Land Rover pulled the plug on the iconic Defender today. The UK plant which was building the Land Rover Defenders had been in operation for over 68 years. The list of people who have owned this British legend include Sean Connery, Robin Williams and also member of the Royal family including Queen Elizabeth II.
To commemorate this special event, over 700 current and former employees were invited to see and drive some of the most important vehicles, like the first pre-production 'Huey' Series I as well as the last vehicle off the production line, a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top. To make it even more special, there were more than 25 unique vehicles which were driven in a convoy around the Solihul plant. The last Defender, which was also featured in the convoy, has a component that has been used on the Soft Top since 1948, the hood cleat. This vehicle, which is of historic relevance, will be housed in the Jaguar Land Rover’s car museum.
The idea behind the Land Rover Defender was conceived by a simple line drawing on the sand. Through its 68 year life span, the Defender proved to be one of the most rugged and versatile offroad vehicles that could make its way on almost impossible terrains. Land Rover has sold more than two million units of Defender. The body shell of the Series I was made of aluminium, because Britain had a shortage of steel after World War II, but had sufficient aluminium.
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."
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."