 joins the herd of over-endowed Mercedes Geländewagen that are busily populating the neatly paved streets of Dubai and London. Honest workhorses turned into gaudy playthings and status symbols of the rich. Like the late-1990s rappers who are its likely owners. “Buy what you know” am I right?
Now I’m fully aware that not too long ago I defended the existence of the Lamborghini Urus, but this is different. Defenders, and the venerable Geländewagen, started off as rudimentary machines built to tough out the rough and provide a means of transportation for people where no roads exist. And no matter how much leather, plush headliner, or engine you throw at it, nothing is going to change its purposeful nature. Both these off-roaders, even in their big engine, fully gussied up form, aren’t very comfortable on smooth roads, feel rugged on the inside, and have some compromises when it comes to day-to-day driving, something Doug DeMuro found out in his G-Wagen review.
But these cars aren’t for those looking for leasing rates or wondering if they can pull together a downpayment.
These cars are targeted solely at those of obscene wealth. These cars are a rolling gold mine because it is just the right sort of toy to get the attention of those rich enough to drop the amount of money for the latest McLaren for what essentially is a steroid-addled farmyard machinery designed after the war with barely enough space for fuel to keep a V8 properly fed for more than the distance of one’s front driveway.
That thought process behind cars for the affluent was outlined best by the magnificent motoring culture scribe behind Regular Car Reviews, as he summarised it thusly that men desire experiences that are exclusive to them. The more exclusive it is to a wider of an audience the better. A view that was concurred on by an extremely wealthy car collector who explained that at his level, collecting cars was a contest of ego.
Now, this is a man who has so much money he bought a warehouse and turned it into a museum so he could have a place to park his cars. He could buy practically any car he wants on the market, but even he admitted that buying for his love of cars wasn’t as important as buying something that his equally rich friends couldn’t have. It was all down to a question of whether he could have that one hot and exclusive car first before his friends could, and bask in the glory of one-upmanship.
And this explains why ultra-exclusive limited-edition cars, such as Lamborghini’s reskinned Aventador celebratory model, the Centenario, or any one of Ferrari’s limited-edition models for that matter, are hungrily snapped up long before us plebs have had a chance to hear or see it. It also goes to explain the recent boom in the classic car market. Rare classic cars are as unique, and unobtainable as cars can get.
In this world, far away from the cares and dreams of ordinary wage-dependent folk, the normal criteria and expectations of cars don’t apply. Sure for the same money, the sensible choice would be to spec a Range Rover with all the bells, whistles, chimes, and pipes. But it all falls apart when someone else can do the same, which, to these buyers, would be a travesty not worth their dime.