2,000,000th Land Rover Defender rolls off production line

  
After 67 years of iconic production, Land Rover has hit two million Defenders.

In celebration of this monumentous feat, a special edition Defender will be unveiled at Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend, it will then do a number of public appearences before heading to auction at Bonhams in December with all proceeds donated to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and the Born Free Foundation.

  A map of Red Wharf bay, where the original Land Rover was drawn in the sand – will be engraved onto a plaque fitted to the aluminium fender. Complementing the plaque is a ‘2,000,000’ badge sitting on the rear of the vehicle. Harking back to the first pre production Land Rover, dubbed ‘Huey’ HUE 166, this special edition Defender will wear ‘S90 HUE’ number plates.  

  Inside, the 2,000,000 badges are carried over, with logos sticthed into the headrests and ‘Red Wharf bay’ graphics adordning the leather seats and a plaque signed by everyone who helped assemble the vehicle is fitted to the driver’s plinthe. 

Dr Ralf Speth, Chief Executive of Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Over 67 years, the Series Land Rover and in turn Defender has been the transport of choice for explorers, charity organisations, farmers and even royalty. 

   
         

Ode to the Defender

942233_RP - Land Rover Defender (4 of 91)RHD

Starting off life as a sketch on a beach in Wales in 1947, one of the greatest off-road vehicles was born. The Land Rover. Originally built to fill a market gap, the Land Rover changed the world in regards to off-road vehicles. In honour of the success of the global brand, Land Rover has released three special editions of the Defender in 90 and 110 guises before production ends in December 2015.

LR_DEF_LE_Heritage_RWB_RHD_070115_05

The Heritage Edition

Inspired by early models and the original Land Rover ‘HUE 166’, it adds modern creature comforts to a vintage design. Distinguished by its special Grasmere Green paint work with contrasting white roof. A heritage grille and HUE 166 graphics also identify the model. It will be made available in showrooms by August in a limited number of 400 examples for the UK with prices starting at £27,800.

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Autobiography Edition

As of late, most SUV owners barely take their car out of the city let alone off-road. Land Rover have taken note and have created the Autobiography model which is said to be more powerful, more luxurious and more comfortable than any other Defender to come before it. Identifiable by its unique duo-tone paint work, windsor leather interior and increased power and torque output. Only 80 of these will be made available in the UK and only in the 90 station wagon guise. Don’t expect to see any of them getting muddy as they start at £61,845.

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Adventure Edition

When Maurice Wilks first created the Land Rover, its sole purpose was to conquer any terrain and the Adventure Edition wants to celebrate that attitude. Fitted with heavy-duty under body protection for the side sills and sump as well as Goodyear MT/R tyres allow the driver to push the boundaries that little bit further. Fitted with a leather interior, unique Adventure decals and three distinct colour variations. The Adventure edition carries the Defender Expedition Roof rack, rear access ladder and is fitted with a snorkel for deep water wading. 600 models will be available in the UK in both 90 and 110 station wagon guises starting at £43,495.

Even though the Defender’s production run will come to a close after 67 years, many of them will be running for generations to come.

Replacing the Land Rover Defender

DC100 & DC100 SPORT
 DC100 & DC100 SPORT

At the heart of everything Land Rover was the Defender. 2015 is the year it is to be replaced after 67 years of production. The question that is on everyone’s lips is how is Land Rover going to make the DC100 concept as popular as the model it is replacing?

Since 1948, when the first Land Rover rolled off the line it was constantly being tinkered with and evolving to make it a better off-road vehicle. 67 years down the line, EU regulations brought down the ‘guillotine’ on the Defenders’ long and illustrious career. Stringent emission regulations to come into force by 2020 have forced Jaguar Land Rover to stop production of the beloved Defender and start work on its replacement.

Throughout the years iconic models have been recreated by all types of manufacturers such as BMW bringing back the Mini, Volkswagen with their beloved Beetle and Fiat with the beautifully small cinquecento or 500. All three of these models were given time to be remembered as cult classics and left as memories in people’s minds before returning as the recreations you see on the road today. The secret to their success, in recreating the cult classics is by giving them a new lease of life but also staying close to what made the original models great. When the Fiat 500 was released in 2007, the new model was not trying to push the original into the shadows. The company embraced its resemblance and used it in a lot of its marketing campaigns.

It is known that Land Rover will be following three pillars for their design strategy; Leisure, luxury and Dual Purpose. Will the Defender replacement fit in to the Leisure pillar or will it fall under the Dual Purpose category?

