Land Rover Series I – history at L663 Defender launch

Land Rover Series I – history at L663 Defender launch

Tucked away in a corner at the Malaysian launch event of the new 2022 Land Rover Defender yesterday was a piece of history, offering a glimpse into the brand’s heritage and providing a neat visual counterpoint to the new SUV. The vehicle in question? The spiritual ancestor of the L663, a Land Rover, from a time when it wasn’t yet known as the Defender.

The example is a Series I model, which was first produced in 1948. Based on exterior visual cues, it should be a 80 Mark II from the early ’50s, as denoted by the original Selangor plates it still wears from the period, when the FMS plates moved to its B identifier from 1948.

When it first debuted, the off-roader was equipped with a 1.6 litre petrol engine and a four-speed manual transmission – a 2.0 litre mill was introduced in the early ’50s. The Series II – with the waistline most are familiar with today – came about in 1958, and the Series III continued the Land Rover Series’ journey from 1971 until 1985.

Land Rover Series I – history at L663 Defender launch

By this time, the vehicle had already evolved into the original Defender, which arrived in 1983 as the 110, later joined by the 90, suffixes that continue with the new car. In 2013, it was announced that time would be called on the Defender, and 68 years after the first Land Rover Series came about, the last prev-gen Defender rolled off the production line in Solihull in February 2016, with over two million examples of both types built.

The display area at the event also showcased the car’s history through a series of framed visual pieces, with local perspective inserted in for good measure, like the Series I that played a significant part during the declaration of independence of Malaya in 1957.

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Anthony Lim

Anthony Lim believes that nothing is better than a good smoke and a car with character, with good handling aspects being top of the prize heap. Having spent more than a decade and a half with an English tabloid daily never being able to grasp the meaning of brevity or being succinct, he wags his tail furiously at the idea of waffling - in greater detail - about cars and all their intrinsic peculiarities here.



  • mirage on Oct 22, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    How kind of them to remind the enthusiasts how they have really lost the plot.

    The new Ford Bronco with plenty of offroad touches is what the new Defender should be, not this monocoque street biased rm700k of a beast.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  • Dennis on Oct 23, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Defender was true to its name. Tough, rough, easy handling, Power, we gonna miss all these.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • paanjang16 on Oct 24, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    The old one looks like a vintage workhorse that you can be assured can get through the toughest terrain and is not afraid to get itself dirty. Also much much easier to repair as it is mechanically simpler.

    The new one while highly capable I would be hesitant to let it enter the same rough terrain its vintage sibling would scoff at. Fear that water will mess up the electronics in the new one. Also the new one costs so much!! Tauke with money to burn maybe can buy.

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