A tribute to a legend.
Today, exactly 5 years ago, the last of the “original” Landrover Defenders rolled off the production line. The Defender was produced for over 67 years. There were many different versions with just over 2 000 000 models built during that time. In 2020, a new Landrover Defender was released and time will tell if it lives up to its esteemed predecessor – it certainly has big shoes to fill!
9 years ago, hubby came home with what I thought was the craziest idea he had had to date – and that is saying something! After all this is the man who planned a trip to Russia and Egypt when Teen 1 was only 2 months old! He suggested that we buy the new Landrover Defender. I was gobsmacked. I had him down as the GTI/BMW/Merc type at that point and although we loved the bush, had kind of expected a more “civilised” 4 by 4 suggestion to be honest!
I was also kind of dubious about driving one. I had a friend with an ancient white defender in varsity. He was a big burly bloke and I remember he had lots of fun with gear changes and turning circles. He was, however, in love with it and I really had no idea why! Maybe the built-in workout from driving it saved him time at the gym?
I saw the pics of her and I have to say she was really stunning looking. Definitely more aesthetically pleasing than the standard white versions!
Hubby is very persuasive and I’m used to his crazy schemes, especially when it comes to the Bush and his passion – birdwatching, so I conceded.
We were teased. We had friends and acquaintances with those boring and prolific white “bakkies” (pick-up trucks) that roam the South African roads intimidating all in their path. We had several of these people offer to come and rescue us when the Landy broke down – I am happy to report that to date, we have never had to take any of them up on their offers, although we have pulled other people out of the sand on occasion! The Landy is practically invincible.
And then she arrived.
It was love at first sight. She was the most beautiful vehicle I had ever laid eyes on. The driving part was a little tricky and I have to admit to a couple of panic attacks at the beginning! The most daunting parts were getting down our narrow driveway and of course making sure you have enough space to turn at tight intersections. Once I was over that hurdle and within a week, I had claimed her as my own. She may not be the most practical, but she is part of the family and has taken us places where no other car could!
Defender drivers are a special breed. It took a little getting used to being waved at and waving back to all other Defender drivers. I love it though. This custom transcends ethnicity, religious beliefs and political affiliations. You wave at all other Defender drivers, regardless – a lovely tradition that still makes me happy every time it happens.
I am not going to go into details of models and engines and timelines with the Landy. You are welcome to visit Wikipedia for that! For me, the Landy is more than just a sum of her parts. She represents a lifestyle. Freedom, happiness and exhilaration. The 93000 kilometres on her clock represent the happiest times of my life.
Our first trip with The Landy, was to the Kruger National Park and she behaved so well and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to do a long “African” journey with her.
It was crazy. Teen 1 was only 6 at the time, Teens 2 and 3 were 5 and Zaza had not yet reached her second birthday. Zaza is always at her happiest though, when she is in the Landy surrounded by her sisters and family – I honestly think she enjoyed the trip the most.
We have subsequently had many thousands of kilometres of bliss driving her through the African Bush. There have been some epic journeys, such as hubby’s boy’s trip to Moremi in Botswana!
Sadly, we didn’t have her up in the Serengeti, but the day will still come where we head out towards Malawi in her – it has always been a dream of ours.