What's the news?
Your eyes are not deceiving you: here is one last chance to get hold of an 'original' Land Rover Defender, fully two years after production of the old relic ceased. And what a Defender this latest version is - the most powerful, fastest version ever created. OK, it doesn't have very high bars to clear on either of those scores, granted, but still, wait until you read about this thing...
It's called the Land Rover Defender Works V8 70th Edition, which gives away two of its secrets: number one, it is powered by a colossal 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine, when the last production models made do with a 120hp/360Nm 2.2-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder; and two, it has been created to mark 70 years since the original Series I Land Rover launched in 1948. Well, 68 years of service was a strange number to end on, wasn't it?
Externally, it is familiar fare. This is because Land Rover has specially selected and re-engineered 150 Defenders to 'Works V8 70th Edition' specification. That means we've got a mix of 90 (short-wheelbase) and 110 (LWB) body styles, which can further be identified by '70th Edition' badging, 18-inch diamond-turned Sawtooth alloy wheels with 265/65 R18 all-terrain tyres, machined aluminium for the door handles, fuel filler cap and 'Defender' bonnet lettering and bi-LED headlamps. Finish the whole lot off in eight standard body colours with two satin finishes included, and then team it to a contrasting Santorini Black roof, wheel arches and front grille, and voila - one madcap alternative to an AMG-fettled Mercedes G-Wagen.
It's the Defender's familiar bluff and upright dashboard inside, complete with switchgear that hasn't changed much in decades. The 70th Edition V8 benefits from full Windsor Leather interior trim for the aforementioned dash, as well as the door panels, headlining and Recaro sports seats, while Land Rover's own Classic Infotainment System is fitted. You might also notice the pistol-grip gear lever for the automatic gearbox, this being an item you'd find in Jaguar Land Rover's much more modern products.
The 150 Works V8 70th Edition Defenders are powered by a 5.0-litre, normally-aspirated V8 engine, teamed to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission with a Sport mode. The engine delivers 405hp and 515Nm, near-on three-and-a-half times the horsepower the last-of-the-line diesel Defenders made do with. So while its top speed is limited to a modest 170km/h, the Works V8 (as a 90) can nevertheless hit 100km/h from rest in 5.6 seconds or thereabouts. Remarkable.
It was built, not just as a 70th birthday present to Land Rover itself, but also to pay homage to the high-powered engines in the likes of the Series III Stage 1 V8 from 1979, or subsequent Defenders like the 50th Anniversary Edition, which are still sought-after by Land Rover collectors today. And although buyers will have to endure the live axle suspension of the Defender, plus its recirculating ball steering, uprated brakes (335mm front discs, 300mm rear, all gripped by four-piston callipers) and a handling kit (which develops the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars) aim to keep the Defender V8 70th on the road. Apart from, obviously, when owners wish to go off-road. Ahem.
Both 90- and 110-wheelbase Defender Works V8 derivatives will be available to purchase direct from Land Rover Classic and Irish buyers won't get much change from €250,000. Ouch. Furthermore, a select number of high-performance upgrades inspired by the Defender Works V8 will be made available to purchase soon from Land Rover Classic, including power upgrades for the TDCi diesel models, as well as fast-road suspension and braking kits.
Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic director, said: "It's fitting that we've been able to release the full potential of the iconic Defender, whose much-loved shape remains synonymous with Land Rover, 70 years since it was seen in public for the first time. "
"The idea of reintroducing a V8 Defender was something we were discussing as far back as 2014, when we were still building the Defender in Solihull. We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender; the Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collectors' edition Defenders."