The last Defender has rolled off the line at Land Rover’s Solihull plant in the UK, ending a production run that started in 1990 and can trace it’s roots back to 1948 and the very first Series Land Rover.
To honour the historic moment, Land Rover invited over 700 current and former Solihull plant employees – people that between them have worked on everything from the early Series vehicles right through to the last of the Defenders – to enjoy and drive some historic Land Rovers, including the pre-production ‘Huey’ Series I and the very last Defender, a 90 Heritage Soft Top.
Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Today we celebrate what generations of men and women have done since the outline for the Land Rover was originally drawn in the sand. The Series Land Rover, now Defender, is the origin of our legendary capability, a vehicle that makes the world a better place, often in some of the most extreme circumstances. There will always be a special place in our hearts for Defender, among all our employees, but this is not the end. We have a glorious past to champion, and a wonderful future to look forward to.”
Land Rover also confirmed that it is putting together a team of experts and former line workers to carry out the restoration of a range of Series Land Rovers that it has sourced from around the world. The current Defender production line is where the restorations will take place with the first restored Series expected to go on sale in July this year.
There is of course an all new Defender in development, but it’s unlikely to evoke the same Boy’s Own sense of adventure that oozed from the original, or will it?
Nick Rogers, Group Engineering Director at Jaguar Land Rover, added: “This is a special day of fond celebration for Jaguar Land Rover. We all have personal memories of Defender. It’s a true motoring icon and is much loved around the world. 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. 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.”
One of the motoring world’s best kept secrets, the all new Defender’s development will be in it’s final stages with sales expected to begin in 2017.