By on October 10, 2013

800px-1948_Land_Rover_80_Tickford_Estate_Heritage_Motor_Centre,_Gaydon

After 67 years in production, and more than two million produced, many of which are still in severe use, late in 2015 the last Land Rover Defender will roll off the assembly line at Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant. JLR says that the Defender’s demise is because it won’t meet new fuel emissions rules in the EU and cannot be adapted to do so. A replacement model is planned, to be launched in 2016. Land Rover has previously teased the DC100 concept as a possible Defender replacement. John Edwards, who is in charge of product at JLR, said that the Defender’s replacement will be “instantly recognized” by fans of the current Defender, but that it “won’t necessarily be cheap”.

It hasn’t always been called the Defender.

That nameplate was added in the 1990s as Land Rover expanded its lineup beyond what was then called the Land Rover 90 or 110, depending on the wheelbase, and the plusher Range Rover. In 1948, when the Rover company introduced its first off-road capable vehicle, said to be inspired by American military jeeps, it was simply called the Land Rover and it wasn’t plush. It was, however, a very capable vehicle that could traverse the most challenging terrain that a four wheel vehicle might ever see. The Land Rover developed a reputation as the prototypical go-anywhere vehicle.

JLR said that the decision to kill off the Defender was “mainly legislation based,” that stricter EU emissions standards by 2020 created “certain conditions the Defender just won’t meet.” The Defender isn’t cheap to make because it doesn’t share much with other JLR products and assembly is relatively labor intensive.

Ironically, a market segment that the original Land Rover helped create, the SUV, has passed it by. Though popular with UK farmers, the Defender is just a bit too rustic for the leather and piano black set.

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48 Comments on “Land Rover Defender Production to End in 2015. Stricter EU Emissions Rules Blamed....”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    Too bad , the end of an era for sure .

    My Uncle (R.I.P. Uncle Bill) bought an Land Rover 90 in the early 1960’s , I remember riding in it all over New England .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Defender90

      That would have been an 88 – the 90 wasn’t made before the early 1980s and has all round coils, discs and permanent 4×4. The 88″… doesn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        “it tends to be institutions that buy them. . .” Some pigs are more equal.

        • 0 avatar
          Defender90

          Well err, I meant the armed forces, big farms, tree surgery companies, companies like that.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            The latter two at least have to make a business case. And in other countries the Defender prices and depreciates like a pickup truck – its not the rare, more expensive than when new icon Americans have made of it. So somewhere like a farm a business case could be made. But often the governments that heavily stress conservation find big trucks to their liking when the taxpayer foots the gas bill. Lots of cops and DHS that would be fine in Cruzes are rolling Tahoes in the US.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    I wonder if they have ever announced a final emissions goal.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “A replacement model is planned, to be launched in 2016. Land Rover has previously teased the DC100 concept as a possible Defender replacement. John Edwards, who is in charge of product at JLR, said that the Defender’s replacement will be ‘instantly recognized’ by fans of the current Defender, but that it ‘won’t necessarily be cheap’.”

    That the current generation of Defender will end has been known for a long time (obviously at least since the release of the DC100 concept). The heading made it sound like that replacement had been cancelled. I expect the replacement to be an LR2 with boxier styling, not a true BOF live axle replacement, so in a sense the Defender will be dying. But the model is not being killed.

    Another question, why is an Indian company letting a shrinking auto market that is already eclipsed by China and America as individual countries, before even considering the entire Asia and Americas markets, determine its product mix? I think the correct answer is that it is not. LR just cannot justify producing a vehicle so much different than its other vehicles, no matter what, and it just wants a scape goat “It’s the mean old government that took away your BOF live axle version of the Defender, not our internal bean counters.”

    • 0 avatar
      LBJs Love Child

      Bingo.

      I’m calling “BS” on Land Rover/Jaguar/Tata.

    • 0 avatar
      Defender90

      “…why is an Indian company letting a shrinking auto market that is already eclipsed by China and America as individual countries, before even considering the entire Asia and Americas markets, determine its product mix? I think the correct answer is that it is not.”

      I reckon they aiming at the newly blingy rich middle classes in those countries.

  • avatar
    Garak

    The Defender is one of those vehicles almost everybody loves, but very few people buy – and for good reason. Maybe it’s time to put it finally to rest.

    • 0 avatar
      Defender90

      No you see them around on the roads. Admittedly it tends to be institutions that buy them new rather than people as there is still a need for a no holds barred utility vehicle.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “…and assembly is relatively labor intensive.”

    It’s hard to teach people to screw in screws 87% the way.

    I just don’t get however, how it can’t be altered to meet standards. It’s old and simple. Have you got a small diesel engine from something else, or the LR2? Okay, pop that in there.

    Edit: The interior is absolute rubbish – time for it to go.

    http://www.caricos.com/cars/l/land_rover/2012_land_rover_defender/1024×768/13.html

    It doesn’t even have an airbag. Or a built-in place for anything. And look at the finish on the rubber liner on the passenger side parcel shelf. Ugh.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    In the 50s, 60s and even 70s, all one would see in the most rugged outbacks of Africa, the Middle East and Australia were Land Rover Defenders.

