A happy return for the Defender.
LAND Rover is bringing back the Defender to mark the 70th anniversary of the legendary British brand with a limited run of special models powered by a monster V8 engine making them the most powerful - and fastest - versions of the iconic 4x4 ever created.
Two years after Defender production stopped at Land Rover's Lode Lane factory in Solihull, the company has announced 150 specials will be produced by the newlycreated Jaguar Land Rover Classic division. Badged 70th Edition the Defender Works V8 will be priced from PS150,000 and each is destined to become a collectors' item.
With a 5.0-litre normally aspirated engine developing 405ps and 515 Nm of torque, the V8 Defender has a 0 to 60 time of 5.6 seconds and its top speed is restricted to 106mph.
To put that into perspective, the last batch of Defenders built in 2016 topped out at 90mph with a 0 to 60 acceleration of 14.7 seconds. 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 collector's edition Defenders."
The last time Land Rover produced a V8 Defender was in 1998 when a 4.0-litre V8 from the second generation Range Rover was fitted to a limited run of 50th Anniversary Defender 90s, with a four speed automatic transmission.
The new anniversary limited edition model has an eight speed ZF auto box complete with sport mode and uprated brakes, springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, plus 18-inch diamond-turned 'Sawtooth' alloy wheels and 265/65 R18 all-terrain tyres.
Eight standard body colours will be available include two satin finishes - contrasting with a black roof, wheel arches and front grille - and finished with machined aluminium door handles, fuel filler cap and Defender bonnet lettering.
A lighting upgrade includes bi-LED headlamps and the Defender Works V8 will be available in both 90 and 110 wheelbase bodies.
Inside the cabin, leather trim covers the dashboard, door panels, headlining and the Recaro sports seats fitted to the special edition while the Classic's team has created a special iInfotainment system which includes sat nav, phone and USB connections.
While the Defender Works V8 pays homage to the early high-powered engines in the Series III Stage 1 V8 model from 1979 - fitted with a 3.5-litre Rover V8 engine that developed just 90bhp - the Land Rover Classic team is promising a few more Defender treats to mark the anniversary including power upgrades for the TDCi diesel engine, fast-road suspension and braking kits.
The Classic division, based at JLR's Special Vehicle Operations workshops in Coventry, is also working on the restoration of the original launch Land Rover which was first shown at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show.
One of three pre-production vehicles it had been missing for more than 60 years and was recently discovered languishing in a garden just outside Solihull.
An all-new Defender is on the way but details of its release are still to be announced.