Land Rover Defender History - Background and Evolution of Land Rover Defender

Looking to get a Land Rover Defender history lesson? You've come to the right place.

Vehicle info & features
8. Nov 2022
Land Rover Defender History - Background and Evolution of Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender is one of the most iconic SUVs ever. Alongside the Range Rover, it is responsible for putting the Land Rover brand on the map. This is a vehicle that defined the spirit of trailblazing and overlanding in Europe back in the day. It also had something for every type of consumer out there. With that in mind, let’s look back at some Land Rover Defender history

LandRover Defender history

The Defender made it to dealerships all the way back in 1983. It was known as the Land Rover or the Land Rover Defender original. This bad boy came with quite a pedigree as it traced its lineage back to the Land Rover Series I. This was a vehicle from the WWII era and it is regarded as one of the first SUVs in the world. 

Evolution of Land Rover Defender

Unlike its predecessors though, this was a vehicle that attempted to change the opinions of the consumers – it showed them that Land Rovers were more than just rugged boxes on wheels. This is because it came with more amenities and features that attracted families and casual offroaders. As time went on, it brought with it a sense of luxury. 

We saw upgrades to make its ride feel more upscale than before. For example, the biggest change to it in this regard was the upgrade from its leaf-spring suspension design to spring coils. We saw the Defender being available with roll-up windows, comfier seating, and higher-end interior trim pieces. They improved the engine options as well.

Land Rover Defender model history

Over the years, we’ve been used to looking at the boxy Land Rover defender that we all know about and love. However, there are many differences between these vehicles. There are millions of these vehicles on the road but their interiors and amenities are quite different when you get to observe them. 


The Land Rover was released in three versions: the 90, the 110, and the 130. These numbers denoted the wheelbase sizes of these, with the 90 being the smallest at around 90mm; the 130 (or the 127 as it was previously known), was about 130mm long. These vehicles were available in 3- and 5-door versions, plus a pickup version. 


Then came 1990, and the Land Rover was officially rebranded as the Land Rover Defender. This model series, and hence the boxy shape that we all know and love, lasted all the way up to 2016. After this, the Defender was retired for an approximate period of 4 years. It was brought back in 2020, as the Land Rover Defender (L663) – a completely modernized version of it. 


This new model is a whole different animal. It is one of the most sophisticated SUVs today; a little bit lower on the plushness hierarchy as compared to the Range Rover. The model names are similar; the Defender 90 is a compact SUV, the Defender 110 is a mid-size SUV, and the Defender 130 is a full-size SUV. You can get this new model in 3- and 5-door options. 

The engine options tend to provide an awesome mix of fuel efficiency and power. You are offered 4-, 6-, and 8-cylinder engines, that give you the right amount of oomph for off-tarmac driving. Combine this with a solid 4WD system and a set of driver-assistance systems, and you’ve got quite the overlander on your hands. But it’ll cost you a lot more than the old models. 

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