How the love of one car turned a chemical tycoon into an automaker overnight.
It was a sad day when Land Rover announced that the iconic Defender was going out of production. The SUV had accumulated some of the most devout fans throughout its 68 years of existence and some were simply not able to say goodbye. Many wish they could find a way to revive the piece of automotive history, but only few can feasibly do it. Billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos Chemical Company, is one such fan and he was prepared to truck in cash by the boatload to have Land Rover revive the Defender.
Unfortunately for Ratcliffe, JLR quickly sent those dreams to the grave by telling him, “We’re not going to let anyone build our Defender.” Still, Ratcliffe persisted and now it seems that some type of vehicle with a strong resemblance to the Defender will make its way to production and be made by his own company. Ratcliffe says that copyrights won’t be much of an issue because the original Defender is old enough that it can’t claim rights like a vehicle made recently can. Ineos has already commissioned studies to look into costs and legal logistics, but Ratcliffe’s tough talk about building a $331 million dollar plant to produce 20,000 off-roaders per year seems to confirm that the man is serious.
Ratcliffe is not only interested in bringing the Defender back to life, he also wants to improve on it by retaining the look and capability while giving it the reliability of the Toyota Land Cruiser. Ineos thinks that by combining these two elements the world would see the best off-roader ever made. If plans go through, we could see the Defender’s distant offspring on sale in as little as two to three years with Africa and the US being the primary target markets. Luckily pricing would be similar to that of the original Defender so don't expect to pay Icon FJ45 prices. We absolutely love this idea because throughout the history of the automobile it has always been the madmen with a dream and the means to make it happen who have reshaped the car as we know it.