Land Rover Recreates 1948 Series I Production Line at Solihull Plant
Visitors Can Tour “Defender Celebration Line,” Commemorating Final Year of SUV’s U.K. Production
As Land Rover continues to celebrate the “Year of Defender,” it has recently opened a new visitor attraction at the Solihull manufacturing plant that will produce the SUV until the end of the year. The exhibit is an accurate replica of the production line that built Land Rover’s first model, the Series I. Visitors see replica Series Is in various states of production, built using the same parts and in the same way as the original Series I.
Phil Bashall was called on to help create the vehicles featured on the replica line. Bashall curates the Dunsfold Collection, a charity dedicated to the preservation of Land Rovers. Bashall sourced some original parts to build the vehicles from his own collection of nuts and bolts, but he also needed to exact a long search for everything the exhibit would need. Local craftsmen created replica frames and aluminum body panels, and Bashall and his master mechanic built the five “disassembled” Series I trucks over the course of five weeks.
The attraction is incorporated into the “Defender Celebration Line,” a factory tour of the production line that builds the SUV. The Defender is produced in one of the original buildings at the Solihull factory, meaning the Defender has a quite tangible link to its Series I predecessor beyond its excellent capability and rugged styling.
The Defender factory tour starts in the body shop, showing how the bodies are manufactured before being shipped to paint. The tour continues to final assembly, where visitors watch Land Rover technicians lower the engine and gearbox onto the chassis, before assembling the painted body panels and affixing them to the frame.
The tour’s first visitors, the Writtle family, are huge Defender enthusiasts, owning 11 between them. They will soon add a Heritage limited edition Defender to their stable, something that makes this author very jealous.
“We were amazed at how little the Defender manufacturing process has changed in the last six decades, with individual craftsmanship still at the heart of each vehicle produced,” a member of the family said.
With less than one year left in the Defender’s production (in the U.K. at least), we really hope we have the opportunity to tour the home of this legendary vehicle. If you find yourself looking to kill three hours in Solihull, check out the tour and let us know how awesome it is.
Source: Land Rover