2,016,932 Land Rover Defenders Have Been Built So Far, And Then This Last One

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

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.

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  • Garak Garak on Jan 31, 2016

    These are useless compared to an UAZ or even a Lada Niva. Too big and fat for swampy terrain, and as bad ergonomically as those Russian lumps.

  • PartsUnknown PartsUnknown on Feb 01, 2016

    What a great run, sad to see the end of the line for these. I owned a '68 IIa for a few years. Driving it was...agricultural, to be kind. But, with the canvas top rolled up and the dog in the back, it was a lot of fun to hit the beach in the summer.

  • Malikknows Malikknows on Feb 01, 2016

    I got issued a brand new one to drive in Bosnia in 1999. I was dismayed by how crappy it was. I had always lusted after them and was heartbroken to find it such an awfully made POS. Handling and ergonomics aside, mine had an air conditioner that leaked water all over the feet of the front seat passenger, and when you shut the vehicle down, it whined for minutes as it decompressed. Amazing. In 1999! The lack of competition to Jeep by either LR or Toyota is interesting to me. I'd snap up a modern FJ40 with Toyota truck quality in a heartbeat. Sorry to see the Defenders go, though, but I'm not at all surprised. For the money they were a terrible vehicle, imho.

  • NeilM NeilM on Feb 01, 2016

    Best Land Rover (and best Queen?) story, from former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sherard Cowper-Coles: "You are not supposed to repeat what the Queen says in private conversation. But the story she told me on that occasion was one that I was also to hear later from its subject - Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia - and it is too funny not to repeat. Five years earlier, in September 1998, Abdullah had been invited up to Balmoral, for lunch with the Queen. Following his brother King Fahd's stroke in 1995, Abdullah was already the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate. Prompted by his Foreign Minister, the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not - yet - allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.

    • VoGo VoGo on Feb 01, 2016

      A. Awesome story! B. Who is NeilM, and why hasn't Mark offered him a column?