I’ve always been a bit of a car nut. My love of cars can be traced all the way back to when I was a toddler, laying on my stomach and running matchbox cars back and forth along the tile grooves of the back patio. I’m told that once I figured our how to mobilise myself, I’d often make my way across the back yard on my hands and knees towards my father’s bay-window Volkswagen Kombi, where I’d then sit in-front of a tyre and attempt to turn it by hand, with a steely-eyed look of determination on my face.
It was a very no-frills life out in the countryside where I grew up, but in the years following I graduated from one of those Flintstone-esque foot operated plastic trikes to a pedal-powered toddler tricycle, followed by a billy cart and then on to what was arguably the first proper vehicle I’d ever owned – a pedal car.
It might have looked more ‘go-kart’ than ‘car’, with an exposed metal frame painted in fire engine red and a complete absence of any body panels at all, a small sports style steering wheel and plastic bucket seat, but I absolutely adored it. Having just reached primary school age I even used it to cruise down the 400m gravel driveway which ran from the house out to the nearest road where the school bus would pick me up, knowing damn well that walking would have been faster. I simply didn’t care. All that mattered was that it would be waiting for me, hidden safely behind the bushes near the front gate when I got home in the afternoon.
I knew all its foibles; like how you had to zig-zag up hills and practically stand on the pedals in order to keep them moving, and then on the way back down at speed you’d have to rest your feet on the frame, otherwise they’d be on the pedals which were now moving at the speed of sound.
I probably covered a few hundred kilometres in that car, through rough and hilly terrain that it clearly hadn’t been designed for. It soldiered on for many years, no doubt helped in part by my weekly service schedule, which consisted of applying used engine oil to pretty much anything that moved, but in the end the pedal mechanism seized and I had no idea why. I’d almost outgrown it anyway, so the writing was on the wall. It was retired and I moved on to various bicycles and eventually a motorcycle, but the humble pedal car had a huge impact on my life.
Had I been a millionaire like Richie Rich, the prospect of Land Rover’s special collector’s Defender pedal car would have had be bouncing off the walls, and even as an adult I can’t help but get a little excited about it. With production of current Defender now in its final phase, I think the Defender pedal car is a fitting tribute to the one of the world’s most iconic off-road vehicles.
The Defender pedal car will be hand built in the UK and styled to commemorate the first-ever pre-production Land Rover, affectionately know as ‘Huey’ given its original numberplate of ‘HUE 166’. It is meticulously hand built in the UK and features a roll-edge aluminium frame complete with an individual chassis number, and bodywork that is constructed precisely to scale to incorporate all of the Defender’s distinctive characteristics such as protective chequer plate, cylindrical running bars and rugged off-road tyres complete with mud flaps. It is then hand finished in the same Loire Blue found on the full-scale Defender colour palette.
The pedal-drive assembly is constructed to enable the young driver to pedal both forwards and backwards while a spring suspension and working brakes – complete with parking brake – will allow the little one to go on many big adventures. Certainly features I’d never have dreamt of back in the day!
Land Rover’s attention to detail continues inside, where engineers have designed and an authentically styled dashboard, working horn and rear stowage section with cover. It even contains a leather trimmed seat and steering wheel.
Jaguar Land Rover’s Director of Branded and Licensed Goods Lindsay Weaver said: “This is both a wonderful collector’s piece and children’s toy. It demonstrates our ability to produce goods with world class quality and attention to detail that can emulate our world class Jaguar and Land Rover cars.”
As you’d expect, it won’t be cheap. The final production version of the Land Rover pedal car is expected to cost around £10,000 or USD$15,147.