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Final Land Rover Defender Rolls Out of Solihull Assembly Plant

Replacement coming in 2018.

Replacement coming in 2018.

After 68 years of continuous production, the final Land Rover Defender, a Legendary Series, has rolled out of the famous Solihull factory in the U.K. To commemorate the event, Land Rover invited over 700 current and former Solihull employees to see and drive some of the most important vehicles in the British brand’s history. The models that current and former employees were able to drive included a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top and the first pre-production “Huey” Series I.

In addition to commemorating the end of the Defender’s production run of nearly seven decades, Land Rover also announced its new Heritage Restoration Program, which will be based on the site of the existing Solihull production facility. There, the automaker will have a team of experts, including employees that worked on the Defender production line, to oversee the restoration of Series Land Rovers sourced worldwide.

“Today we celebrate what generations of men and women have done since the outline for the Land Rover was originally drawn in the sand,” Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr. Ralf Speth said in a release. “The Series Land Rover, now Defender, is the origin of our legendary capability, a vehicle that makes the world a better place, often in some of the most extreme circumstances.”

As part of the Defender Celebration, 25 unique vehicles from Land Rover’s history came together in a procession around the Solihull plant. These included the final Defender that came off the assembly line, which featured a hood cleat, a part that has been used on soft top specifications since 1948. The last production Land Rover Defender will be housed in the Jaguar Land Rover collection.

Since it went into production in 1948, over two million Series Land Rovers and Defenders have been built in Solihull, helping the model become one of the most iconic utility vehicles in the world. Thanks to its impressive off-road capability, the Defender earned the accolade as the most versatile vehicle in the planet. In 2015, the two-millionth Defender produced sold for 400,000, or $568,062 USD.

Originally envisioned as a vehicle for farming and agricultural use, the Series I Land Rover went into production in 1948. In 1958, the Series II debuted with a new design, and engine updates that included a diesel powertrain. By 1966, sales had reached half a million while production peaked in 1971 with 56,000 units. Land Rover introduced the Series III in the 1970s and it continued to sell as well as its predecessors. The Defender name emerged in 1990 when Land Rover’s portfolio now included the Range Rover and the Discovery.

Perhaps the biggest reason for the Defender’s appeal was the number of variants that were created out of a single platform. Everything from fire engines and amphibious cars that floated on water were made out of the Land Rover Defender. Additionally, it became a vehicle that everyone used, from farmers to explorers to royalty.

The end of the Defender’s production doesn’t mean the vehicle won’t have a successor. Early last year, we reported that a next-generation Defender will arrive sometime in 2018, the nameplate’s 70th anniversary. Codenamed L663, the new vehicle will be a departure from its predecessor and will be more of a go-anywhere luxury vehicle offered in at least five body styles.

Source: Jaguar Land Rover