The original Land Rover was a countryside workhorse that was built to last and has become a classless conveyance.
By Jasper Gerard Published: 7:00AM BST 30 Mar 2010
If you want to make the right entrance when turning up for a glass of organic nettle juice at the Marchioness of Worcester's or Jonathon Porritt's, a fume-belching Land Rover is unlikely to make the happiest of impressions.
Isn't it a Chelsea tractor, or at least a Cheltenham one? And one of the worst polluters still choking our lanes? What environmental campaigner could possibly abide such a thirsty monster?
But actually, a Landy is way "greener" than the ecologist's conveyance, a 2CV - and not merely because in early form it was any colour you liked as long as it was green, owing to all the army surplus paint knocking around the Rover factory.
No, a Land Rover is green because it's indestructible. The carbon footprint of cars is principally the energy sunk into their manufacture, not their subsequent movement. And once you make a Landy, it stays made.
Not long ago Land Rover claimed 75 per cent of the vehicles it had ever sold were still on the road; and, staggeringly, it has been rolling them out since 1948. No wonder Landy drivers call mere cars "disposables". So here's my tip for conserving the planet - save an old Land Rover.
Instinctively, even eco sorts who recycle their own sewage and live in yurts seem to get this. Certainly my Landy is always met by waves and cheery honks. And while it is unmistakably country, it is also classless; turning up at the village pub in a Landy, you could be the squire or the gamekeeper employed to keep down the number of townies.
Once, as Shaw asserted, it was impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without some other Englishman despising him; now an Englishman is despised when he opens his garage door: is his car too expensive, or too cheap? A Land Rover, by contrast, is a set of wheels no true Englishman could regard with anything very short of love.
For why else are they still made more than half a century after the first Jeep-derived truck? I'm struggling to think of another vehicle that has remained in continuous production and is still recognisably the same beast, right down to those silly sticking-out rear lights.
The modern Mini and Fiat 500 are cute future classics, but both are pastiches of dead models. Only a Land Rover acquires classic status the moment it splutters off the production line.
Under the skin the Landy has changed, of course. The latest engine is almost smooth. Modern versions offer CD players, even electric bum warmers. Yet despite these facelifts its fun-filled, adventurous spirit remains.
Once you have a Landy you'll never believe you did without such a willing workhorse. Best of all, you'll find repairs incredibly simple. This is one classic that will never die on you, because it will see you out. Anyway, hope all this helps round at the Worcesters...
Production: 1948 to date
Dress: tweeds or jeans, who cares?
On the stereo: I've Got A Brand New Combine Harvester, The Wurzels