Years of manufacture: 1948-2016 
Price when new: £1,730 
Price now: £1,500-£50,000
Engine: 1,997cc 4cyl petrol, 52bhp
Top speed: 50mph

Few cars inspire such passion as the Land Rover Series and Defender ranges. The best-known 4x4 in Britain lasted in production with relatively minor evolution from 1948 until 2016 – and when the final example rolled off the line, it made the national news.

The Land Rover was born after World War Two, when Rover needed to find a car it could make using the expertise (and materials) gleaned from its military contracts. It would have to use the minimum amount of rationed steel and be attractive to export markets; after all, bombed-out Britain needed to earn some foreign money to rebuild itself.

Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender review
Engineer Maurice Wilks suggested a vehicle that could be dual purpose on and off-road, modelled on the Army surplus Jeeps his family used. It would have the same mechanical layout as the Jeep, a Rover saloon engine and a flat-panelled alloy body to save on rationed steel.

The result, launched in 1948, was crude and compromised, but was peerless off-road and usable on the tarmac, making it a true dual-purpose workhorse. It was the first vehicle seen by many people in far-flung places, the staple transport of the British Army, kept farmers farming and helped emergency services save lives.

The Defender’s evolution was slow but steady, with it undergoing a few refinements over the years to keep it bearable in the face of imitators. Perhaps its greatest achievement was to be the foundation of the flourishing Land Rover brand.

Judge’s verdict: “The Land Rover really is one of a kind, a true icon of British auto history. A car that was in production for 67 years, virtually unchanged, deserves to be on the podium.”

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