Rowan Atkinson is well-known as an actor, comedian, and screenwriter, but he’s also an avid driver, car collector, and motorsport fan. He famously drove his multi-million dollar McLaren F1 with much gusto, covering over 41,000 miles and twice crashing it – but ensuring it was fastidiously restored both times.
Though he’s most closely associated with the Mr Bean character, he rose to fame in the hit British TV series Black Adder and in 1992 he toured his show Rowan Atkinson Live – still considered by many to be one of the finest comedy stage shows of the era.
This Heritage Edition Land Rover Defender was ordered from the factory by Atkinson in 2015 for personal use, he’s the only owner since new and he covered 2,260 miles in two years – meaning it’s still almost new.
A Brief History of the Land Rover Defender
Rover created the Land Rover Defender in two stages: back in the 1970’s they first fitted a de-tuned 3.5 litre alloy V8 engine as used in the upmarket Range Rover in a Series III Land Rover. This model was called the Stage I V8 and it featured the Range Rover constant four wheel drive transmission system also. The Stage I V8 was a success and proved the concept for Rover to go ahead and re-design the Land Rover and much improve it.
Rover’s engineering team decided to keep to the basic design of the original Land Rover as much as possible so the vehicle has a chassis that is little different to that of the Series Land Rovers that preceded it. Similarly the body remained constructed of “Birmabright” aluminium alloy body panels mounted on a steel frame with a steel bulkhead. The changes to the body were quite subtle, notably including a higher one-piece windscreen.
Underneath the body the changes were significant however. Wider axles were used giving the car a wider track for improved stability. The suspension was a completely new design using coil springs so vehicle handling both on and off-road were much improved. Brakes were upgraded whilst the wider track required the use of wheel arch extensions, giving the Land Rover an appearance quite like that of a rally car.
The new model Land Rover made its debut in the long wheelbase version in 1983. It was called the Land Rover One Ten (for its 110″ wheelbase) as the name “Defender” had not been coined yet. The following year its short wheelbase sibling the Land Rover Ninety joined it on the showroom floors.
It was not until after Land Rover had created their Discovery model that they decided to name the traditional Land Rover the Defender, this was done in 1989.
The Land Rover Defender remained in production up until 2016 when Land Rover finally phased it out. It was made in a variety of versions at different levels of luxury, or lack thereof. For many people living in remote areas of the world a Land Rover has frequently been the first motorised vehicle they ever see. The Defender retains the original Land Rover’s ability to “go where no car has gone before” and it is hard to imagine a place where a Land Rover has not been.
Rowan Atkinson’s Land Rover Defender
Atkinson will be selling his Defender at the Silverstone Classic Sale on the 29th till the 30th of July with Silverstone Auctions – the estimated hammer price is between £38,000 and £45,000, which would actually be a fair price for a low-mileage limited edition Defender like this even without the celebrity first owner.
The Heritage Edition Defenders were among the final Defenders to roll off the production line. Just 400 were made and they all featured the iconic Grasmere Green metallic paintwork, Alaska White roof, heritage style grille, headlamp surrounds, silver front bumpers, heavy-duty steel wheels, and HUE 166 graphics in tribute to the first ever pre-production Series I Land Rover from 1947.
If you’d like to read more about this Land Rover or register to bid, you can click here to visit the listing.