Last Defender hurrah
Land Rover has announced the introduction of the Defender Celebration Series; the swansong for the iconic Defender before production ends at Jaguar Land Rover's Solihull factory in the UK this December. While a foreign production plant (away from EU6 emissions restrictions) is being investigated it is unlikely the resultant Defender will be offered for sale on these shores.
So to sign off, the Defender has gotten three special editions and a unique piece of artwork at the place where it was born, but more about that later, on to the special editions first.
According to Land Rover Vehicle Line Director Nick Rogers: "We wanted to mark the end of Defender production at Solihull with a special edition but coming up with a single identity was impossible, so we developed three very different interpretations of the Defender to reflect its strength and breadth of character."
"Whether our customers want to celebrate Land Rover's unrivalled off-road heritage, demand the ultimate in terms of design and performance or have a genuine thirst for adventure, there will be a limited edition Defender that will be fit for purpose."
With only 80 being produced the Autobiography Edition Defender is set to be the most exclusive. Based upon the 90 Station Wagon the Autobiography's 2.2-litre diesel engine has received a power hike - from 122- to 150hp - and it features a comprehensive equipment list, unique duo-tone paintwork and full Windsor leather. This won't come cheap mind, though we don't yet have an Irish market price.
Likely to have a certain Mr. Briscoe clambering for his local Land Rover dealership is the Heritage Edition. Sporting classic Grasmere Green paintwork with contrasting white roof colour scheme the Heritage is said to mix nostalgic design touches with modern comforts. Chief amongst those design cues is a grille modelled on that from the Series I Land Rover and 'HUE 166' graphics, which recall the registration plate of the very first Land Rover, lovingly nicknamed 'Huey'. Land Rover will build 400 Heritage Editions and they should begin to arrive in showrooms from August.
The final piece of the special edition jigsaw is the Adventure Edition with underbody cladding and Goodyear MT/R off-road tyres. Land Rover will build 600 Adventure Editions, all featuring unique decals and a leather trimmed interior.
Is there more?
The special editions mark the start of a year-long celebration for the Defender the 68th year of the iconic SUV. For the unveiling, Land Rover went back to where it all began: Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey, Wales where Maurice Wilks first sketched out his idea for a light tractor and off-roader for his brother (and head of Rover) Spencer.
To recreate that sketch, Land Rover called in six Defenders, each towing an agricultural 12-foot harrow, to draw a 1 kilometre wide Defender in the sand. The six vehicles, including a Land Rover Series I, II and III, a 90 from the Eighties, a Defender 90 Hard Top and a Defender 110 Station Wagon, finished the task of creating the largest sand drawing ever produced in the UK just moments before the tide washed it away again. The video embedded here tells the full story.
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