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
The Land Rover Defender was the successor to the Series III, it was originally called the Ninety or the One Ten (a reference to the wheelbase length in inches). As the Land Rover model range grew it was decided to rename the line to Defender 90 and Defender 110 to avoid any confusion.
To say the Defender had large shoes to fill would be a remarkable understatement. The Series I, Series II, Series IIA, and Series III Land Rovers took the world by storm and were very often the first motorised vehicle ever seen by people in developing nations.
The new Defender maintained the same basic structure as the Series vehicles, with a body-on-chassis design utilising a steel frame, a steel bulkhead, and aluminium body panels. Under the skin the Defender had been significantly updated with wider track axles, coil springs as opposed to leaf springs, a full-time 4×4 system borrowed from the Range Rover, and a lockable centre diff.
The interior had seen significant (and some would say overdue) upgrades over the Series Land Rovers, much improving the seats, sound-proofing, dashboard and instruments, and even offering amenities like air-conditioning and stereos.
Over the 3 decades of its production the Defender would get progressively more comfortable without sacrificing any of its raw off-road ability, and examples from the final few years of production are now highly sought after. Land Rover stopped making the Defender in early 2016 – largely due to increasingly stringent crash safety laws that the model couldn’t meet with its older-style body-on-frame structure.
Land Rover have announced more recently an intention to introduce a new Defender, likely with a unibody design and significantly updated styling. It’s widely hoped that Land Rover will stay true to the DNA of the model when they officially unveil the new Defender in 2019 – but only time will tell.
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.