Land Rover is building a new old defender with a 5‑litre V8
How could Land Rover celebrate its 70th birthday without its most celebrated product? The stalwart, iconic Defender finished in production in 2016 but now it’s back – for a lucky few at least.
It’s been re-engineered as a limited-run special for 2018 by Land Rover Classic, the company arm that brings back to life heritage models from the firm’s past. With a 400bhp V8, leather-lined cabin and £150,000 price tag, the new Defender Works V8 70th Edition revealed today (17 January) is the company’s ultimate iteration of a model that can trace its heritage back to the first Land Rover of 1948.
Under the bonnet is a normally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 which, working with an eight-speed automatic, delivers not only a booming soundtrack (check out the video) and sport mode but also 0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds. At 400bhp the Works V8 has more than three times the power of the last regular production Defender.
The final production Defenders were powered by five and then four-cylinder diesels, but V8s are nothing new to the model, with the venerable Rover 3.5 lump installed in Series III models from 1979. And, foretelling today’s new version, in 1998 there was a V8-powered special edition to mark the model’s 50th anniversary.
Land Rover Classic says the car has been re-engineered to make this new version, with uprated brakes and a handling kit of new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. The wheels are 18-inch diamond-turned Sawtooth alloys wearing 265/65 R18 all-terrain tyres.
Underneath the machined alloy and rivets, though, is largely the same old Defender, with beam axles front and rear, the long-serving ladder frame chassis and all the off-road hardware you expect, like two-speed transfer case, heavy-duty front and rear differentials and torque-biasing centre differential.
Save for new LED headlights, the classic design – and equally classic aerodynamics – haven’t changed, so while the Works V8 drips quintessential 4x4 British cool it still cleaves the air like a brick. Top speed is 106mph.
Land Rover Classic says it will make up to 150 of them, with prices starting at £150,000. It will be available in the UK and other markets as a personal import. Both 90-inch and 110-inch Station Wagon versions will be available.
There are eight body colours to choose from, including satin finishes with contrasting black roof, wheel arches and grille. All the gorgeous Defender detailing – alloy bits and bobs galore – is present, along with a full Windsor leather interior and Recaro chairs.
Some of the goodies, including the Classic infotainment system that’s already available, are to be marketed by Land Rover Classic to existing Defender owners in a new scheme to fight back against the private Defender customisers.
Land Rover Classic chief Tim Hannig said: “It’s fitting that we’ve been able to release the full potential of the iconic Defender, whose much-loved shape remains synonymous with Land Rover.”
Next up? That’ll be the all-new Defender later this year….