Jessie is a Land Rover Defender 90. A purebred, purpose built machine that has extraordinary capabilities and pages of history infused into its DNA.
She is the direct descendant of the original Series 1 Land Rover, an aluminum clad 4×4 built to conquer English farmland in war- ravaged Britain. Land Rover has come a long way since the late ’40s and its top sellers today, the Range Rover and the Discovery, are more comfortable at a country club than an English farm.
The Defender does not share these same traits. If the Range Rover is your rich uncle, the Defender is your rude, odd, war-torn great uncle that no one talks about but everyone secretly admires.
Indeed, once you get past the lunch box styling, the ever-present mechanical gremlins, and the total disregard for occupant comfort, there is much to be admired in the Defender.
Since 1948, these 4x4s have plowed fields, served in covert military missions, carried humanitarian aid to remote destinations, and explored the farthest corners of our world. Commandos dropped them out of airplanes, the British crown and the Pope himself used them for protection, and frontiersmen the world over cooked meals on the trucks’ front grill. It has been estimated that this lineage of Land Rovers were the first automobiles seen by a third of the world’s population.
This history lesson is vital to understanding and appreciating Jessie. This is what she is: an uncompromising, unapologetic thoroughbred. She is designed and outfitted for overland travel. She is engineered to perform in the harshest conditions.
Now I don’t know David’s reasoning behind settling on a Defender, but I am not surprised that a Defender is the vehicle he has come to depend on. Many explorers, nomads, and travelers put their trust into that aluminum box on wheels and, if history is to repeat itself, many more will.