The ceasing of Land Rover Defender’s production was slated for 2015, however, it was delayed for about a month. But as is with all the good things in the world, it did come to an end. Land Rover has manufactured the last of the Defender on Friday and announced the end of 68 years of Series/Defender production.
Before the Defender lovers become sad, let us tell them that a new Defender Heritage program was part of the event and a Defender replacement is in works as well. You would be surprised to know that Series/Defender started off with a sketch in the sand. Rover engineering director Maurice Wilks made a simple sketch on sand of Wales’ Red Wharf Bay in 1947 and thus, the Land Rover was born. With the backing of Wilks’ brother Spencer – Rover’s MD at that time, Rover was able to quickly embrace the idea and got the ball rolling.
The Land Rover Series I marked its debut at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show and the production began at Solihull a few months after the debut. The new utility vehicle at that time had a price tag of £450, equivalent to $650 by today’s exchange rates and utilized a 50hp 1.6-liter engine.
The name Defender was coined up after 40 years in 1990. And now, 26 years after the Defender name was coined, the last of the Defender/Series models have rolled out of Solihull. The Model is a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top and is slated to become a member of the Jaguar Land Rover Collection.
Nick Rogers, Jaguar Land Rover group engineering director said, “The world has changed dramatically in the last 68 years, but this vehicle has remained a constant – something no other vehicle can claim. The last of the current Defender models embraces the vehicle’s simplicity, honesty and charm – it represents its Series Land Rover heritage.”
Over 700 former and current employees of the Land Rover were invited to the event that was held at Solihull. A total of about 2 dozen iconic Defenders from the past were on display including ‘Huey’, the very first 1948 preproduction Series I.
The Heritage Restoration program we mentioned in the start is slated to begin operation on the site of Solihull production line and a team of 12 experts has been assigned the task of restoring and selling Series and Defender models. As far as the Defender’s replacement go, Rogers said, “Creating the Defender of tomorrow, a dream for any engineer or designer, is the next exciting chapter and we are looking forward to taking on that challenge.”