68 years of production came to an end yesterday when the final Land Rover Defender rolled off the production line. Production of the iconic off-roader has ceased due to increasingly stringent emission and safety rules. To celebrate, Land Rover threw an event for 700 current and former employees featuring 25 unique examples spanning its production run.
The final car to leave the production line was a Defender 90 Heritage Soft Top. The car will be retained by the factory for use by VIP’s and on special events. It is the 2,016,933rd and marks a fitting end to Land Rover’s most successful vehicle. From Monday, the engineers and employees involved in the production of the Defender will move to the other side of the factory to produce the Jaguar F-Pace.
Land Rover also announced a new Heritage Restoration Programme for the Defender, to be based at the Solihull production line. It will restore Land Rover Defender’s sourced worldwide and sell them back to customers, the first cars are expected to be ready by July 2016.
Production of the Land Rover Defender began in 1948 when the first model was sold for £450 at the Amsterdam Motor Show. In 1958 the Series II was bought in, selling very well and managing to exceed the 500,000 unit mark by 1966. 1971 saw the introduction of the Series III and by 1990, the Series models had been rebranded the Defender.
The Defender will leave a huge gap in the lives of many Jaguar Land Rover employees. A new Defender used to roll off the production line every four minutes following a 56 man hour build. Hopefully Jaguar Land Rover’s upcoming replacement will keep them busy in years to come!