Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe is a British billionaire involved in a myriad of different industries and enterprises, including various motorsport pursuits such as recently backing the Mercedes AMG F1 team. Ratcliffe is now leaving the immaculately-paved F1 tracks for a new off-road vehicle project that aims to deliver a modern iteration of the Land Rover Defender that maintains the distinctive spirit and rugged nature of the original British SUV.
After initially attempting to buy the tooling and licensing for the old Defender — to no avail — Ratcliffe opted to create his own spartan SUV from scratch, albeit while using the Defender as something of a basis. Dubbed the Grenadier 4X4, this vehicle emulates the traditional aesthetics of the Defender, though in a distinctly modernized form. Mechanical highlights include a ladder chassis, permanent all-wheel-drive, lockable differentials, and a 3.0L six-cylinder BMW engine mated to a ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic gearbox supplemented via a separate low-range transfer-case. Ineos — the company behind this project (of which Ratcliffe is chairman and CEO) — is constructing a manufacturing facility for the Grenadier in Wales and aims to begin production in late 2021. Pricing is expected to be around $50K, which would place it on par with the latest Defender.