In one of the message boards for Land Rover enthusiaists (discussing the difference between two engines, the 200tdi and 300tdi, and cambelt problems), you find this comment:
As with many things Land Rover, the customers do the lion’s share of product development, so my preference would be a later 300.
Admitted, I am a wannabe LRO enthusiaist; during 1995-2005 I owned an old lady — a 1972 Series III — in Iceland, which is now (hopefully) being restored by a proud owner in a small village at the north coast of Iceland.
I suspect that many LRO owners enjoy themselves in exploring their vehicles and exchanging war stories. Stories that may result in innovative solutions.
There is a very fine balance between the struggle of repairing common failuers vs. the idea that users participate in the development of the products they use. This latter is discussed further in e.g. von Hippel (2005:74), who asserts the following:
Users can be sophisticated developers within those niches, despite their reliance on their own need information and solution information that they already have in stock. On the need side, recall that user-innovators gener-ally are lead users and generally are expert in the field or activity giving rise to their needs. With respect to solution information, user firms have specialties that may be at a world-class level. (The whole book is downloadable here).
4×4 owners in Iceland have a long story of adapting standard vehicles to local conditions. Substantial changes have been made on various models. Here are few examples:
The Russian GAZ 69 has been modified to suit Icelandic conditions, initially for farmers here, and later for those who wanted to climb the mountains. Another 4×4 from Russia is the Lada Niva Lada Niva, who by few occasions got bigger tires.
One of the most popular 4×4 that was modified is the Ford Bronco (the models made from mid 1960s to mid 1970s). Here is Bronco that has not been modified. The car takes on a different shape with larger tires, and a full-blown version is quite different from the original.
Jeep / Willys were also a popular subject of modifications. In the middle of this picture we have a Willys made in the mid 1940s (photo allegedly taken in 1983), here struggling in a river in Iceland during the Easter break in 1983.
Since we started out by Land Rover, we must also provide a link to some modifications of these vehicles albeit they are relatively rare in Iceland.
Now, what is the point of all this?
In Iceland, there was both need and knowledge that allowed this to happen. Eventually, the interest for this did disseminate into extreme off road motor sport. Take a look at this piece on Youtube – this is from an Icelandic “torfæra”; the cars were modified further for use in competitions in Iceland that eventually caught the interest of international TV viewers of motorsport.
What remains to be explored is whether (and how) this development did catch the attention of the designers and manufacturers in the automotive industry:
Was the experience in Iceland transferred to up-stream levels of the automotive supply chains?