Land Rover Defender

Mileage 96,013. The Priors don’t do packing light, as a fully loaded Land Rover proves

You should see the equipment list. It’s about three sides of A4, per child. Double it and you get to the amount of kit needed by two nippers, accompanied by two nags, to camp in a field for a week.

Carrying it all — enormous tent, brace of wheelbarrows, that sort of thing — is precisely the kind of job for which we bought a Land Rover Defender in the first place, and why we had the roof rack fitted. And the inconvenient truth is? It’s still not big enough — a legacy of the boot being in precisely the same location as the rear passenger compartment. A long-wheelbase Defender 110 would have done the job.

Some say I should have bought a 110. Some say I shouldn’t have bought a Defender at all. Since running our ‘hello’ feature about this car a few weeks ago, I’ve received more correspondence about it than any other long-termer I’ve run or written about.

I’ve replied to most, I think, and I’m grateful for all I’ve been sent, even if it only says: “Twelve grand? The dealer must have been laughing all the way to the bank.” (Perhaps. If you’re looking for sound financial advice, don’t look to me.) Or if it says: “I wouldn’t put loved ones in side-facing seats.”

That one stung a bit, I’ll admit. I’ve thought about this, because it’s a dilemma that applies not just to seats but to all things. Should you let loved ones be passengers in classic cars? Should you regularly get on a motorcycle if you have dependents? How risky are the hobbies you allow children to pursue? Where is the line between living life and risking limb?

I know someone who has fitted fourpoint harnesses to side-facing seats, which might be more secure than the lap belts ours are equipped with. I might look into it, but I have a feeling they’d have to be fitted — and, just as crucially, worn — in exacting fashion to be truly effective. It’s possible to worry too much, I think.

Anyway, for the most part, people like this car. When conversation turns to a Defender, people often remember good times in them, or family and friends who owned them. And it seems they’re infectious; I know two people who have bought Defenders since we it reignited their interest in them.

Meantime, the miles continue to rack up on our 90, to past 95,000. I still haven’t needed to put any oil in it, though it might want a tipple soon, while I’ve been given a couple of tips on what could improve the poor turning circle, and what might let me drop the towbar to its lowest setting (it’s currently obscured by bolt heads). More on which in a future report. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some unpacking to do.

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