It’s one of the most recognised products on the planet, but the classic Land Rover Defender is fast heading towards extinction, after 67 years as a 4X4 icon.
The final deadline for last orders for the Defender was June 30, and production will cease at the Lode Lane production facility in December, allowing the company to re-tool in readiness for the all-new, and only second-generation model.
The Defender nameplate has been around since 1983 – before that it was known simply as a Land Rover. In all, over two million have been produced since 1948, when the Series I arrived.
It soon became a must-have addition on English farms before spreading to most of the world’s 195 individual countries, where an estimated 75 per cent of Land Rovers and Land Rover Defenders are still running.
At one time, exports accounted for over 80 per cent of production, requiring the company to manage a global network of 41 production plants – including several in Australia.
In its heyday, production peaked at 50,000 in 1971, but over the years, competition from the myriad of more modern and more efficient SUVs has reduced that number to around 14,000 vehicles sold (2014).
Global safety requirements and ever-tightening emissions regulations have meant the end of an era for the iconic Land Rover Defender that will make way for a completely new design.
That said, with the end of production clearly in sight, sales are up around 15 per cent globally – including in Australia – as enthusiasts and fashionistas alike scramble to secure their very own automotive icon.
Jaguar Land Rover Australia has pared the Defender range to just four variants for 2015 (down from eight in 2014), though, according to Senior Public Affairs Spokesperson James Scrimshaw, there are around 130 limited editions in the mix – including the Heritage and Adventure versions in Grasmere Green and G4-style orange paints, matching historic versions of the past.
According to Scrimshaw, there is still no arrival date for the new Defender, as next cab off the Land Rover rank will be the replacement for the Discovery 4.