The Defender is Land Rover's most iconic model. When production began in 1948, the Series I as it was known was revolutionary, but it was built in a post-war time. A key example was the Series I's body being crafted out of aluminum. Not because it was resistant to rust, but because there was a shortage of steel in Great Britain. Changes on the Defender included the introduction a diesel engine in the late fifties, various body styles including a wagon, and the Defender name.
While the Defender is now seen as a status symbol in the Great Britain, it was previously the vehicle that farmers would use for various duties such as hauling equipment around.
Originally, Land Rover had planned to end Defender production in December. But thanks to a rush of last-minute orders from customers, Land Rover pushed the Defender production to the end of January.
To celebrate the final Defender, Land Rover invited more than 700 current and former Solihull employees to witness the last Defender roll down the assembly: Number 2,016,933, a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top finished in a light green.
"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," said Nick Rogers, Group Engineering Director at Jaguar Land Rover.
What's Next for the Defender?
As we reported last month, Land Rover is working on the next-generation model that will debut in 2018. The new model will not look like the DC concepts that were shown a few years back. Rumor has it that Land Rover will show a concept that will give us an idea of what the new model will look like.
But Land Rover Isn't Forgetting the Defender's Legacy
Land Rover announced a new Heritage Restoration program that will restore and sell early Series Land Rovers. The program will be staffed by twelve people, ten of which are coming from the Defender production. Land Rover has more planned for this program in the future.
"Land Rover Heritage will be offering cars, services, parts and experiences for all owners and fans around the world. Our new restoration service and the sale of expertly restored Series I vehicles is just the start of making sure that classic Land Rovers are not only part of our past but part of our future," said Tim Hannig, director of Jaguar Land Rover Heritage.