Step back in time to witness 65 years of Land Rover gruelling expeditions 

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The New Defender faced its toughest challenge yet this year, as four vehicles tackled a 686km route Kaokoland in Namibia, known as ¿the land God made in anger¿


The all-new Land Rover Defender is – without doubt – the most eagerly-anticipated four-wheeled arrival in 2020. Hitting showrooms this year, the durable 4X4 will keep with traditions with the option of a three-door Defender 90 and five-door Defender 110, with prices starting from £40,290.

But before it has been offered up to a long list of keen customers, the SUV has been subject to one of the most extreme offroad tests to ensure it’s up to whatever task drivers put it to, taking on the unforgiving landscape of Namibia in West Africa.

Such tests of endurance are nothing new for the British marque, which has been putting its hardened 4X4s against the elements for years. Some 65, in fact. Step back in time with us in this picture special to see ten of the best.

2020 – New Land Rover Defender in Kaokoland, Namibia

The New Defender faced its toughest challenge yet this year, as four vehicles tackled a 686km route Kaokoland in Namibia, known as ‘the land God made in anger’

From towering sand dunes to bone-dry riverbeds, it was a four-day expedition across some of the world¿s toughest terrain in scorching temperatures

From towering sand dunes to bone-dry riverbeds, it was a four-day expedition across some of the world’s toughest terrain in scorching temperatures

Across large rock crawls, packed sand and deep waterways the Defenders made slow and steady progress. Ideal for taking in all the nature...

Across large rock crawls, packed sand and deep waterways the Defenders made slow and steady progress. Ideal for taking in all the nature…

At one point the expedition tackled Van Zyl¿s pass, built by Dutch explorer Ben van Zyl in the ¿60s, and littered with large rocks, loose gravel and steep descents of up to 35 degrees

At one point the expedition tackled Van Zyl’s pass, built by Dutch explorer Ben van Zyl in the ‘60s, and littered with large rocks, loose gravel and steep descents of up to 35 degrees

From Van Zyl¿s pass, the expedition headed to Marienfluss and the Skeleton Coast National Park

From Van Zyl’s pass, the expedition headed to Marienfluss and the Skeleton Coast National Park

Stretching 500km along the Atlantic, the waters of the Skeleton Coast are renowned for strong currents, sharp rocks, shifting sandbanks and thick fog, leading to the beaches being littered with ghostly remains of ships

Stretching 500km along the Atlantic, the waters of the Skeleton Coast are renowned for strong currents, sharp rocks, shifting sandbanks and thick fog, leading to the beaches being littered with ghostly remains of ships

2017 – Land Rover Discovery 5 in Peru

In recent years, the current Discovery has been used on the Land Rover Experience (LRE) Tours, tackling far-flung destinations and tricky off-road challenges

In recent years, the current Discovery has been used on the Land Rover Experience (LRE) Tours, tackling far-flung destinations and tricky off-road challenges

In 2017, LRE Tours took on Peru across two six-day stages. How about this for a photo of the terrain being tackled en route?

 In 2017, LRE Tours took on Peru across two six-day stages. How about this for a photo of the terrain being tackled en route?

The off-road expedition headed through the Peruvian mountains, jungles and desert toward the ancient Inca city of Machu Pichu, 4,200 metres above sea level in the Andes Mountains

The off-road expedition headed through the Peruvian mountains, jungles and desert toward the ancient Inca city of Machu Pichu, 4,200 metres above sea level in the Andes Mountains

Once again, the gruelling feat was accomplished in stock vehicles with only a few minor genuine Land Rover accessories added

Once again, the gruelling feat was accomplished in stock vehicles with only a few minor genuine Land Rover accessories added

 2013 – Range Rover Hybrid, from the Solihull to Mumbai, India

Land Rover Hybrids in London

Land Rover Hybrids in India

In an extreme engineering validation test, Land Rover employees set off from Land Rover’s UK home at Solihull to drive the 16,800km extended Silk Trail, arriving in Mumbai, India, 53 days later

The mission took the vehicles through Europe and into Central Asia, passing the mythical Silk Trail cities of Bukhara and Samarkand on their way to the ultimate challenge ¿ the Himala

The mission took the vehicles through Europe and into Central Asia, passing the mythical Silk Trail cities of Bukhara and Samarkand on their way to the ultimate challenge…

...the Himalayas. In the high altitudes of the Tibetan plateau, the Range Rover Hybrids entered a technical unknown

…the Himalayas. In the high altitudes of the Tibetan plateau, the Range Rover Hybrids entered a technical unknown

Pushed into thinning air at 5,000m, the reduced atmospheric pressure put engines and cooling systems to the ultimate test.

