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Defender resurrected even without Land Rover's blessing?

The born-again Defender would be sold in the United States.

The on-going tug-of-war between Land Rover and British businessman Jim Ratcliffe just got a lot more intense. While the carmaker asserts that the last-generation Defender won't be resurrected, Ratcliffe seemingly believes he doesn't need Land Rover's blessing to build a truck that looks and drives an awful lot like the iconic off-roader.

Ineos, a chemical company founded by Ratcliffe, is carrying out a feasibility study to find out whether bringing back the Defender makes sense from a financial point of view. At the very least, the truck would need a new name and a new engine, but Ratcliffe pointed out that there are "minimal copyright issues" to overcome in order to launch a Defender-inspired SUV.

The investor won't simply shove a new engine under the Defender's hood and call it a day. He's ready to completely re-engineer the Defender in order to build a comprehensively improved model that's fully compliant with safety and emissions regulations in England and abroad. He also hinted that his born-again Defender would need to be at least as reliable as a Toyota Land Cruiser.

"I think the Defender can be upgraded to be the world's best and most rugged off-roader," summed up Ratcliffe in an interview with British magazine Autocar.

Executives will decide whether or not to move forward with the project after they've reviewed the results of the feasibility study, which are expected in December. If approved, the plan calls for the construction of a £250 million factory in the north of England that's capable of churning out 20,000 trucks annually. Ineos expects the off-roader's main markets will be England, Africa, and, surprisingly, the United States.

Land Rover hasn't commented on report.

Photos by Ronan Glon.

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