The last Land Rover Defender has rolled off the production line in Solihull amid cheers, ending an incredible 67 years of the 4×4 being made. The utilitarian vehicle is engrained in British culture, made synonymous by the Queen, its use in agricultural farming and military combat.
The Queen’s association with Land Rover dates back to 1951, when she stood in an open-top vehicle to present the King’s colour to the Royal Air Force at a parade in Hyde Park. She has been filmed and pictured driving Land Rovers on her estate many times since. Originally conceived as a no-frills off-road vehicle, the Land Rover was marketed as the “go anywhere” option, “for the farmer, the countryman and general industrial use”.
The Defender, which got its name in 1990, was driven by British troops in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, and was the precursor to the more luxurious four-wheel drives bought by wealthy London families that came to earn the name “Chelsea tractors”. Its rugged design has ensured that an estimated two-thirds of Defenders and their predecessors are still on the road.
However, plans to bring in stricter measures for new car emissions by 2020 meant there were “certain conditions the Defender just won’t meet,” the company said. Sadly this meant the end of the road for the iconic vehicle after more than 2,000,000 being manufactured. The last Defender rolled of the production line in Solihull today, being cheered on by all 700 workers and a substantial media presence.
Don’t be too sad. Presenter of the Classic Car Show, Quentin Wilson, believes the vehicle will live on, “With some 70% of Land Rovers ever built still around we will still be able to cuddle them and see them on the road. And while we can shed a tear, there are still lots and lots of Land Rovers.”
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