The end of an era is coming up as Land Rover prepares to finally cease production of the Defender. The iconic off-road vehicle will reach the end of its life in 2015, but not without considerable fanfare, which is fitting considering the impact it has had on the automotive landscape around the world. The Defender hasn’t been available for purchase in the United States since the late 1990s.
To start off, Land Rover created a one kilometer-wide drawing of the Defender at Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey, UK. The significance of the beach art is that it was in the same spot back in 1947 that Maurice Wilks, the Rover engineering director, sketched out the shape of the Defender in the sand. It took six Land Rovers to create the drawing.
Land Rover is also making three special editions of the Defender as another way to send the model off into the sunset with pride. Each of the limited-run models caters to a certain type of Land Rover customer. The Adventure Edition is a hardcore off-roader aimed at outdoor enthusiasts, with features like additional underbody protection. The Autobiography packs more luxury features like Windsor leather upholstery, two-tone paint, and a performance tune for the four-cylinder diesel engine. Finally, the Heritage Edition comes with a heavy dose of nostalgia, including Grasmere green paint and a white roof.
The beauty of the Defender has also been its downfall. Because the model has changed little since it launched in 1948, emissions and safety considerations have made it no longer practical. The good news is that a replacement for the old Defender will likely launch in 2016, but there is some questions about whether it will bear the Defender nameplate or be closely related to the predecessor in shape or function. When that replacement is released, it will definitely be sold in the U.S. and could be a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler.