To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Land Rover Series I, Lego is releasing a Classic Defender replica on 1st June. First revealed in 1948, Land Rover’s Series I has been an iconic make for decades. A go-to for several fields including military, agriculture and mining, the Series I was also used on private country estates, and even carted around the likes of Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill. Despite its long pedigree of being one of the most useful vehicles in British history, the creation of the Series I happened almost by accident.
Time for a short history lesson: before the Series I, Land Rover was known for being a British luxury car company whose comfortable, reliable cars were heavily favoured by doctors before the second World War. As Britain faced a drained economy after the war, Land Rover also struggled to survive: first, nobody had any money to buy new cars; second, raw materials, like steel, was still in very short supply. So short, in fact, that the British government could only supply Land Rover enough steel to manufacture 1,100 luxury cars per year as opposed to the company’s expected 15,000 to 20,000 units per year.
The company’s solution was to pivot temporarily from manufacturing luxury cars to creating an industrial model for use in agriculture and mining. To combat the steel shortage, the body was made from aluminium alloy while the steel was reserved for the chassis. In post-war Britain, even paint was rare. The distinctive green associated with the Series I model is fact, military surplus paint — we think its partly why the car was such a popular choice for the military.
After the prototype made its debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948, the rest is history. Land Rover was saved, and the utility vehicle, including its successors, would remain in production for the next sixty-eight years, serving farmers, mining companies, police and rescue services, and the military.
Lego is commemorating the 75th birthday of this special little vehicle with the Land Rover Series Classic Defender model (40650), a 150-piece build featuring details from the real-life model, such as headlights, a roof rack, the Land Rover badge and side-view mirrors. The model comes with a driver minifigure, dressed in a jaunty pineapple shirt and green eyeglasses, which fits behind the wheel. Unlike the larger Land Rover Classic Defender (10317) model, the anniversary edition is fun-sized and highly portable, measuring at 7cm high, 12cm long and 6cm wide.
The Land Rover Series Classic Defender is priced at USD 14.99, and is available in store in Hong Kong at Lego certified stores or online. Check out the gallery below for more images.