End of an Era: The Last Land Rover Defender Rolls Off Assembly Line
68 Years of 4x4 History
After 68 years of production in Solihull, England, and recently building the 2,000,000 Defender, the last of the current Land Rover Defenders was built, marking a storied history of this capable, stout, and popular 4x4. In honor of this historic day, Land Rover invited more than 700 current and former employees to take part in the celebration, allowing them to see and drive some of the most important vehicles in its history, including the first preproduction Series 1, named “Huey,” and the last one to be built a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top.
The celebration at the Solihull location saw more than 25 unique vehicles form Land Rover’s fantastic history on a procession around the plant led by the final current Defender. The last Defender includes a part that has been used on vehicle production since its inception, the hood cleat. This Defender will be housed in the Jaguar Land Rover collection after the festivities conclude.
With a storied history that began with a drawing in the sand, we’re sad to see production of this off-road machine end but ecstatic to see that Land Rover will restore old Defenders from all over the world in the company’s new Heritage Restoration Program. The Heritage program will feature Defender experts that will take well-worked Defenders and restore them to their former glory at the same location they were built in Solihull. These refreshed Rovers will go on sale in July of this year.
Fun Facts About the Series Land Rover/Defender
-The original Series I Land Rover cost £450 in 1948. It was powered by a four-cylinder 1.6L engine with just 50 hp.
-Since 1948, 2,016,933 Series Land Rovers and Defenders have been built on the production line at Solihull.
-It takes 56 man-hours to build each Defender.
-A new Defender rolls off the production line every four minutes.
-Over 10,000 Land Rover owners and visitors from all over the world have visited the Defender Celebration Line, which recreates the original 1948 production line, in just 12 months since it opened.
-Famous owners include the Queen, Sir Winston Churchill, and actor Steve McQueen.
-The world-famous Land Rover Experience operation brought a new dimension and adventure to 4x4 ownership when it was formed in 1990, taking over from the Demonstration Team that had been set up by Roger Crathorne to show the exceptional talents of the vehicle around the world.
-The Defender became a movie star when it was featured heavily in the film Born Free (1966) about the story of Elsa the Lion. Defenders are still used today by the Born Free Foundation and its founder, Virginia McKenna OBE, and her son, Will Travers OBE, who both fit parts to Defender 2,000,000.
-Two original parts have been fit to all Soft Top Series Land Rovers and Defenders since 1948: the hood cleats and the underbody support strut.
-With about 7,000 parts, it takes 56 hours to hand build every Defender, compared to 48 hours to build a Land Rover Discovery Sport.
-Associates have their own nicknames for parts of the vehicle: the door hinges are known as “pigs ears” and the dashboard is the “lamb’s chops.”
Sources: Newspress, Land Rover