Production of the iconic Land Rover Defender ended in Solihull, England, about six months ago. While the truck was still relatively popular among buyers, it no longer complied with the strict emissions regulations in Europe. That’s a relatively simple fix, Mercedes-Benz has been keeping the G-Class alive for decades, but the Defender was expensive to build so Land Rover decided to stop spending money on modernizing it.
The off-roader might make an unexpected comeback in the not-too-distant future. British newspaper The Times reports that a 63-year old industrialist named Jim Ratcliffe is talking with top Jaguar – Land Rover executives about resurrecting the Defender. Neither side has officially commented on the talks, so it’s too early to tell if Ratcliffe simply wants to buy the rights to the Defender, or if he’s looking to purchase the assembly line as a whole. Either way, he wants to keep production in the United Kingdom.
Any attempt to bring back the old Defender would require a new engine, but the truck’s engine bay is big enough to fit four-, five-, six-, and eight-cylinders so there are plenty of suitable options to choose from. It would also require giving it a new name; we doubt Land Rover would let Ratcliffe use its name and logo, and the Defender nameplate will allegedly return in 2018 or 2019 when a second-gen model is introduced.
We’re admittedly taking this report with a grain of salt. Buying the rights to a car that’s no longer in production and successfully re-launching it is easier said than done, especially for someone who isn’t familiar with the auto industry. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted on this developing story as more details emerge.