If you were considering what vehicle would make the perfect taxi, the the Land Rover Defender would be high on that list if it was to be a taxi between peaks in the Himalayas — but pretty much last on the list if it was on general city duty.
Not to Land Rover, it would seem, as it recently transformed a SWB Defender 90 into a London black cab!
Being a SWB Defender 90, it has no rear doors. So, logically, it should be the perfect taxi, right? Oh ... wait ...
Fear not, however, because the Defender taxi isn’t a permanent replacement for the classic London black cab, rather a one-off built to promote the Defender 2 million charity auction held at Bonhams a few days ago, as well as feature in a film being made to celebrate 67 years of the Defender as it enters the final phase of production.
The film, released last week, also stars a number of other more unusual, specially modified vehicles including a Series II Land Rover icecream van, a specially tailored Paul Smith Defender and the first-ever Series Land Rover show car, displayed at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948, all taking in London’s famous landmarks as they “tell the story of the Defender’s rich history”. Which seems odd, as most of the Defender’s richest history is out of the city and off the road, really.
We are the world
■When 57-year-old Cathy Bernstein of Florida, bounced off a truck and then rear-ended a van, her first response was to run. Which makes sense, because ... no, wait, it’s stupid. But luckily for everyone, Cathy was very stupid and forgot her Ford Focus was equipped with Ford’s 911 Assist system, which uses a paired Bluetooth phone to contact 911 and automatically report an accident. In short, Cathy’s car narced on her, and the police arrested her shortly after. It’s pretty sad when your car has a more accurate moral compass than you do ...
Jag eyes up Silverstone
The rumour doing the rounds is that Jaguar Land Rover is considering buying Britain’s legendary Silverstone race track.
According to the Daily Telegraph the negotiations are in a very early stage, but JLR has reportedly asked a property consultant to value the Northamptonshire track, suggesting a lot more than just a passing interest.
Though Land Rover doesn’t exactly have an illustrious history soon the race tracks of the world, Jaguar certainly does, so the company’s acquisition of a race track — and no doubt setting up headquarters or at the very least a serious testing and development facility there — would not only celebrate that heritage, but also give serious credibility to future performance car and race efforts.
While neither JLR nor the British Racing Drivers’ Club, which owns the track, have confirmed the rumours, the BRDC has hinted it has received confidential offers for purchase of the track.
Earlier this year Jaguar released a video celebrating its legacy at Silverstone by belting a modern XJR and the 1988 Le Mans-winning XJR-9 (which, driven by British driver, Martin Brundle, also won the World Sportscar Championship that year, as well as the round held at Silverstone) around the legendary track.
These are the muscle cars you are looking for
Remember when The Good Oil told you how car makers love to jump on the Star Wars bandwagon to promote their cars, despite the fact the film involves no cars whatsoever?
Well, Dodge has got in on the act with Stormtrooper-themed cars, nicking the idea stablemate Fiat used on the 500 a while back.
Chrysler has wrapped a Challenger and a Charger to look like Stormtroopers. A Viper gets a contrasting black and silver look inspired by one of The Force Awakens’ main villains, Kylo Ren.
Of course, given the bad guys always get the coolest gear, both the Challenger and Charger are SRT models and pack the utterly awesome supercharged 6.2-litre Hellcat Hemi V8 that pumps out a wonderful 527kW, while the mighty Viper is the race-ready ACR model that packs a 8.4-litre V10 with “only” 481kW.
The Good Oil would love to see how a bunch of teddy bears with spears or an army of aquatic racial stereotypes led by a babbling idiot with big ears would deal with that kind of firepower ...
The Dodges have been prowling the streets of LA so fans can stare longingly at them, although there are — we will continue to repeat this — absolutely no cars in Star Wars!
That’s not cricket
In what The Good Oil first assumed to be a catastrophically poorly-timed April Fools’ joke, toy maker Mattel has released a new toy car that features a form of autonomous driving — by letting a live cricket do the steering.
The Bug Racer seems to be designed to teach children about the benefits of imprisoning and torturing insects, comes complete with a device for safely handling crickets and features a clear plastic “habitat” for keeping the unfortunate cricket in, including a dining area and living quarters, as well as a magnified “cockpit” area.
Slap in a bunch of AA batteries and one of Jiminy’s relations and then the action really starts, as the Bug Racer has motion sensors in the cockpit that track the cricket’s panicky attempts to hide or escape and use them to “steer” the car, which will automatically reverse and change course when it hits something. And it will, often, with a mindless insect controlling it.
When your child gets bored with watching a cricket trying to make a getaway or — more likely — simply try to hide, motionless, in the corner, the Bug Racer also has an auto-drive mode which pretty much makes the idea of jamming a cricket in there utterly pointless in the first place. Still, how will our kids ever learn that other living creatures are simply here for us to exploit for our entertainment if we don’t have toys like this?
Production run of the Range Rover Defender.
Daily output of Defenders from JLR’s Solihull factory.