    Now that spot has been taken away by Toyota

  • avatar
    rnc

    My brother had a late 50’s 90 and a (think early) 60’s 110, damn they were cool, even with having a four speed, with four speed overdrive, couldn’t go over 40-45mph, but made rowing your own a fun experience, he couldn’t resist the temptation presented by moving them up a few states and the application of some steal wool and spray paint that allowed him to sell them for 2-3x what he paid a month later and put that into a rock crawling, sbc, LC.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Back then they were 88″ and 109″. The 90″ and 110″ wheelbases came much later. I *think* at the same time they went from leaf springs to coil springs, though I am too lazy to look it up.

      I learned to drive on a RHD diesel Series II 109 Station Wagon. Belonged to my uncle, and I was ~13 at the time. With the 4 cylinder diesel it would eventually make its way to a VERY loud 50mph. He later had a 6 cyl Series III 109 with overdrive that actually would do highways speeds. Though ‘comfort’ is not a word with any relation to Series Rovers.

      I have owned a basket case SIII 88 that I never got entirely road legal, but had some fun in the woods with. And now an ’01 Range Rover which is an entirely different kettle of fish. Sad to see the old warhorses put down, there is nothing quite like a Land Rover, warts and all.

      • 0 avatar
        Defender90

        Yes correct, the 90/110 denotes the start of the Defender type using the coil sprung permanent 4×4 tech originally used in the first Range-Rover.
        I’ve had my fill of the old leaf sprung “Jeep” type Series L-R with the back suspension and unreliable drum brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        “Back then they were 88″ and 109″. The 90″ and 110″ wheelbases came much later.”

        Ah, time for the annoying pedant. The Land Rover 110 actually started production in 1966. It was called the Series IIB.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      His first looked just like the one in the picture, generator instead of alternator (and yes I remember the 109″ wheelbase now), with the headlights inset (the second had inside and outside, which I believe was a modification, along with a full suite of working gauges from an airplane), got both of them from old farmers in Georgia, I went with him both times, he being determined to drive them back to new york, didn’t make it out of south carolina either time before calling and waiting for U-haul to bring a truck and trailer (didn’t break down, just the driving 40mph in those things for long distances gets old, fast), unmodified, he lived in the country surronded by rolling pastures and such, they were quite capable and fun, and once low and locked went through anything really. The decision to go LC was based on the price of bringing one back to glory using reproduced parts was ungodly expensive (I still have to book from a company, that except for the frame, you can build one from ground up)

      • 0 avatar
        Defender90

        I doubt if it was “just” like in the pic, as that one is the incredibly rare Tickford model of the already rare Series1.
        Your uncle probably had an earlier Series 2 I’d guess, and yes driving long distance does indeed get old fast. That said my diesel (even slower) models got up to 55 mph even without overdrive and I drove accross Spain, France and the UK on numerous trips, so it sounds like your uncles 2.3 petrol was needing some love.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I didn’t even know they still made these, hopefully the replacement will do it justice rather than be some hair stylists inspired joke.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The gods must be crazy.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Why not just do as AM General does to get around emissions issues.

    See C-series.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      AM General military contractor fat on MRAP contracts and doing the C-Series as a cool pet project.

      Land Rover/Range Rover is a very image concious luxury consumer brand. LR probably feels that it has to kill the current Defender to protect the Land Rover brand.

      Because otherwise it would be cool to see the current Defender continue on either as an Indian built Tata branded truck, or sold off to a niche company that offers it as a engineless chassis/body (e.g. Caterham taking over the Seven from Lotus).

      • 0 avatar
        Defender90

        Image, yes you are correct.

        “Land Rover/Range Rover is a very image concious luxury consumer brand. LR probably feels that it has to kill the current Defender to protect the Land Rover brand.”

        It might well be that L-R see the Defender as an anomaly in their luxury soft roader brand aimed at suburbanites, but I would strongly argue that they need one “halo” off roader in their line up.
        One big reason Range-Rover became a luxury brand in the first place was because it came from a firm that made proper country vehicles, when soldiers, farmers and aid workers are no longer seen in Land-Rovers then sooner or later people will notice that L-Rs are just big expensive cars driven by city folks who don’t get their shoes dirty.

        The the “brand” is living on borrowed time, and with the death of the Defender it’s only a matter of time before somebody shouts the Emperor is wearing no clothes.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          When Ford owned LR it made sense to squeeze LR into RR’s luxury territory. Ford had the regular trucks covered globally. But now that Tata owns LR it makes sense to spread the brands back out. RR for the high luxury, made and developed in Britain, and LR as global distribution of an updated an line of real trucks developed and manufactured by Tata in India.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Hopefully the replacement can be updated and modernized while still maintaining at least some of the capabilities and appeal of the original.

    Jeep seems to have done a reasonable job of this with the current Wrangler – and they seem to sell well enough – so there is no reason to think that Land Rover can’t do the same.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Well, all good things must come to an end. That seems as good a time as any to stop production of the classic Defender. It’s not as though Land Rover could just produce them forever…

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Even though they have their flaws, indifferent fit and finish and Lucas Prince of darkness electrics. The powertrain is rugged and the aluminum bodies never rot.

