The vintage-only rules apparently don't apply to Land Rover at the Goodwood Revival. The firm brought its all-new Defender - the unquestioned star of Frankfurt - to the event's reenacted 'Earl's Court Motor Show'. It sits alongside Series 1 in the mock-up - and despite being more than half a century younger than most cars in the circuit's grounds this weekend, it's receiving a lot of positive attention. Granted, it's about as at home at the Revival as a pair of Nike Air Maxes, but the anecdotal response to its presence seems very welcoming.
Probably it's helped along by the fact that Land Rover is one of the weekend's iconic marques. There are Defender marshals cars lining the track, all dressed in period clothing and in some cases - like when they're called into action - offering as much entertainment as the racers themselves. There are Defender (or Series I/II) military vehicles, painted in camouflage colours and wearing Union Flags amongst the WW2 displays. And there are even more Defenders in the visitor car parks, with everything from ex-farm workhorses to city slickers making a rare appearance on grass.
Collectively, they serve to illustrate the enormous boots the new Defender has to fill at home, let along on the global stage. The initial response to its new appearance (on balance and unscientifically) seems to have generally been good - or at least better than we might have expected given the concerns expressed by PHers when those first spy pics landed. But of course it doesn't guarantee that this new, expensive and occasionally cutting-edge car is going to scale even the foothills of its predecessor's achievement.
With a starting price of £45,240, it's also hard to imagine many racing circuits investing in a fleet of Defenders for their staff, or many farmers happy to have one scraping along hedgerows on narrow country lanes with a horsebox in tow. Don't expect the military to be chopping in its fleet of half-a-century-old Defenders for the new one anytime soon either.
If the Defender's presence at Goodwood highlights anything though, it's just how different the new car is from its forebear. Obvious perhaps - and no criticism of its necessarily 21st century approach - but there's just no replacing Land Rover's most famous model in a way that would make it seem consistent with Revival. Fortunately, as Goodwood's best weekend amply proves, the old workhorse-grade Defender is far from finished.
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