Land Rover celebrated its anniversary on 30 April, 2021 – 73 years to the day since the world debut of the original Land Rover at the Amsterdam Motor Show on 30 April, 1948. Global Land Rover ambassadors and humanitarian adventurers Kingsley and Ross Holgate have commemorated World Land Rover Day (WLRD) by revealing the names of their two, already battle-hardened New Defenders 110s.
As per the decades-old Holgate tradition of naming their expedition vehicles, the two New Defenders have earned their titles, but only after nine months and many thousands of hard kilometres.
“We first gave them 30,000km of tough expedition work. Like all our previous expedition Land Rovers, they needed to prove themselves,” said Ross Holgate. “On the Mzansi Edge expedition to track the entire outline of South Africa, including land-locked Lesotho last year, they completed 16,000km of challenging conditions in just 80 days and started to show their ‘personalities’.”
Since Mzansi Edge, the Defenders have continued to work tirelessly on the ‘Feeding the Wildlife Community’ Covid-19 hunger relief campaign, distributing tonnes of nutritious Do More porridge packs to rural families and children at Early Childhood Development centres close to conservation areas, who are still affected by the loss of tourism-related jobs and income. More recently they’ve also done an emergency malaria prevention dash into Mozambique to help communities affected by cyclonic rains and flooding.
“They are now worthy of their titles,” said Kingsley Holgate. “My Defender 110 is proud to bear the name ‘Isibindi’, which means courage in Zulu. Ross has given his Defender the name ‘Moyo’, which in different languages can mean rejoice, life, or soul; but for our purposes, we’ve taken the Swahili meaning – heart, as we believe that the heart of Land Rover lies here in Africa.”
Like so many other Land Rover owners, the Holgates have a long history of naming their expedition vehicles. The two Defenders the team took around the world on the 2001 Tropic of Capricorn expedition were called ‘Chuma’ and ‘Susi’, after the two brave hearts who carried Dr David Livingstone’s salt-dried body 2,000km across Africa from the Bangweleu swamps in northern Zambia, to Bagamoyo on the East African coast opposite Zanzibar in Tanzania.
Other expedition Land Rovers that were part of journeys to every single country on the African continent were named after early explorers, like ‘Livingstone’, ‘Stanley’ and ‘Mary Kingsley’. A battered, old, green Defender td5 that simply refused to give up was called ‘uBhejane’ (black rhino) and a canvassed-backed, Ghanaian-registered Defender the Holgates took to Timbuktu in Niger and beyond was nicknamed ‘Sahara’. Another Land Rover, which survived a harrowing attack of mudbrick, window-smashing missiles during a political riot in central Africa, earned the unusual title of ‘Brick’.
A big 130 Defender – one of the last, old model Defenders to come off the Solihull production line – and the ‘mother ship’ of the exceptionally difficult 2015 world-first expedition to discover the geographic centre of Africa, deep in the rainforests of the Republic of Congo, was aptly called, ‘Ndhlovukazi’ (the great she-elephant), as the expedition also highlighted the scourge of elephant poaching in Africa.
The Holgate’s personal 1956 Series 1 is called ‘Scarlett’ after Kingsley’s granddaughter, who loves the car so much that when she was small, could often be found curled up and fast asleep on the driver’s seat. Scarlett was part of a clutch of antique Series 1s, which undertook a colourful and historic journey to summit the high-altitude mountain passes of the Kingdom of Lesotho in 2016, as a symbolic farewell to the Defender as it was known at the time.
Another old Holgate Defender, which is still in the team and took part in two recent world-first expeditions (Extreme East and Cape Town to Kathmandu) and a host of other adventures, is simply nicknamed ‘The Stomach’, because she carries all the grub boxes and supplies! This stalwart of the Holgate’s fleet completed the dangerous crossing of war-torn Somalia on the Horn of Africa to reach Ras Xaafun, the most easterly point of the continent. A few months later, she took on the vast deserts of Iran and the high-altitude Karakoram Highway that joins northern Pakistan to China through the world’s three highest mountain ranges en route to Kathmandu in Nepal and then onto Calcutta – all without missing a beat.
“Isibindi (Courage) and Moyo (Heart) are fitting titles,” said Kingsley. “They’ll need a lot of both as we prepare for our next major expedition and all the challenges that a transcontinental journey will throw at them, as soon as Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted.”