the Land Rover The Defender is one of the most iconic vehicles on the planet. I’d compare the pre-2020 Defender to the Porsche 911, Jeep Wrangler, and Dodge Challenger as one of the most recognizable shapes of all time, car or otherwise. The only difference is that Land Rover did away with its iconic Defender, replacing it with a Bronco-shaped SUV that just goes by the Defender name. But devoted Defender fans in an old London pub came up with an idea to keep the British icon alive. And it could work.
The Land Rover Defender is dead
RELATED: Chrysler’s Aspen SUV Was A Hybrid Ahead Of Its Time, And It Fizzled
Yes, Land Rover still makes a Advocate. It would be foolish not to offer an SUV with its most recognizable nameplate. But while there’s a clear lineage from the 1948 Land Rover Series I to the 2019 Defender, the 2020 redesign is nothing like its predecessors.
The new Defender is a unibody vehicle, technically a crossover. In Land Rover’s attempt to push the family nameplate into the market, it added a range of resplendent luxury features. While Land Rover’s early series were straight-forward 4x4s, the 2023 Defender starts at $53,500.
Imagine for a moment that Stellantis announced a complete redesign of the Jeep Wrangler. He then attached a Wrangler badge to a unibody Jeep Recon. Fans of America’s favorite 4×4, which can trace its lineage back to World War II, would be furious. This gives you an idea of how many Land Rover fans feel about the new Defender.
It’s no wonder that a group of Defender fans in a London pub hatched a plan to resurrect their beloved SUV. You will be surprised that the new 4×4 is already in production
Long live the Land Rover Defender
RELATED: Here’s Why A Winch Is The First 4×4 Accessory You Should Buy
Like many Land Rover fans, Jim Ratcliffe complained to friends at London’s Grenadier club about the new Defender’s design. But Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe is no old Defender pilot. He also happens to be an engineer and the billionaire CEO of Ineos Chemicals.
So while Ratcliffe’s bar talks about the 2020 Defender might have started out as all-London pub talk, it ended in a very different way. Ratcliffe resolved to approach Jaguar Land Rover to buy the tooling for the 2019 Defender, to build and sell the follow-on SUVs. He came up with a plan, approached the company, and made his presentation. But there are no dice.
So Ratcliffe started looking at his old Defender, wondering if he could design something better. He decided to retain the Defender’s steel ladder chassis, beam axles, and coil springs at all four corners. He also kept his full-time 4WD with a two-speed transfer case. But in the interest of modernizing the SUV, he sourced 3.0-liter I6 engines (which offer both gasoline and diesel) from BMW.
Ratcliffe hired Austrian manufacturer Magna Steyr, builder of the G Wagen, to help design the rest of the vehicle. He studied the heavy-duty African version of Toyota Land Cruisers, Mercedes Unimogs and Jeeps. He ended up adding a cargo roof and a few other features to the Defender’s design. Ultimately, he bought an entire factory, located in Hambach France, from Mercedes-Benz.
Land Rover wouldn’t let Ratcliffe call its new SUV Defender, so it needed a new name. He returned to the pub where it all began to host a promotional meeting and decided to name his 4×4 after the pub itself: the 300-year-old Grenadier in Belgravia, London. Therefore, the Ineos Grenadier was born.
The Ineos Grenadier is in production
RELATED: See a Volkswagen Iltis and other Radwood classics recreating past Paris-Dakar rallies
There are countless automotive startups. Especially in the age of electrification, many turn out to be vaporware. But the Ineos Grenadier actually seems to be happening. Ineos entered production in July 2022. Ratcliffe has committed to completing more than one million miles of off-road testing and is currently testing the first production SUVs around the world. See the Grenadier tested in the following video:
Do you want your own Ineos Grenadier? Ratcliffe is aiming to make its first deliveries to UK customers in December 2022. If you live in North America, have no fear. Ineos has already opened a branch in Raleigh, North Carolina. With any luck, Defender-like SUVs will soon import.
Check out more Jeep Wrangler 4×4 alternatives below or check out the Ineos Grenadier reviewed in the video below:
RELATED: Nobody Is Buying Full-Frame SUV