Production of the Land Rover Defender ceased in Solihull on Friday and brought to a close more than 67 years of history. The last model in the Land Rover series originally launched in 1948 rolled off the production line at the West Midlands factory at about 09:20.
Maker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) said the vehicle was the 2,016,933rd Land Rover to be built at Solihull. The vehicle was a soft-top 4×4 Heritage 90. The vehicle features a special numberplate, H166 HUE, in homage to the original Series I model which was nicknamed the Huey.
This iconic Land Rover would probably fetch a fortune among collectors, but JLR says it is going straight into the company’s portfolio of heritage vehicles. The company says some employees at the Solihull plant will be redeployed on a heritage vehicle unit to offer restoration services for the countless Land Rovers still in existence.
Nick Rogers is the engineering-director at JLR and he said the auto-maker now faced the challenge of creating a new Defender suited to the needs of modern motorists. Although a favourite with everybody from farmers to James Bond and royalty, the chunky design of the old Land Rover Defender had lost favour with 21st century drivers.
Auto-industry analysts had long-predicted the demise of production at Solihull. Series I Land Rovers were originally launched after the end of WWII and were supposed to be a stopgap while the manufacturer got on its feet again. Some assembly workers on the production line say up to five generations of their families have built Land Rovers over the past seven decades.