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End of the line — last Land Rover Defender rolls off into the sunset

ALL good things, it is said, must come to an end.

Land Rover’s evergreen Defender, like Elvis, has left the building, with the last unit rolling off the production line last Friday, bringing a 68-year production run to a close.

The model has built a loyal following around the world from fans that appreciated its almost unrivalled all-terrain ability.

But with ever-tightening crash safety standards imposed around the world, the boxy Defender became a victim of its agricultural looks and simple approach to go anywhere driving.

Seven hundred Solihull employees past and present assembled to welcome the final Defender, which was a short-wheelbase 90 Heritage soft top wearing the same paint tone and soft top colour combination as the very first Series I Land Rover. It will not be sold for a place in the Jaguar Land Rover Collection has been reserved for it.

Speaking at the event at the Solihull, England plant, Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth said: “The Series Land Rover, now Defender, is the origin of our legendary capability, a vehicle that makes the world a better place, often in some of the most extreme circumstances.

“There will always be a special place in our hearts for Defender, among all our employees, but this is not the end. We have a glorious past to champion, and a wonderful future to look forward to.”

The Defender was introduced in 1983 in multiple different bodystyles and two wheelbase lengths 90 and 110, but it can trace its bloodline back through three series of the Land Rover, to the original Series I that changed the direction of all-terrain vehicles in 1948.

“The world has changed dramatically in the last 68 years, but this vehicle has remained a constant – something no other vehicle can claim,” Speth said. “The last of the current Defender models embraces the vehicle’s simplicity, honesty and charm – it represents its Series Land Rover heritage.”

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