Celebrities & Land Rovers: A History

Land Rover Defenders are often the utility truck chosen by celebrities and royalty because of the combination of immense luxury and quality that they consistently provide. But they are also vehicles capable of being truly unique, and matching up to the unconventional personality of an adventurous owner. Add all of these reasons up, and it emphasizes why the list of all-star names associated with the truck over the decades is very long. One name on that list stands out: the cornerstone of The Beatles, Paul McCartney.

Sir Paul, in fact, wrote a song, “Helen Wheels” in tribute to his vaunted Land Rover, an earlier version that would later inspire the Defender. The song was actually a 1973 single released just before the album Band on the Run, which was a notable Wings effort that followed the breakup of the Beatles. McCartney used the Land Rover to shuttle around his young family, and is quoted as saying this of the song and car:

“Helen Wheels is our Land Rover. It’s a name we gave to our Land Rover, which is a trusted vehicle that gets us around Scotland. It takes us up to the Shetland Islands and down to London.”

If you listen to the lyrics of the song (M6 South down Liverpool/Where they play the West coast sound), they trace a route that McCartney used to take in the truck. It’s a neat piece of music and Land Rover history mixed.

McCartney wasn’t the only celebrity linked to the epic nature of a Defender predecessor; he’s only one of many. Winston Churchill had a specially designed Series 1 with a large seat to fit his bulldog frame, and that exclusive car sold at auction for almost $165,000 in 2012. Steve McQueen also had a notable Land Rover Series IIA that he drove in the 1960s; it’s said to have been regularly sighted cruising the Sierra Madre Mountains.

And of course, even fictional celebrities have driven Defenders; the trucks have appeared in various forms over the course of the James Bond franchise, with the man himself often behind the wheel (Sean Connery, in real life, also is said to own a fleet on his estate).

The names of Land Rover Defender owners range on from Bob Marley (who had a Series truck) to Calvin Klein (who had a very distinctive 1993 NAS series), but what binds them all is the exclusivity of the truck as well as the ability to customize it to an amazing degree. And at East Coast Defender, we continue this tradition. We build cutting-edge Defenders that will, perhaps, inspire the next great song.

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