After months of teasers, weeks of leaks and one of the most eagerly anticipated car launches in recent history, the dust has finally settled on the reveal of Land Rover’s all-new Defender. The firm must be happy with the reaction to its DC100-inspired 4x4 as it appears to have largely been positive, which is about as much anyone could have hoped for a successor to a car as iconic as this. But as PH noted at the recent Goodwood Revival, instead of treading on toes, the new Defender looks set to take a very different path to its forebear – and it’s obviously no accident.
When the Series 1 was launched in 1948, the world was a different place. The first Land Rover came in the aftermath of a World War so its simplicity, versatility and toughness were designed to help rebuild Britain – primarily by helping to feed the population as a workhorse on the farms. Today’s Defender very clearly has a different intention in mind. Its infotainment systems alone prevent us from calling it simple and we’re not expecting to see many getting sill-deep in the manure-strewn fields of the Yorkshire Dales, put it that way.
With the old Defender’s status set to remain unchallenged, then, it’s not surprising to see prices remain strong on the used market. Fair enough they’ve stabilised since the heady heights of 2015, when it seemed every man and his dog wanted to secure one of the last Defenders to roll off the line. But cars with history, a real story? They’ve retained plenty of desirability. Take today’s Spotted, for example, an ex-Ministry of Defence Land Rover, which proudly wears paraphernalia that illustrates the life it lived prior to being restored – and confirms that it is in fact a Wolf, not a Defender.
The Wolf, the militarised version of Land Rover’s Defender 90, needs no introduction. It’s as iconic as military vehicles this side of the Spitfire come, so no wonder the seller of this just-retired service 4x4 has decided to keep all that original charm. It comes in a fresh lick of NATO green with a matching set of steels, a genuine Wolf soft top and side-body spare wheel. It also keeps original army tools, including a bonnet-mounted spade, wing-located pickaxe and tow strap, as well as a jerry can and benches in the back. Underneath is the Wolf’s strengthened chassis and stronger rear axle, added to enable a greater carrying capacity out on the tough terrain of conflict zones. To improve its on-road performance, there’s a higher ratio transfer box mated to the 2.5 TDI’s drivetrain.
It’s covered 60,000 miles in service, but the seller says (well, shouts, as the ad’s all in capitals) that the restoration has been thorough. Certainly, the images suggest we’re looking at a like-new Wolf; further evidence comes from the freshness of the leather seats and dash plastics. It’s a far cry from the premium, comparably high-tech world of the new Defender, but that’s exactly what makes it so desirable. It also helps to explain how only about £13k will separate this 1998 car from the anticipated price of the upcoming entry level new Defender. But for a car that’s undoubtedly seen a lot in its 21 years of life, you’re paying for much more than the engineering alone. You’re buying into the story of an icon – one that looks set to go on for many, many more years to come.
SPECIFICATION - LAND ROVER WOLF
Engine: 2,495cc, four-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 5-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 111@3,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 188@1,800rpm
First registered: 1998
Recorded mileage: 60,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £27,995