Rusty panels on your new Land Rover Defender is super lame

I’ve long been anti faux patina. The idea of it just seems so dumb to me. If a vehicle has patina, it’s create to preserve and celebrate that. There’s a notion that the vehicle has been on a journey that’s taken it places. It’s made people smile. There’s a story to be told. When you fake that, it’s like the automotive equivalent of stolen valor. That might be a bit extreme, but it’s the easiest way to show how poorly I think of fake patina. And now Dutch designer Niels van Roij is taking it to a new level with oxidized panels for the Land Rover Defender.

This is… not good.

Those trim pieces with a time-worn look? When a Defender rolls off the assembly line, those pieces are plastic. And they’re surrounded by body panels crafted from aluminum. None of this will rust. So what you see here is not only faux patina, it’s impossibly faux patina. To achieve this look the RVJ design team binds metal to the panel and then can achieve whatever look is desired for the finish.

I’m actually for swapping out the plastic bits on the Defender. I think it’s sill that Land Rover put plastic here than stamped it to look like the metal pieces on the older Defenders. Those were useful hood elements that could bear weight. These plastic trim pieces are No Step zones. So for a company to develop a metal-based alternative here is actually something I assumed would happen from the get-go. Just not like this.

You don’t have to make the panel look rusty though, which is good to hear. Neils van Roij will finish it to look like aluminum, brass, bronze, titanium, zinc, and even gold. Some of those will look goofy, but they’ll be much more ornamental and fitting to the vehicle at that point. Fake rust just looks extra goofy. And I hate it.

If you buy a Land Rover Defender, do what you want with it. But if you decide to go with fake rust on your plastic trim, we’re all allowed to shake our heads in disgust. This is dumb. And it’s a shame too because the RVJ design team does some great work. I think those trim pieces on the Defender are definitely ripe for customization… just not like this.

11 Comments

  1. “…those pieces are plastic. And they’re surrounded by body panels crafted from aluminum. None of this will rust.”

    You may find yourself revising this after you’ve owned your British car a bit longer.

    1. My British car is made from metal crafted in wet sheds. The new Defender, thankfully, is not.

  2. I don’t think this is aspirational at all. I think it’s just what you said it was, one of a number of finish options for some aftermarket dress-up parts.
    When you step back from the matter a bit, you can ditch the preconceived notion that any deliberately rust patinated automobile part MUST be “phony” (okay, Holden Caulfield, simmer down), and pathetically trying to be something it’s not. Rust is just another finish that’s applied to metal, like paint, electroplate, anodizing, chemical bluing, media blasting or whatever.

    I actually think this is quite clever, having just the rust layer and still keeping the substrate as plastic. Nifty, and sets your Chelsea Tractor apart from all the others down at Tesco.

    1. Rust is just another finish that’s applied to metal, like paint, electroplate, anodizing, chemical bluing, media blasting or whatever.”

      No, no it’s not.

      Faux rust on that Land Rover is the exact equivalent of Marie Antoinette dressing up as Shepherdess in her fantasy village. It’s just poor taste.

      https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/60798/shepherdess-marie-antoinette

      Oh, and note that you have to wear these jeans when you drive the Rover or it spoils the whole effect:

      https://www.neimanmarcus.com/p/prps-mens-the-five-distressed-jeans-prod222154996?childItemId=NMN6AU4_&navpath=cat000000_cat000470_cat14120827_cat48720745&page=0&position=4

    2. I agree that is just another finish and in this case one that drew enough attention to make the rounds on automotive websites gaining free advertising for the finishes they are likely to sell.

      1. Right? This whole post is, like, “Here look at all these hi-res pictures of this thing I hate.”

  3. Considering the OG Defender’s history of rust and galvanic corrosion issues the idea of putting intentionally rusty stuff on a Land Rover is mind boggling.

  4. Just saying, but using lame to describe something you don’t like
    is well …… not cool.

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