Since 1948, more than two million of the tough off-roader have been built, all following in the wheeltracks (and digressing very little) of the the first Land Rover Series I built at Solihull, affectionately dubbed Huey.
The Land Rover Series I story begins in post-war Britain, at a time when steel was still relatively scarce, but aluminium - surplus to the aviation war effort - was plentiful.
An initial design was penned, at the time nothing more than a drawing in the sand, but soon developed into one of the most enduring vehicles in automotive history.
The Series II debuted in 1958, bringing with it a diesel engine that would be used well into the 1980s. In 1971, the Series III was introduced with 56,000 units built marking peak production for the model.
From 1983 Land Rover began to introduce the 90, 110 and 127 monikers, but, in 1990, the Defender name appeared to unify the range. During the 1990s a series of engine upgrades saw the Defenders open-road driveability improve.
in 2007 tightening emissions and safety legislation saw engines overhauled again, and the dash, which had been unchanged since 1983, was replaced with an all-new design to better incorporate modern safety features. Inward facing seats were replaced with forward facing seats in line with European regulations.
In 2015 Defender number 2,000,000 rolled down the line, fitted with a variety of commemorative features, and was auctioned for charity, raising £400,000 (A$800,000).
The final Defender to leave Solihull harks back to the original, a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top, and was accompanied by the announcement that the Solihull facility would be home to Land Rover’s new Heritage Restoration Programme.
The programme will see dedicated staff, including former line workers, engaged in restoring and rebuilding original Series Land Rovers from around the globe.
"Today we celebrate what generations of men and women have done since the outline for the Land Rover was originally drawn in the sand.” Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover said.
“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.”
Land Rover has announced that it is working to develop a replacement for the Defender, but aside from the DC100 concepts, which received a lukewarm response from the Defender faithful, little is known about the vehicle that will carry on the Defender’s rugged reputation.
Check out the production journey of the final Defender in the build video below.
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