So Land Rover has been in the truck-making game for 70 years now. That’s an impressive string, especially when you consider what the British automotive industry went through in the late-70s, early-80s. But here we are, and as you would expect, Land Rover decided to celebrate.
And how did they celebrate this milestone? By making a giant Defender in the snow of the French Alps, of course. No, it doesn’t make much sense to me either, but it’s still kind of cool. The giant Land Rover snow art was made in anticipation of World Land Rover Day, April 30th, which will be exactly 70 years since the original Landy was first shown at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.
In La Plagne, France, which is southwest from Chamonix, snow artist Simon Beck, who somehow has a job creating geometric art on foot, confronted sub-zero temperatures to produce the outline of a Defender 820 feet across, 9,000 feet up in the French Alps. Yeah, the idea is kind of nutty, and the details make it even more so. To create the high-altitude Defender, Beck walked for 20,894 steps through the French Alps. That adds up to a total of 10.2 miles.
“Making my snow art requires endurance, accuracy, and strength – all attributes shared with the Defender. Its iconic shape is so simple and recognized across the world; this must be the most recognizable piece of art I’ve ever made,” related Simon (although that sounds like he was reading something a marketing weasel handed him).
And I get what they were going for here, but if it was me in place of Simon Beck, I would have made them trace it out on a sandy beach in Hawaii or some place warm like that.
Of course, the thing about doing this in the first place is that it ties back to how Land Rover got its start. You’ve heard the phrase, “I sketched it out on the back of a napkin?” That’s pretty close to how Land Rover got going. It all started when Rover’s Engineering Director, Maurice Wilks, first sketched the shape for the original Land Rover in the sand of Red Wharf Bay, England. See guys: Sand. Hawaii would have been much better.
Anyway, Maurice proposed the idea to his brother, Spencer, who just happened to be Landy’s Managing Director. Spencer liked it, christened it the “Land Rover,” which over time turned into the modern day Defender.
If you’re a fan of the go-anywhere Brit, there’s no need to hike up into the Alps to join the celebrations. Land Rover is inviting fans to join the World Land Rover Day fun via an online broadcast from the UK at 3:00 pm EDT on April 30th. Programming will feature the significant people who created “the world’s most-loved 4x4s.” That, of course, made me cough the word “JEEP!” very loudly, but okay, people still like Land Rover. Let’s not gild the lily too much, shall we chaps?
Anyway, that online broadcast will also take an in-depth look at the band’s most innovative technologies, from the original Series Land Rover and Defender origins, up to the introduction of the Range Rover in 1970 and the Discovery in 1989.
The U.S. market will get in on the fun by celebrating World Land Rover Day at its new 12-acre headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey. There will be a gathering of people and products of historical significance for the Land Rover brand. Members of the winning 1993 American Camel Trophy U.S. team will be reunited with the vehicles that competed in that year’s rally in Malaysia.
In addition, a North American Spec Range Rover Classic from the first year Range Rover was sold in America will be on hand, along with several examples of the North American version of the Defender sold here from 1992 to 1997.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.
70 Years of Land Rover Timeline
1948 Land Rover Series I launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show.
1953 Long Wheelbase version of the Series I is introduced.
1956 Oxford and Cambridge teams complete on London to Singapore expedition in Series I.
1958 Land Rover Series II unveiled with more refined design.
1970 Original two-door Range Rover (the Classic) goes on sale.
1971 Land Rover Series III launched.
1972 Range Rover crosses Darien Gap on 18,000-mile Trans-America expedition.
1976 1,000,000th Land Rover built.
1979 A Range Rover wins the inaugural Paris-Dakar rally (and again in 1981).
1981 Land Rover begins legendary partnership with Camel Trophy.
1981 Four-door Range Rover released.
1989 Land Rover Discovery, the third Land Rover model, goes on sale.
1990 Original ‘Landie’ relaunched and renamed Defender.
1994 Second generation Range Rover launched.
1997 All-new Freelander is unveiled with innovative new technology: Hill Descent Control.
2001 Third-generation Range Rover with all-round independent air suspension revealed.
2003 Inaugural G4 challenge sees 16 teams traverse USA, South Africa and Australia.
2004 Range Stormer Concept previews performance Range Rover and three-door body.
2004 Discovery 3/LR3, the third-generation Discovery, launched at New York Motor Show.
2005 All-new Range Rover Sport unveiled.
2006 Freelander 2/LR2 launched. The first Land Rover to be manufactured at Halewood.
2007 LRX concept car previews design language of a new luxury compact SUV.
2009 Fourth generation of the Land Rover Discovery introduced.
2010 Range Rover Evoque, the world’s first luxury compact SUV, makes global debut.
2012 Fourth-generation Range Rover introduced – the first all-aluminum SUV.
2013 New generation of Range Rover Sport unveiled at New York Motor Show.
2014 Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division is officially launched.
2014 Range Rover Sport SVR debuts, the fastest, most agile, most powerful Land Rover.
2014 Discovery Vision Concept previews design vision for new family of Discovery vehicles.
2014 Launch of Discovery Sport, a new premium compact SUV with 5+2 seating.
2015 Trio of end-of-line Defender editions revealed with biggest sand drawing in UK.
2015 Exclusive Range Rover SVAutobiography long wheelbase launched in New York.
2015 Evoque Convertible becomes world’s first luxury compact SUV convertible.
2015 One-of-a-kind Land Rover ‘Defender 2,000,000’ sells for £400,000 at charity auction.