Land Rover Send-Off Auction Draws Near
Ahead of its auction December 16, original Land Rover project engineer Arthur Goddard has given the 2 millionth edition his personal seal of approval.
Ahead of its auction on December 16, original Land Rover project engineer Arthur Goddard, has given the special 2 millionth edition of the iconic Defender his personal seal of approval. This sale by auction house Bonham’s comes in advance of the Defender line’s upcoming retirement in February. Since this is very momentous, it is expected that the Defender will sell for a record price, especially since all proceeds from the sale will be going to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (IFRC) and Born Free foundation.
Goddard, now 94 and based in Australia, flew back to the UK and to the Solihul, Birmingham factory where he led the development of the off-roader and where all subsequent Land Rovers are still to this day constructed.
“We all thought we were doing something special here. It was all about function over form as we had the farmer and the agricultural community in mind,” said Goddard. Happily, the potential of the Defender was recognized almost immediately by the public.
One of the team involved in the vehicle’s launch as well as its production, Goddard was tasked with driving the first Land Rover to its public debut at the Amsterdam motor show in 1948 and remembers that the Belgian army saw the car’s potential right away and wanted to buy up the entire first year’s production.
“I thought to myself, we’ve got an oil well here! With the power take-off at the rear there had never been a vehicle like it in existence so it drew a lot of interest from people who needed a vehicle that wasn’t just a new form of tractor, but could simply and easily take you wherever you needed to travel,” he remembers.
The car soon exceeded all expectations as a load lugger and vehicle capable of handling even the toughest and most challenging terrain. However, even Goddard was taken aback when the car became a fashion icon. “We were surprised when people started using it to take the children to school and do the weekly shop!”
Yet, even after 67 years in production and 2 million examples built, many elements of the Land Rover, from pieces to processes, are still identical to those found on the original that debuted in Amsterdam.
Robots and machines help to take some of the strain – holding doors and panels in place for workers to fit – and paint finishes other than those shades of green that were surplus to the war effort are now available. Nevertheless, the Defender features more hand-built and hand-fitted components than any other mass-produced car currently on sale. That means that no two are exactly the same. It’s also the only car on sale that needs three keys – one for the ignition, one for the doors, and one for the fuel cap.
Yet despite its many idiosyncrasies, Land Rover 2 Million, a special model constructed with the help of 33 brand ambassadors and which is finished in a unique two-tone silver paint and boasts a full leather interior, could sell for supercar money, when it falls under the hammer at Bonhams in London on December 16. The public can view the auction model at the Bonhams showroom in London today and tomorrow, ahead of the sale proper. For the sake of motoring history, we hope this Defender will remain available for public viewing, with the help of a generous patron.