Land Rover produces their last Defender
The rugged vehicle that became a British institution has finally reached the end of the road. Driven by everyone from the Queen to the military, farmers and private enthusiasts, the Land Rover Defender was developed from the original Land Rover Series launched way back in 1948. After a continuous run of nearly 70 years, production finally ended in January when the last Defender rolled off the production line in Solihull.
The final Defender was the 2,016,933rd one made and bore the registration plate H166 HUE. This was a reference to the original Huey - the nickname for the first ever pre-production Land Rover and the direct forerunner of the Defender.
The boxy Defender was a practical car in its time and was frequently used as a utility vehicle, whether taking tourists on African safaris or allowing farmers to go off-road through muddy fields in Shropshire.
The Queen's public association dates back to 1951 when, as a mere Princess, she stood in an open-top Land Rover to present the King's Colour to the Royal Air Force at a Hyde Park parade. She has been seen in a Defender many times since on her estates, and the military has also made heavy use of the vehicle. The vehicle got its Defender name in 1990 and has been deployed in numerous theatres, including Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. Its rugged build has helped ensure that around two-thirds of all the Defenders made are still in a driveable condition.
As time moved on, however, many felt that the Defender failed to evolve as it should have, and the end, when it came, was certainly not unexpected. Motoring journalist Quentin Wilson said: The world has changed. We don't have the same needs as in the post-war era when it was developed.
Wilson described the car's run as the "longest continuous production of a vehicle in the world, surpassing the VW Beetle", and said it was a success story. Adding that Rover jet engineers had a hand in the original design, he said: As an invention, it is really quite brilliant."
"With some 70% of Land Rovers ever built still around we will still be able to cuddle them and see them on the road. And while we can shed a tear, there are still lots and lots of Land Rovers," he added.
Warwickshire and West Midlands Land Rover Club (WWMLRC) secretary Simon Collins described the end of the vehicle as the death of an icon, and he certainly wasn't alone in his passion for the Defender. A tour to see the last Defenders to be made at the Solihull factory drew 10,000 visitors over the past year.
While the Defender as we know it is no more, Jaguar Land Rover are currently working on a next-generation successor. Autocar suggests that the new Defender is unlikely to be available until at least 2019. It reported that one source had mentioned seeing a car in 2018 but that this was more likely to be the unveiling date for a close-to-completion concept car.