  • avatar
    hawox

    this is an iconic car, i drove it but never liked. it’s a base that can be used to prepare a specialistic vehicle. i’ve alwais thought that suzuki jimny and vitara are cheaper and better buildt. the nissan patrol is more confortable and reliable, toyota land cruiser and mercedes G class have better offroad capabilities.
    but the defender is cool.
    and the fact it’s going is a sign of how this euro rules tend to flatten all the cars.
    in europe it seems that all the cars are alike, exept 300 000$ supercars that no normal ppl can buy the other ones can be recognized only by the badge.
    even a 60bhp minicar must have stability control, it’s idiotic. the only subcompact aspirated “sporty car” left is the suzuki swift.
    now they’re taking away old school offroad.
    sorry but is better to save money than spend on a wheeled houseold appliance.

  • avatar
    7402

    The old series LRs were basically farm tractors with license plates and an optional heater. Sure you could almost get to highway speeds if you had an overdrive, but anything over 40 was downright scary.

    Series Land Rover, CJ5 Jeep, Toyota Land Cruiser. These were all iconic vehicles that put the “U” in what became SUV.

    But, yeah, give me something that will cruise the interstates AND take me off road when I need to. Hell, it’s 2013.

    I’m hoping the replacement evokes more of the series LRs than the concept does (looks like a bastardized Toyota FJ) at a Jeep Wrangler price point and it will sell.

  • avatar
    360joules

    Keeping an early 1960s Defender running in Oregon in the early 80’s was an exercise in patience and creativity for my stepfather in the era before the internet. He had done a cash & trade deal with a neighbor, selling our Land Cruiser 55 series, which began to show signs of corrosion after 3 years in a part of the US that does not use road salt. Curiously, the major electrical bits worked well.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    The regulations have nothing to with the demise of the Defender. The issue is that starting from early 90s, Land Rover re-branded itself from a maker of tough off-road vehicles into a brand that builds luxury SUVs for dentists, lawyers, actors, and basketball players.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I presume emissions means fuel consumption in this case. I really hate that the word now has multiple meanings in the automotive context.

  • avatar
    Defender90

    Many very accurate and incisive comments here. (Although quite a number of you don’t know the difference between a Defender and the old, stone age Series L-Rs, for shame. Are you car guys/girls, or what?)

    I would strongly argue that Land-Rover need one “halo” off roader in their line up because sweat has a certain “glamour” to soft city folk. Every office worker believes he could be a tough lumberjack, if soldiers, farmers and aid workers are no longer seen in Land-Rovers then sooner or later people will notice that L-Rs are just big expensive cars driven by city folks who don’t get their shoes dirty.

    The “brand” is living on borrowed time, and with the death of the Defender it’s only a matter of time before somebody shouts the Emporer is wearing no clothes.
    Already the Range-Rover is becoming a rare sight in the British countryside – the local rich farmer? He drives an XC90. And the local aristocrat with an old family name well known in New York and UK? He bumps around his estate in slightly faded 1960s Land-Rover.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “I would strongly argue that Land-Rover need one “halo” off roader in their line up…”

      Agreed – the Land Rover brand is built on the promise of off road capability. If they give this up, they can coast a while on their image but after a while the brand will have no reason to exist.

      I think Jeep has done a good job of this – the Wrangler is capable off road, and has a strong enthusiast following who like to use them off road regularly. Even though the more plush Grand Cherokee goes off road less often, it is possible to order it with skid plates, a two speed transfer case, etc., so it is fairly capable. Even though many customers won’t use these capabilities it is important to offer them as it helps define the brand, and differentiate them from other SUVs.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Militaries are buying up G Wagens.

    In Australia our Military used 110s and 130s, now they are replaced by the Mercedes.

    Toyota 76 Series we have with a V8 diesel is a much more reliable and better performer.

    Land Rover made some really good stuff. But they didn’t modernise enough.

    A diesel midsizer will do much of what a LR could do as well.

    You just have to think which is the more comfortable to use.

    • 0 avatar
      Defender90

      Defenders are waaay more modern than the Jap stuff and have been for while: Permanent 4×4, all round discs, long travel coils on live axles all on a big beefy box section chassis. I’m not aware of any Jap stuff in the EU market that matches all that…
      Maybe you get better models in Oz? Because Jap pickups here still use LEAF SPRINGS on the back end!

      V8 diesel though… yeah that’s big plus, although the bean counters in charge of buying fleets wouldn’t like the fuel economy methinks. Hence why the new Defenders have been using 2.2 Ford Transit engines for the last few years.

      G Wagen is a class act, can’t argue with it but a little on the heavy side and it rusts of course.

  • avatar
    hawox

    jap pickups are the standard in professional use. and i think a stock land cruiser or nissan with 2 locking difs aren’t inferior to a stock defender with 1 locking dif.
    a small suzuki thanks to its light weight in some condition isn’t that far from a standard land. and is more reliable, at least from my experience of a 20 y/o vitara and nearly new def 110.
    the land rover can be greatly upgraded with many accessories that’s the point.


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