Pushed into thinning air at 5,000m, the reduced atmospheric pressure put engines and cooling systems to the ultimate test.

2012 – Land Rover Discovery 4, from Birmingham to Beijing, China

In 2012, the one millionth Discovery built started the 'Journey of Discovery' from its birthplace in Birmingham to Beijing in China - one of Land Rover's fastest growing markets

In 2012, the one millionth Discovery built started the ‘Journey of Discovery’ from its birthplace in Birmingham to Beijing in China – one of Land Rover’s fastest growing markets

The 50-day, 8,000-mile adventure was undertaken by three Land Rover Discovery vehicles

They traveled through more than a dozen countries across Europe and Central Asia

The 50-day, 8,000-mile adventure was undertaken by three Land Rover Discovery vehicles travelling through more than a dozen countries across Europe and Central Asia, culminating at the Beijing motor show on 23 April

The challenge followed in the tyre tracks of 'The First Overland Expedition' of 1955, in which a team in Series 1 Land Rovers set out from Birmingham to Beijing

The challenge followed in the tyre tracks of ‘The First Overland Expedition’ of 1955, in which a team in Series 1 Land Rovers set out from Birmingham to Beijing

Land Rover Discovery in the snow

Land Rover Discovery on the road

That expedition had to divert to Singapore, but in the spirit of the original challenge the Discovery will be crossing many of Land Rover’s major markets including the UK, Russia and China

2006 – Land Rover Discovery 3 completing the G4 Challenge in Thailand, Laos, Brazil and Bolivia

Designed as a successor the Camel Trophy (which appears later in this list), the G4 Challenge ran in 2003 and 2006

 Designed as a successor the Camel Trophy (which appears later in this list), the G4 Challenge ran in 2003 and 2006

In the latter running (pictured), Discovery 3 vehicles were used, totally unmodified apart from the fitment of some genuine Land Rover accessories

 In the latter running (pictured), Discovery 3 vehicles were used, totally unmodified apart from the fitment of some genuine Land Rover accessories

Some 18 nations competed in the Challenge, tasked with crossing Thailand, Laos, Brazil and Bolivia (pictured)

 Some 18 nations competed in the Challenge, tasked with crossing Thailand, Laos, Brazil and Bolivia (pictured)

A total of 39 Discovery 3s were used for the event, all of which made it to the end unscathed - despite the extreme terrains

A total of 39 Discovery 3s were used for the event, all of which made it to the end unscathed – despite the extreme terrains

The 4,000km route took 28 days to complete, including climbing mountains in Bolivia, traversing the jungles of Laos and the urban jungles of Rio de Janeiro and Bangkok

 The 4,000km route took 28 days to complete, including climbing mountains in Bolivia, traversing the jungles of Laos and the urban jungles of Rio de Janeiro and Bangkok

 1998 – Land Rover Discovery 2 Trek, from London to Paris 

The introduction of Discovery 2 was a baptism of fire, with two pre-production models taking on a Trek challenge of over 30,000km

The introduction of Discovery 2 was a baptism of fire, with two pre-production models taking on a Trek challenge of over 30,000km

The journey spanned from London to Paris, via Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Sydney, central America and more

The journey spanned from London to Paris, via Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Sydney, central America and more

Departing from London on June 1st 1998, the Discoverys were driven across western and eastern Europe to Istanbul

Departing from London on June 1st 1998, the Discoverys were driven across western and eastern Europe to Istanbul

The next leg of the trip then took then via Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India where they were shipped to Australia

The next leg of the trip then took then via Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India where they were shipped to Australia

The teams had to deal with temperatures above 50C as well as hair raising road hazards. These included gun-toting militia, ox-carts, unlit overloaded trucks, camels and monkeys before culminating in Paris

The teams had to deal with temperatures above 50C as well as hair raising road hazards. These included gun-toting militia, ox-carts, unlit overloaded trucks, camels and monkeys before culminating in Paris

1995 – Range Rover on the Hannibal Trail 

Where Hannibal crossed the Alps with elephants, Land Rover decided to opt for Range Rovers instead. Recreating Hannibal¿s famous journey from France into Italy via the Alps, this expedition included a gruelling 85 miles of off-roading through forests and up rocky climbs to more than 3000m above sea level

Where Hannibal crossed the Alps with elephants, Land Rover decided to opt for Range Rovers instead. Recreating Hannibal’s famous journey from France into Italy via the Alps, this expedition included a gruelling 85 miles of off-roading through forests and up rocky climbs to more than 3000m above sea level

