The iconic Land Rover Defender is to cease production today after 33 years in continuous production.
Built by Jaguar Land Rover at its Solihull factory, the Defender can trace its roots through the original Series vehicles back to 1948, making it one of world’s first four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The Land Rover was conceived by then Rover engineering director Maurice Wilks and built with the collaboration of brother Spencer, Rover’s managing director. Maurice had wanted something that could double as a light tractor and off-road vehicle for the family spread on the island of Anglesey.
More than two million Defenders were built.
It was the original Series I, II and III Land Rovers that established the marque's multiple-decade presence on the roads of the world: on farms; carrying blue lights; in the military; various outdoor and wildlife services; taken off-road by adventurers; in James Bond films; and even being driven by the royals – with Her Majesty the Queen having her very own Landy.
What helped establish the Defender's presence was its power and performance. Each part served a purpose but was easily replaceable when broken. This was a toughened vehicle able to withstand many conditions and to keep performing. In many ways, the Defender was the British equivalent of the Soviet Union's AK-47 assault rifle.
What did finally stop the Defender was European Union standards on vehicle emissions due to come into force in 2020, with JLR unable or unwilling to upgrade the vehicle.
Defender fan and Reg contributor Mark Whitehorn took the farewell Defender Celebration Tour at the Meteor Works, Land Rover’s site in Lode Lane, Solihull, last year. ®
Vulture Central's backroom gremlins recall a possibly apocryphal Australian Landy joke: "If you want to go into the outback, drive a Land Rover. If you want to come back again, drive a Toyota."