John Edwards, Global Brand Director for Land Rover said, “The entire Land Rover team is excited about the opportunity, and the responsibility, of creating the replacement for the iconic Land Rover Defender. Loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design, we are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage while meeting the requirements of a changing global market.”

One thing is for sure, the Defender replacement will need to be rugged enough to handle all terrains but also easy enough to fix without having to take it to a professional. That is what made the Defender so great for all these years.The ethos at Land Rover design are based around four key elements for the Defender replacement;

Functionality allowing a new approach to the design and capability of the vehicle but also including clever features that are not usually found in a rugged Defender such as flexible seating.

Sustainability: by using recycled and lightweight materials that ensures the vehicle will survive the test of time also plays back to the original Land Rover where by the company used aluminium which was surplus during war-torn Britain.

Premium Durability: All choices for the DC100 were specifically achieved through attention to detail and after 67 years of evolution by its predecessor.

Desirability: Again after 67 years of production, Land Rover know that the replacement must deliver an ownership experience that will not blow your mind but also be comfortable in all walks of life.

DC100 interior
 DC100 interior

If the DC100 is to follow the concept, we can see that it will be available with an automatic gearbox with most modern luxuries seen on most of the Range Rovers available today, including systems such as ‘wade assist’ which alerts the driver on how deep the water is around the vehicle.

John Edwards, said the new model would be “instantly recognised” by people who drive the current vehicle but it “won’t necessarily be cheap”. Will that sway potential buyers to look at the competition?

The DC100 prototype has two designs, one known as the DC100 sport allowing the owner to actively express freedom and leisure and the DC100 which demonstrates its capability and versatility as an off-road vehicle. These two models will be used for leisure activities along with also the basis to modify for use by armies, Police forces and humanitarian aides. Will it be as successful as the vehicle it is going to replace?

Land Rover: Designed to serve

2013 marked the 65th anniversary of Land Rover, a brand that started as an idea to make something better.

Maurice Wilks, wanted a vehicle that could work as a tractor and an off-road vehicle on his land. At the time, Maurice was the engineering director at British brand Rover. He sketched the basis of his vehicle in the sand on the beach at Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey. Even the logo came about as something traditionally British at the time, the Pilchard tin. The designer’s lunch left a stain on his drawing board which in fact became the Land Rover logo.

Original LR logo
 Original LR logo

Land Rover prides itself in making six models and the fact that two-thirds of all Land Rovers ever made are still in use today.

Defender:

The original Land Rover now known as the Defender will cease after 67 years of production to give way to the predecessor in 2015. In 65 years, the Land Rover Defender has not changed a great deal.

Starting off in 1947 with what was known as the Series I, a prototype was built using the Willys Jeep as a basis. Known as ‘Huey’ with chassis number LR1 and number plate HUE 166 was the first Series I Land Rover to roll off the line. Built entirely out of aluminium alloy which was more readily available than steel after war-torn Britain, also had the added benefit of being lightweight and resistant to corrosion. The car went on sale at the price of £450 and was 80 inches long and only available as an open top utility vehicle. Production started at the Solihull plant in 1948 and hasn’t stopped since.

HUE 166 the First Land Rover
 HUE 166 the First Land Rover

As soon as the Series I was produced, Land Rover worked on making a seven seater model with a body built by Tickford which was used for overseas sales. It was not very popular with the UK market as it was not exempt from Purchase Tax causing it to be more expensive.

Within two years of production, the British Army changed most of their off-road vehicles from the Austin Champ to the Land Rover realising that the cheaper Land Rover could handle the responsibilities of the Champ. Land Rover is now the Army’s go to vehicle for its 4WD capabilities.

By 1950 , sales shot from 1758 to 16,795 vehicles a year. This was the year that Land Rover added selectable 4WD arrangements to the Land Rover allowing the driver to select low ratio and high ratio gearing.  By 1958, the tenth anniversary of the company sales were at 25,000 a year and the Series II was launched. This vehicle had a restyled body with side sills. The engine was enlarged to a 2.2l petrol and a diesel was introduced which was known as the Series IIA.

Series II Land Rover
 Series II Land Rover

The Series III Land Rover was introduced in 1971, for the first time with a synchromesh gearbox and updated aesthetics, however still keeping the basic structure of the original Land Rover. Five years after the Series III was introduced, the one millionth vehicle rolled off the line.