With newly upgraded electronic suspension and a new long wheelbase chassis, the Hannibal Trail expedition was designed to showcase the capability and refinement of the second-generation Range Rover

With newly upgraded electronic suspension and a new long wheelbase chassis, the Hannibal Trail expedition was designed to showcase the capability and refinement of the second-generation Range Rover

The convoy of cars headed across Mount Cenis, near to the ski resort of Val d¿Isere

The convoy of cars headed across Mount Cenis, near to the ski resort of Val d’Isere

1972 – Range Rover on the Trans-America Expedition 

The Trans-America expedition took in the full 18,000-mile length of the American continent from Alaska to Cape Horn, using two Range Rovers provided by British Leyland to the British Trans Americas Committee

The Trans-America expedition took in the full 18,000-mile length of the American continent from Alaska to Cape Horn, using two Range Rovers provided by British Leyland to the British Trans Americas Committee

Although an 18,000-mile expedition is a challenge in itself, the Range Rovers were in uncharted territory when it came to the Darien Gap¿

Although an 18,000-mile expedition is a challenge in itself, the Range Rovers were in uncharted territory when it came to the Darien Gap…

The Darien Gap is a 250-mile stretch of swamp and impenetrable jungle, preventing all road traffic from passing between the north and south parts of the American continent

The Darien Gap is a 250-mile stretch of swamp and impenetrable jungle, preventing all road traffic from passing between the north and south parts of the American continent

The expedition took a full 99 days to fight their way through this stretch alone

The expedition took a full 99 days to fight their way through this stretch alone

The expedition took place between December 1971 and June 1972, led by Col John Blashford-Snell

The expedition took place between December 1971 and June 1972, led by Col John Blashford-Snell

1972 – Land Rover Discovery I on the Camel Trophy, USSR 

In 1990 the Land Rover Discovery I took on a gruelling 1,000-mile expedition through the USSR as part of the Camel Trophy

In 1990 the Land Rover Discovery I took on a gruelling 1,000-mile expedition through the USSR as part of the Camel Trophy

The trek travelled across some of the most remote terrain on earth, starting in Bratsk, then travelling south to Kob, through the vast Tiga Forest via Kachug to Lake Biakal, then west to the finish at Irkutsk on the Angara River

The trek travelled across some of the most remote terrain on earth, starting in Bratsk, then travelling south to Kob, through the vast Tiga Forest via Kachug to Lake Biakal, then west to the finish at Irkutsk on the Angara River

The Camel Trophy ran with Land Rover Discovery I vehicles from most of the decade, spanning from 1990 to 1997

The Camel Trophy ran with Land Rover Discovery I vehicles from most of the decade, spanning from 1990 to 1997

Land Rover Disxcover I crossing Lake Biakal

Land Rover Disxcover I crossing Lake Biakal

Other events retraced famous routes in Tanzania, Burundi, Mongolia, Paraguay, Chile and more

As many as 17 competitors took part in each Camel Trophy event, traversing rivers and winching out of muddy ravines in the ultimate test of durability

As many as 17 competitors took part in each Camel Trophy event, traversing rivers and winching out of muddy ravines in the ultimate test of durability

1955 – Land Rover Series I and the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition

This 1955 expedition, comprising six students from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, was a ¿world first¿, capturing the imagination of an international audience thanks to three films commissioned by David Attenborough. Two Land Rover Series I vehicles travelled over land from London to Singapore, apart from the English Channel and the Bosphorus

This 1955 expedition, comprising six students from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, was a ‘world first’, capturing the imagination of an international audience thanks to three films commissioned by David Attenborough. Two Land Rover Series I vehicles travelled over land from London to Singapore, apart from the English Channel and the Bosphorus

The Series I cars were straight off the production line with a few minor modifications, including spotlights, winches and extra fuel tanks. They faced some major hurdles along the way, including the desert between Damascus and Baghdad, which took 14 hours alone in sweltering temperatures

The Series I cars were straight off the production line with a few minor modifications, including spotlights, winches and extra fuel tanks. They faced some major hurdles along the way, including the desert between Damascus and Baghdad, which took 14 hours alone in sweltering temperatures

They also tackled the famous Ledo road between Burma and India and requiring the crossing of hundreds of streams and rivers, constantly keeping an eye out for thieves and headhunters

They also tackled the famous Ledo road between Burma and India and requiring the crossing of hundreds of streams and rivers, constantly keeping an eye out for thieves and headhunters

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