It’s official, folks. The very last Land Rover Defender rolled off the Solihull, England, assembly line this morning. All told, 2,016,933 Series I, II, III, and Defenders have been manufactured in Solihull since 1948. The off-roader still sells relatively well in spite of its age, but it no longer complies with the stringent safety and emissions regulations in Europe.
Land Rover marked the occasion by inviting 700 current and former employees to watch the last Defender (pictured right and below) go down the assembly line and witness the workers put their tools away for the last time. The landmark model is a limited-edition Defender 90 Heritage Edition, meaning it receives a classic-looking grille whose design is inspired by the Series III, retro-inspired emblems on both ends, a cashmere green/Alaska white paint two-tone paint job, body-colored steel wheels, and a tan soft top. It was purchased by Ralf Speth, the CEO of Jaguar – Land Rover, but it will be displayed in the company’s official museum.
The end of the Defender’s 33-year long production run marks the end of an era. While modern Land Rovers models like the Evoque and the Discovery Sport are largely built by robots, the Defender was still mostly assembled by hand. The British car maker explains it took about 56 hours to turn 7,000 individual parts into a fully functional Defender. Interestingly, the Defender only shares two components with the original model that was introduced in 1948: One is the small retaining plate that helps hold the hood in place, and the other is the rear underbody support strut.
Most of the employees that worked on the Defender line will move to other Jaguar – Land Rover facilities, but ten of them have been assigned to a new Heritage Restoration program that aims to keep classic Series and Defender models on the road.
Land Rover stresses the Defender hasn’t reached the end of the line. While the nameplate will disappear from the company’s lineup for a few years, a brand new model is at the embryonic stage of development. It’s not scheduled to go on sale until 2019 so official details are few and far between, but Land Rover executives have previously confirmed the next Defender won’t look anything like the DC100 concept that shown at the 2011 edition of the Frankfurt Auto Show.