It is impossible to talk about Land Rover without mentioning the iconic Defender.
The Land Rover Defender is arguably one of the best-known model ranges to come from any manufacturer, ever.
It’s been around since 1948 and was originally intended for agricultural and work use – as it came with a single seat and a central steering column.
However, buyers soon realised that the robust and dependable Defender could be cut, moulded, and shaped to suit more needs.
This included everything from custom snow plows, to tanks, to bulletproof chariots for royalty.
Soon after the emergence of custom Defenders in the 1950s, the Roadless Traction company in Hounslow, UK, saw an opportunity.
The company’s main business was converting conventional tractors into four-wheel-drive variants for customers needing vehicles with exemplary traction and ground clearance, such as the Forestry Commission.
This led to the creation of the 1964 Series IIA Forest Rover.
The Forest Rover featured the cab of the Defender, situated between four oversized wheels and flat cargo areas.
Around 20 units were assembled, with most sent overseas soon after production.
Another unusual Defender emerged in 1958, by the name of the Series II Cuthbertson.
This vehicle was also purpose-built for rough terrains, but the target market was farmers in Scotland.
They were forced to work in harsh conditions and uneven landscapes, which made the Cuthbertson the perfect companion.
The vehicle was named after the company that built it, which was the same company that manufactured rubber tracks as far back as World War II.
They replaced the original wheels with sprockets, which drove the tracks that were mounted on a strong subframe.
The result was a Defender that performed exceptionally well on soggy marshlands, but who struggled to crawl up steep inclines.
When the Series II Defender was released it was immediately modified for government service duties.
This included Defender police cars, ambulances, coastguard vehicles, snow plows, fire trucks, and as transport for the Queen of England.
The Series IIA Forward Control models then moved the vehicle’s cabin further to the front, leaving a large loading bed at the back which was filled with whatever tools that particular vehicle needed.
Resultant models were mostly used as trucks to haul cargo or passengers, as well as one of the coolest-looking fire trucks ever produced.
These were not the only quirky Defenders ever made, though, as there were many more modified examples during its 70-odd years of life.