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The last Land Rover Defender to be produced rolled off the production line in Solihull UK on 29 January 2016. The vehicle was a special heritage limited edition 90 soft top, similar to the first Land Rover produced in 1948 a Series 1 80" soft top HUE166. Since 1948, 2,016,933 Series Land Rovers and Defenders have been built on the production line at Solihull. To mark the occasion Land Rover invited more than 700 current and former Solihull employees involved in the production of Series Land Rover and Defender vehicles to see and drive some of the most important vehicles from its history, including the first pre-production 'Huey' Series I as well as the last vehicle off the production line, a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top.
The Defender Celebration in Solihull saw more than 25 unique vehicles from Land Rover's history come together in a procession around the Solihull plant, featuring the final current Defender vehicle off the line. Land Rover associates were joined by a number of previous employees from the past 68 years to help celebrate this historic day. The last of the current Defender vehicles includes an original part that has been used on Soft Top specifications since 1948 - the hood cleat. The vehicle will be housed in the Jaguar Land Rover Collection. The replacement for the Defender was revealed in 2011, named DC100 concept, this vehicle is now expected in 2018 or 2019.
More than two million Series Land Rovers and Defenders have been built in Solihull, UK since 1948. What began as simply a line drawing in the sand has gone on to become one of the world's most iconic 4x4s, earning the accolade of being the most versatile vehicle on the planet, capable of taking owners to the places other vehicles couldn't reach. In 2015, a unique milestone Defender - the 'Defender 2,000,000' sold for a record £400,000 - a far cry from the original £450 the first Land Rover sold for at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.
In 1948, the Series I went into full production at Solihull. Post-war Britain was struggling with a shortage of steel, though aluminium was in plentiful supply for the bodyshells and the country had vast manufacturing capacity. Inspiration came from Spencer and Maurice Wilks, two brothers who had helped return the Rover Company back into profitability during the 1930s. They had devised the Land Rover as a vehicle primarily for farming and agricultural use. They could not have predicted the global impact their vehicle would have.
Changes followed and in 1958 the Series II brought about a new design and engine updates, including an advanced diesel engine which remained in service until the mid-1980s. Sales had reached half a million by 1966, while annual production peaked in 1971 with 56,000 units. During the 1970s, the Series III continued to sell as well as its predecessor, a testament to its enduring appeal.
The vehicle earned a new name in 1990 - Defender. By this time, the Land Rover portfolio included the Range Rover and the newly-launched Discovery. A new name was fitting for a vehicle previously only referred to by its wheelbase length and Series number.
Part of the Land Rover's appeal came from the endless variants that were created off the basic platform, including models as diverse as fire engines, lorry-like Forward Control vehicles, cherry pickers and even an amphibious car capable of floating on water. Over its 68 year history, it has been a vehicle driven by everyone from farmers and famous explorers, to royalty.
For many Defender owners the vehicle has become part of the family, just as on the Solihull production lines where that same family bond has been forged over the years by the workforce.
Tim Bickerton, aged 55, has 40 years' service with Land Rover having started as an apprentice, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Charlie and father Peter, who clocked up 35 and 30 years respectively working on the same line, both progressing to foreman. Tim was followed by his daughter Jade, aged 25 who worked on logistics and materials for the Defender, before recently moving to another area within JLR. Then last year his 23 year old son Scott became the fifth member of the family to work on the Defender.
The three hotly anticipated limited edition Defender models celebrate a different element of the vehicle's versatile character.
"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," said Nick Rogers, Land Rover Vehicle line director. "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."
The exclusive Autobiography Edition provides more comfort, equipment and performance than any previous model. Its unique combination of interior and exterior features and special paint palette guarantee to make the Autobiography the most desirable Defender ever produced. The production run will be limited to 80 vehicles in the UK and the Autobiography will be available exclusively in the iconic 90 Station Wagon bodystyle. This edition was not readily available in South Africa, indicative pricing in the UK was from £61,845.
A power upgrade from 122PS to 150PS guarantees performance will live up to the promise of its eye-catching looks and exclusive appearance. Striking duo-tone paintwork is the most obvious of the Autobiography's unique features, but the most desirable Defender ever built includes a host of tasteful additions.
The Heritage Edition evokes the history of the Defender as a modern interpretation of the famous HUE 166 Land Rover - the first pre-production Series I vehicle, nicknamed 'Huey', which dates back to 1947. Traditionalists will appreciate the Grasmere Green metallic paintwork, Alaska White roof, heritage style grille, headlamp surrounds and heavy-duty steel wheels. Other nostalgic additions include the silver front bumper with black end caps while clear indicator lenses and Indus Silver door hinges also set the Heritage Edition apart. Body-coloured wheel arches and mudflaps bearing the Heritage logo also feature.
Externally, the finishing touch comes in the shape of aluminium heritage style badging to the front grille and rear bodywork, which is inspired by the designs fitted to the Series I and II models. Evocative HUE 166 graphics also adorn the front wing panels.
While the exterior pays homage to the earliest Land Rovers, the Heritage Edition features a host of modern creature comforts and luxurious finishes inside. They include perforated leather outer steering wheel rim and gear lever, Bright Aluminium trim for the air vents, door handles and door locks, and Almond Resolve Cloth seat facings bearing the heritage logo and detailed with HUE 166 tags. Durable rubber floor mats and a padded cubby box between the front seats ensure the Heritage Edition is as functional as it is distinctive.
Heritage Edition models will be available in both 90 and 110 bodystyles, but with a total production run of only 400 vehicles in the UK the distinctive limited edition is sure to be a highly sought-after addition to the line-up. Land Rover Defender 90 Heritage Edition R 605 500, Land Rover Defender 110 Heritage Edition R 667 300
The Defender has helped to establish Land Rover's credentials as the expedition vehicle of choice and the Adventure Edition is designed for customers who want to explore. To enhance the Defender's already impressive off-road credentials, the Adventure Edition features distinctive new underbody protection for the side sills and engine sump, while Goodyear MT/R tyres promise to make the most of whatever grip is on offer.
The Adventure Edition comes in choice of three striking metallic colour options, which include Corris Grey, Yulong White and Phoenix Orange. All feature contrasting Santorini Black paint for the Adventure grille and its surround, the bonnet, roof and rear door, plus the headlamp surrounds and wheel arches. All Adventure Editions feature the Defender Expedition Roof Rack, Snorkel and Rear Access Ladder, whilst the 90 Station Wagon versions also feature the 150ps power upgrade seen on the Autobiography Edition. Seven-inch LED projector headlamps, clear front indicators and new Gloss Black split-spoke diamond-turned alloy wheels also distinguish the expedition-inspired model. The front wings feature 90 and 110 decals.
The focus is firmly on comfort inside, where the Adventure Edition promises to provide high quality shelter from the elements. Premium seats with Windsor Leather upholstery, perforated leather inserts and contrast stitching all add a touch of luxury. They are complemented by the leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever and Bright Aluminium interior trim. High quality Windsor Leather also features on the passenger facia and instrument panel while leather trim on the doors and grab handles, Ebony headlining and bespoke carpet mats complete the look.
Land Rover Defender 90 Adventure Edition R 658 300, Land Rover Defender 110 Adventure Edition R 704 700