Driven by the imminent demise of the Defender and the lack of an equivalent replacement for the foreseeable future, the UK hire firm has more than doubling its usual new-Defender intake of around 150-170 Defenders.
SHB Hire (shb.co.uk) is the largest civilian operator of Land Rovers in UK, with approximately 1500 Defenders being used by the emergency services, the MoD, quarry operators and the National Trust.
‘Some of our vehicles are covering 30,000 miles a year, and they need off-road capability once they get to site,’ says Paul Street, MD of SHB Hire. ‘They also pull drilling rigs, so their towing capability is important. Heritage and image has also become a factor more recently – we’ve even bought a few ‘blinged up’ ones.’
Will the Defender's successor be up to the job?
It’s the 110 station wagon’s nine-seater capacity (combined with its other strengths) that often give it the edge over other vehicles, says Street. ‘I hope Land Rover can come up with a replacement station wagon to carry passengers – that would be the hardest vehicle for me to replace.
‘Adaptability is key. We’ve got some that run on rails, tipper conversions, cherry pickers... Sadly it’s that mechano design that means the Defender can’t pass safety and emissions tests. It’s a victim of its own capability.’
The next-generation Defender (currently under wraps) is expected to go on sale in 2018.