The last Land Rover Defender rolled off the line Friday at the Solihull, UK facility, according to the automaker.
The wildly uncomfortable, loud and grandfather to all Land Rovers will live on, albeit in name only — the next-generation Defender is already in the works.
The final Land Rover Defenders shared two common parts with the first Series Land Rover, according to the automaker: the hood cleats and underbody support strut. Which is two parts more than I expected would have survived from the originals.
Like the Willys Jeep, the Series I Land Rover was borne out of military surplus and barn-door aerodynamics. And like Jeep, Land Rover spins the thin thread back to the original. The Defender changed significantly in 1990, and the original Series I, II and III models were updated significantly in the 1980s to become the 90, 110 and 130s. Not much on a Jeep is the same from 1941.
But reality has a way of spoiling nostalgia, so let’s forget all that — and the fact that the new Defender will probably look a helluva lot like the old one — and celebrate the last Defender off the line at Solihull.
It’s unclear where the new Defender will be made — either in Slovakia or Austria. The last production line at Solihull will become a heritage line for a handful of workers to restore older Land Rovers.
The end of Solihull is almost certainly the beginning for the new Defender’s almost-certain future in North America and other big SUV markets going forward. The timing probably couldn’t be any better for JLR.