The Land Rover Defender, which will cease production at the end of this year, is making a special appearance at the Festival of Speed, in the form of the two millionth (2M in Land Rover speak) Defender/Series I Land Rover to roll off the line at Solihull.
The one-off 2M model is on Land Rover’s stand at Goodwood. It will be auctioned in December by Bonhams, with proceeds going to Land Rover’s chosen charities, Born Free and the Red Cross.
Various high-profile names connected with Land Rover, such as Bear Grylls, Robert Brooks, Chairman of Bonhams and Ralf Speth, JLR’s CEO, have lent a hand in the build process, and the vehicle has been breathed on by the Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division of Land Rover.
A look at the 2M Defender shows how finely the SVO division judges its involvement in making cosmetic and engineering changes to such familiar and well-loved vehicles. It has rightly returned to the car’s simple beginnings, when brothers Maurice and Spencer Wilks drew a car in the sands of Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey, in 1947, and the Series I Land Rover was born. An Ordinance Survey map of Red Wharf Bay is replicated on material in the seats and grab handles, and a section of bodywork on the car’s flank. A plaque bearing the names of those who helped build the car is screwed in below the driver’s seat, while the door panels comprise traditional aluminium and satin paint. Inside, there is heritage-level sewn badging mixed with modern leather from the Autobiography trim range.
Alongside the 2M Defender, the festival is providing the British show debut of the Range Rover SV Autobiography, the most luxurious Range Rover ever built, to celebrate 45 years of the model. The refreshed 2016 model-year Evoque and Discovery Sport will be on display with new tech and engines. Going up the hill will be the Range Rover Sport SVR and, Land Rover being Land Rover and therefore ultimately about stuff that goes off the road rather than on it, there is naturally an off-road course on the stand itself, where visitors can have passenger rides in various Land Rovers, to experience some rather surprising ascents and descents. Even children get to experience the off-roading tenacity of Land Rovers this year, with a gruelling radio-controlled miniature Land Rover-designed off-road course on the stand.