Authenticity be damned – this is a nicely conceived tribute to its grandfather, but comes at quite a cost.
In just about every respect, the Land Rover Defender 75th Limited Edition could not be further removed in concept from the vehicle whose birthday it has been conceived to celebrate.
Arriving to mark the anniversary of the first Land Rover (which would later evolve into the Series I – and several decades later the Defender) being revealed, it builds on the top-link Defender HSE – leaving very few options boxes unticked and donning a commemorative shade of Grasmere Green, modelled on that worn by the first wave of 4x4s to chug out of Solihull.
For that paint, which noticeably also coats the 20-inch alloys for extra hits of both kerb appeal and kerb aversion, you’ll pay a premium of more than $35,000 over the equivalent 110 HSE. Oh, that does include a small 75th Edition decal on the boot lid and a colour-matched dash panel, but otherwise this is very much a case of, erm… green-washing.
That said, the top-spec variant of the mid-sized Defender still seems to be the sweet spot in the line-up. Of course, the unreasonable demands of today’s premium car buyers (being kept warm, dry and intact, for example) mean this was always going to be more of a spiritual than literal reinterpretation of its 1940s forebear, whose open sides, sparsely furnished cabin and, shall we say, lackadaisical approach to occupant safety would not a $156,157 car make.
Compared to, say, its Range Rover sibling, the Defender more closely apes the bare-bones ethos of the original Land Rover, in so far as it features a partly exposed dashboard and is decorated throughout with exposed screwheads (you’ll either think this is the best thing ever, or slightly naff), but make no mistake: this is a pure-bred luxury car, and nowhere better represented as such than by this top-speccer.
We’ve got 14-way electrically adjustable, heated and cooled front seats, a refrigerated centre console, a top-flight Meridian sound system and – this being fundamentally an HSE – the electronic air suspension that gives pricier Defender models the edge over entry cars in the refinement stakes. Such decadence is sacrilege, you might say, considering what this special edition is supposed to commemorate – but consider also that even despite its overt focus on on-road opulence, this remains one of the world’s most capable off-roaders.
Our test car was fitted with the rag-top roof, rather than the sliding panoramic option, which did make the black cabin feel a bit darker when closed, but was a nice toy to play with when the sun came out and, together with the decorative checker plates on the front wings, felt like a more tangible nod back to the dune-bashing Land Rovers of old.
The 75th Anniversary edition is also available in short-wheelbase 90 guise. But is it worth the premium, then? Those who bemoan what the very concept of the Defender has become should look elsewhere.
As a quick, comfortable and maybe even collectable family hauler, though, there’s no denying this special edition’s appeal – even if it is coated in the world’s most expensive paint.