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The Last Days Of The Land Rover Defender

By raccars Published

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Land Rover is bidding farewell to its Defender model after more than 60 years in production with a series of events, the latest of which is to open the Solihull factory Defender production line to the public. The plant also houses a new display showing how things would have been there back in 1948, when the first Land Rover Series I kicked off a legend.

The Solihull factory Defender tour opened in January, showing replicas of various models at different production stages, including a basic, white body shell and various beautifully restored vintage examples. Visitors wear replica overalls to tour the factory and can really get a feel for things by clocking in and out, as factory workers in the Forties would have done. A special section of the tour outlines the history of the Land Rover brand and the birth of the original Series I, assisted by some all new, not seen before video footage.

The Solihull plant currently houses over 8,000 staff, 450 of whom are assigned to the Defender production line. Some 500 Defenders roll off the line every week these days, but the factory has been known to produce as many as 1,250 Defenders per week during the car's Seventies hey day.

While the production process has been streamlined over the years, the basic model has changed so little that a door from a 2015 model Defender can be fitted without modification to a 1958 model. Modern Defenders are famous for their amazing go anywhere off roading ability, but the car is technologically old fashioned compared to other well known 4x4s and is being replaced because, according to JLR, it would not be cost effective to make the necessary changes to comply with modern safety regulations, such as the installation of airbags. The current Defender also lags behind other modern 4x4s when it comes to fuel economy and emissions, but the move to axe production has been controversial because the utilitarian Land Rover remains an icon in the motoring world, probably matched only by the Mini for fan loyalty.

However, the Defender's imminent demise should mean that the car's already healthy residual values become even stronger, as those remaining on the road grow even more precious.

The three hour tour costs £45, while for an extra £200, you can have a go off roading on the JLR test site.

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