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There aren't very many vehicles on our blue planet that have soldered on for 61 straight years, but the Land Rover Defender comes up on the short list. The Defender is reason numero uno why Land Rover has the off-road superstar status that it does, but the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the go anywhere SUV may finally be nearing the end of the dirt trail.

Land Rover managing director Phil Popham reportedly told Australian newsletter GoAutoNew that emissions and pedestrian safety laws will force the Tata Motors-owned automaker to either profoundly re-engineer or flat-out replace the Defender by 2013. The iconic Defender, which is also available in the U.S., hasn't even received major body work since 1983, which incidentally was the year Plinko was added to Price is Right. Popham insists that Land Rover won't replace the Defender with a kinder, gentler vehicle, adding that the new vehicle would offer even more on- and off-road capability, and we're guessing that any new model will come standard with more modern aesthetics inside and out.

While it's pretty clear that the Defender as we know it is likely on it's last set of knobby tires, there is still a decent chance that the geriatric SUV's successor could retain the Defender name. After all, you just don't throw away 61 years of name recognition on a whim, right?

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

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