Series III Land Rover
 Series III Land Rover

Certain comforts are expected to be found in most modern vehicles, however it took Land Rover quite some time to start adding basic comforts. These vehicles were used as work horses on the farm as Maurice Wilks intended when he came up with the idea for the Land Rover. But by 1984, those creature comforts began creeping into the system with wind up windows making their first appearance on the new Land Rover 90 based on the length of the vehicle in inches.

Six years later, Land Rover renamed the 90,  Defender after the introduction of the Discovery in 1989. A massive revamp of the interior and tech on the Defender came about in 2007, with things like  mp3 connectivity and a six speed gearbox making more and more of an everyday vehicle which is not only comfortable on a farm but on a busy street as well.

Land Rover Defender
 Land Rover Defender

When the Defender stops production, a new vehicle will take the reins and try to live up to the illustrious career that the original Land Rover has had over 67 years. The concept car that was revealed to the public is known as the DC100 and is similar to the current Defender in many aesthetic aspects.

DC100 concept
 DC100 concept

Discovery:

After Land Rover had made success at both ends of the off-road market, the only other option was to attack the middle and take the entire market share. To protect the Range Rover, The Discovery was marketed as a junior Range Rover to take the place of the original as the new models have been pushed further into the luxury sector. Project ‘Jay’ as it was called was somewhat based on the Range Rover capable of seating seven passengers.

Chris Woodark, Land Rover’s Commercial Director put it simply, “It’s a leisure vehicle not aimed at the luxury sector at all. Discovery, if you like, is for Yuppies and Range Rover is for people who’ve already made it.”

LR Discovery
 LR Discovery

It was launched to the public in 1989 in a three door guise to protect the sales of the Range Rover. The engine was a 2.5L turbocharged, inter-cooled diesel known as the 200Tdi meant to be more economical than the standard V8s.

Five years after its original release, the Discovery was face-lifted in 1994 and started to make a name for itself as the ‘Family 4×4’ proving to be a success among the consumers.

The Discovery managed to break a record in Land Rover’s books by producing more than 100,000 vehicles in less than a year in 1995.

In 2004, Land Rover launched the Discovery 3 which introduced a body frame, a mix between a monocoque and chassis design which was known as hydroforming. New exterior design meant there was a stepped up roof and asymmetrical rear glass giving rear passengers more head room. Power came from a new 2.7L V6 diesel and a 4.4L V8 petrol and independent air suspension was available to give the Discovery a softer ride.

The fourth generation of Land Rover’s ‘Family 4×4’ was unveiled in 2010. As the Range Rover did before it, this new Discovery became more premium in cabin quality and advanced technology used.The LR-TDV6 3.0 twin-turbo diesel and LR-V8 direct-injection petrol engine, which delivered massive improvements in fuel economy and CO2 emissions.

With the previous Discovery having exceptional off-road capability, land Rover had to pull out all the stops to make the new one even better. They did this simply by transforming the on road experience for the driver and improving the impeccable off-road capability by adding in new suspension components, larger brakes, a revised steering rack, better traction control and an improved Terrain Response system.

By 2012, the Discovery was almost as luxurious as its older sibling, the Range Rover now with an eight speed automatic and all the technology you now come to expect on modern luxury vehicles such as voice activation and many others.

The Discovery is still breaking records, this time by beating the time set by an unmodified Fiat Panda driving from London to Cape Town; a total of 10,000 miles in 10 days.

Freelander:

By 1997, all vehicles that Land Rover built became larger and more luxurious, meaning that there wasn’t a specific model for a small off-road leisure vehicle. But to enter this sector, Land Rover not only were ambitious they succeeded. The Freelander, was the first SUV to be built with a monocoque structure and for the 4WD system, the transfer box was removed and a downhill assist known as ‘Hill Descent control’ was added which uses the ABS system to limit braking.

By 2001, the Freelander was not only Europe’s best-selling SUV but it was also the three millionth Land Rover to come off the line in Solihull.

Nine years after the release of the original Freelander, the all new Freelander 2 was born. Engines available for the 2 were either a 3.2L six cylinder petrol or a 2.2L common rail diesel four-cylinder. Tinkering with models happened throughout the course of each and every model of Land Rover and the Freelander was no different. Every year a new piece of technology was added either to aid the driver or the lower the carbon emissions of the vehicle.

LR Freelander 2
 LR Freelander 2