The end of the world as I know it is upon us. After an unbroken 67 years of production, and an iconic African silhouette that has barely changed in seven decades, the classic Land Rover will no longer be produced after December 2015.
The nanny state has won. The vehicle that is generally regarded as one of the safest vehicles on the road, because it simply doesn't go fast enough to do any damage, will cease production because it does not meet European and North American safety and emission standards.
What a load of codswallop.
Europe and America produce some of the most dangerous cars on the road. Audis, Mercs, BMWs, Chevs, Fords and the like that become lethal weapons at the hands of barely competent boy racers who think that just because a vehicle can do 240km/h, they have to drive it at that speed.
Drivers who have no understanding of the basic rules of physics, including that great paradox of motion, "what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?"
Or any understanding of Newton's Third law of Motion, which, simply put, is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As Newton so eloquently put it, "I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people."
So what happens if a very fast car hits a squishy pedestrian at 200km/h?
The pedestrian ends up very dead while the occupants of the car will be fine because (a) they have air bags and (b) they have a crumple zone.
Now the regulators in the US and Europe tell us that because the classic Land Rover (the Defender in its current guise) does not have air bags and a crumple zone (Landy owners have long held the belief that the car in front of them is their crumple zone) they are somehow unsafe. Come on, people, you can only be that unsafe if you can actually go fast.
And as for emission controls - the European emission rules are calculated on emissions per kilometre per kilogram. The classic Land Rover, as we all know, has the aerodynamics of a brick, so no matter what kind of environmentally friendly engine you stick in it, it has no chance of meeting their standards.
For 67 years, many of the Land Rover components have stayed exactly the same. You can still use the door hinge and pillar connection from a Series 1 on your brand new Defender. The headlights, tail lights, brake lights and indicator lenses stayed pretty much the same for 60 years (to replace the rear lens assembly on a Jaguar XF costs R4 482, on a Lexus IS R3 252 - the two rear lenses for my Land Rover cost R70 each brand new, about R10 second hand.)
Seven years ago in this column, I wrote that so many of the Land Rover components are interchangeable across the then 60 years of manufacturing that a US study worked out that the most environmentally friendly vehicles on the planet are Land Rovers and the basic Jeep Wrangler.
This was because their "cradle to grave" environmental footprint was so low because there were so few re-tooling costs, and most of the vehicle can be recycled - and, in Land Rover's case, 75 percent of Land Rovers ever built are allegedly still on the road (Toyota owners counter that the other 25 percent were the ones that made it home).
Surprisingly, the most environmentally unfriendly vehicle on the surveyed list was the Toyota Prius, the hybrid car so loved by Hollywood stars and right-on politicians - almost 15 times more costly to the environment than the two basic 4X4s.
This was because of the enormous tool-up costs of the production lines, and the fact that fashion dictates that every year a new model has to come out which has been radically restyled from the year before, meaning more tool-up costs, more consumables, more rare Metals and minerals being strip-mined in some remote rainforest.
I drive a Land Rover that was built in 1991.
I reckon it has at least another 20 years of life in it. My previous Land Rover, a Series IIA, was built in 1969, and in the 1990s, when it was pushing 26 years old, carried my wife and me 65 000 event-filled kilometres across two years of African travel.
My bet is that even though production of the current Land Rover Defender will cease in two years time, they will still be part of the African landscape for decades to come - even if it is as wheel-less hulk being used as a spaza shop in the jungles of the Congo.
Because old Land Rovers never die - they just smell that way. - Cape Times