I know we beat this old horse to death here, but this time it's real. This week, Land Rover finally revealed what the 2018 Defender will look like. We have all the specs and we've seen the pictures. And the consensus seems to be that it looks exactly like, well, the old Defender. Because, well, it is an old Defender. Yeah. So...JLR Classic must have gotten tired of waiting around to see if Mssrs. Speth and McGovern would indeed get their act together and release a new Defender in time for the 70th anniversary of the marque in 2018. So they made their own. It doesn't have a squished roof in the back and it is NOT a hybrid. In fact, it looks to tick a lot of boxes that the original Defender just never did. Well, sort of. At least we think so.
The 70th Anniversary model Defender is the most powerful Defender ever produced by Land Rover. It will catapult you along at a top speed of 106 mph on your way to any on-road destination of choice. That is, as long you are swimming in Bitcoin or own a line of international hotels and casinos. For the modest entry fee of £150,000, you too can be a player, though that will only get into the short-wheelbase version. Obviously, Land Rover did not expect many people to have that kind of scratch, as they are purportedly only making 150 of them.
This fire-breathing (you would be too if you drank gasoline as fast as this thing likely does) beast from the West Midlands has a V8 tucked away under the bonnet, presumably the 5.0 as used in the latest Range Rovers. The press copy says it's the normally aspirated version, in this chassis rated for 400hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. With that kind of power, the 90 can achieve 60mph in just 5.6 of what will be either the most fun or most frightening seconds of your life. To bring all those horses back under control, Land Rover fitted custom 4-pot calipers front and rear, anti-roll bars at both ends, and presumably some uprated shocks and springs to round things out in the performance department.
Interior accoutrements include heated Recaro seats, power everything, and of course Windsor leather everywhere except on the windows. Shifting the 8-speed ZF slushbox is via a newly designed gear selector in the center console, with 'Sport' mode available for when you get back on pavement. On the outside, you get your choice of eight different colors, special badging, aluminum door handles, and LED headlamps. Wheels are special 18-inch 'Sawtooth' alloys clad in BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires.
Also worth noting is the extent to which this limited edition model draws on the D-I-Y ideas of the enthusiast community. The Works Defender uses a Range Rover P-38 power steering box mounted to the outside of the chassis rail in order to make room for the engine. That’s something we started seeing done on old Series Land Rovers quite some time ago. The P-38 box is much more reliable than the 4-bolt Adwest unit that shipped with almost all other Defenders in the past. And, not that making Defenders go fast is a new idea, but in many of the Land Rover enthusiast groups in the US and elsewhere, the trend for engine conversions has been toward the modern 300-to-400hp V8s offered by GM and Ford, with many conversion schemes favoring the modern automatic gearboxes as well.
According to the horse’s mouth, the idea for a 70th-anniversary Defender was hatched quite some time ago. Says Tim Hanning, Director of JLR Classic, “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, 70 years since it was seen in public for the first time. The idea of reintroducing a V8 Defender was something we were discussing as far back as 2014 when we were still building the Defender in Solihull. We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender; the Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collector’s edition Defenders.”
Works V8 models will be available in both 90 and 110 variants; there is no mention of whether they will do a 130. They’re due to be released sometime this year, presumably on or before the anniversary of the Amsterdam Motor Show where the original 80-inch Land Rover was first shown to the public. If you want one, and have the resources to make that happen, all you have to do is email JLR Classics before all 150 are sold out. My guess is you'd better be quick about that. More information and a photo gallery can be found at the JLR newsroom.
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