► Last Land Rover Defender built in Solihull
► Marks the end of a 68-year production run
► New range of Land Rover Defenders planned
It's the end of the line, folks; the last Land Rover Defender has been built. The final model, a 90 Heritage Soft Top, rolled off the Solihull production line today, surrounded by 700 former and current employees.
Since 1948, the Solihull plant has churned out a total of 2,016,993 Series Land Rovers and Defenders. The final Defender was joined by several heritage models, including the first pre-production Series I – affectionately known as 'Huey' due to its HUE 166 registration.
Production has finally come to an end due to changes in safety and emissions legislations, as well as the economics and time-consuming process of Defender production – it takes 56 hours to build each one, compared to 48 for a more complicated Discovery Sport.
Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, said: 'Today we celebrate what generations of men and women have done since the outline for the Land Rover was originally drawn in the sand. There will always be a special place in our hearts for Defender, among all our employees, but this is not the end. We have a glorious past to champion, and a wonderful future to look forward to.'
Was there any other news from the event?
You bet. Land Rover has announced a new 'Heritage Restoration Programme'. It will source Series Land Rovers and a team of experts – including former Solihull employees – will rebuild them. Expect to see the first examples on sale in July 2016.
Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover heritage director, said: 'Land Rover Heritage will be offering cars, services, parts and experiences for all owners and fans around the world. Our new restoration service and the sale of expertly restored Series I vehicles is just the start of making sure that classic Land Rovers are not only part of our past – but part of our future.'
Land Rover also launched a 'Defender Journeys' site, which will allow owners to contribute Defender-related stories. These tales will be plotted onto a single online map, creating a digital scrapbook that will be preserved for as long as someone pays the server bills. One other neat feature is an online production line tour, which you can view here.
So, what's next for the fabled Land Rover Defender?
That's the question on everyone's lips: how will such a fabled model be replaced? It's not an easy task, by any stretch. So far we've seen the dramatially different DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts, which reputedly point the way for the next generation of Defender.
It's unlikely the production version's styling will take much from those concepts, however, but you can expect can expect a variety of new Defender variants when it arrives – including the classic three-door model and larger, long-wheelbase versions.
Nick Rogers, group engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover, said: 'Creating the Defender of tomorrow, a dream for any engineer or designer, is the next exciting chapter – and we are looking forward to taking on that challenge.'
Find out more about the Defender in our features below:
Events that rocked the car world: the Land Rover is born, CAR+ January 2016
Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon XS (2016) review
25 British cars to drive before you die: 9) Land Rover Defender, CAR+ September 2015
The two millionth Land Rover Defender: the muddy milestone arrives in style
Would you pay £400,000 for a Land Rover Defender?
Land Rover Defender Challenge (2014) review
Our Cars: Land Rover Defender, CAR+ February 2016
Land Rover Defender Urban Truck RS Ultimate (2015) review
A new Discovery: Land Rover's 2016 Disco spied, plus info on next Defender and more
The Land Rover DC100 concept (2011): first pics of new Defender
Land Rover Defender 110XS long-term test review
Land Rover Defender reviews