Citing data released just last week by the World Transportation Factbook (WTF), the number of Land Rover vehicles currently in use--notably Range Rover, LR3, and LR2--now favors the vehicles' latter-day role as a first-world suburban status symbol. Despite overwhelming data that indicates a high cost of ownership, steep repair bills, and costly parts, most owners have few reservations about owning them. Once claimed to be "The first vehicle ever seen by one-third of the world's population," most modern Land Rovers have taken a position as "The vehicle most often seen by one-third of the world's mechanics."
|Land Rover: Terrace-Rated™|
An Anglican missionary serving in Tanzania, Nevill Chesterfield, is among the traditional users of Land Rovers. "[I've] Never owned a better vehicle in my life," he says loudly of his 1981 Defender 90. "Holds 80 litres of diesel, 15 gallons of water, 3,000 Bibles and rarely struggles through the muddy ruts." Mr. Chesterfield was unable to respond to any further questions, having been rendered temporarily deaf by his 10-minute drive to the nearest village to speak with us.
Marquis Dassad, the Anglo-Yemeni striker for London's Chelsea Football Club, owns a 2010 Range Rover. "Got me some double-deuces [22" wheels], black tint, ten thousand watts of Alpine [stereo system]. I come round, da whole block know I'm all up on it." Mr. Dassad drove his vehicle just 1,200 miles in 2010, never leaving the tarmac of central London. "F*ck da congestion charge, knowutmean?" he continued, gesturing vaguely toward his crotch.
An interesting sub-segment exists, however: American Defender owners. Characterized by their Ray Ban sunglasses, Keen branded shoes, and corduroy pants, these buyers--mostly white males between 36 and 50 years old--both defy and support the new stereotype. On one hand, their yuppie nature means they don't balk at paying $50,000 for a 10-year-old, slightly rusty SUV with solid axles and very little on-road capability. On the other hand, they also attempt to project a rugged simplicity in line with the vehicle itself, despite their spending $5,000 per year on upkeep (for both the vehicle and themselves). Such vehicles are often taken onto dirt trails, but primarily serve as an aimless diversion rather than utilitarian need.
In related news, Werner Herzog is preparing to release his Land Rover documentary, "The Todds Must Be Crazy," the story of suburban Californians Preston Reed and Michael Todd, whose mutual envy of each others' Land Rovers drives both men and their families to the brink of bankruptcy.