By Steve & Tamami Laser
Land Rover recently celebrated two major milestones with the build of a bespoke Defender to commemorate the two-millionth unit of its rugged icon while the luxurious Range Rover turned 45 years old.
Building Defender Number 2 Million
Production of the original Land Rover Series I began at the Lode Lane facility in 1947 ahead of its launch at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948. Since then two million examples of the Series I, II III and Defender have been produced at the Solihull plant in the UK.
In May, a team of Defender fans were invited to join the Solihull production line to help build a one-of-a-kind vehicle. Land Rover says that the all-star cast of special guests helped to complete the momentous build of Defender 2,000,000 as “a fitting tribute to almost seven decades of Land Rover production.”
Defender 2,000,000 features distinctive touches. A map of Red Wharf Bay – where the design for the original Land Rover was first drawn in the sand – is engraved into the aluminium fender, which contrasts with the exterior “Indus Silver” satin paint. A unique “2,000,000” badge is affixed to the rear of the vehicle and on the interior console. This special Defender is finished with Santorini Black wheels and wheel arches, roof, door hinges, grille and mirror caps.
Inside, the leather-trimmed seats feature a Red Wharf Bay graphic and “2,000,000” logos are stitched onto the headrests. A bespoke aluminium plaque, signed by those who helped to assemble the vehicle is fitted to the driver’s seat plinth. On the outside, “S90 HUE” registration plates – a reference to the first pre-production Land Rover, registration “HUE 166” – complete this unique Defender.
Land Rover says this special Defender will be publicly unveiled by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed later this month. After completing a schedule of public appearances throughout the rest of the year, Defender 2,000,000 will be auctioned at a charity event, held at the Bonhams auction house in New Bond Street, London, in December, as the current production series Defender “enters its final phase.”
The automaker says that all proceeds will be donated to Land Rover’s humanitarian and conservation partners – the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Born Free Foundation. As part of the auction, Bonhams will host a special Series Land Rover and Defender exhibition to showcase the vehicle’s rich history and detail its journey to becoming a global automotive icon.
Happy Birthday Range Rover
Way back in June 1970 the first generation Range Rover, now known as the “Classic” and originally only available as a two-door, went on sale featuring a lightweight aluminum V8 engine, full-time four-wheel drive and four-wheel disc brakes. During its 25-year run a four-door model was added in 1981 and an automatic gearbox in 1982.
The first diesel Range Rover arrived in 1986 and in 1989 it became the first 4×4 to feature anti-lock brakes. Then in 1992 it celebrated another SUV first with the introduction of Electronic Traction Control and automatic electronic air suspension.
The Range Rover’s reputation for all-terrain capability was promoted in high-profile endurance tests. In 1972 it became the first vehicle to complete an 18,000-mile Trans-America expedition, which included the perilous crossing of the Darien Gap in South America. This was followed in 1974 by the completion of an epic 7,500-mile trek across the Sahara Desert in 100 days.
The second-generation Range Rover or P38a – so named because it was developed in building 38A in the Solihull factory – arrived in 1994 delivering an even more luxurious interior, greater on-road ability and off-road capability. Key design features made it instantly recognizable as a Range Rover and the iconic silhouette, floating roof, clamshell hood, split tailgate and continuous waistline continue to the present models.
The arrival of the third generation Range Rover delivered significant improvements over its predecessor. Larger and more spacious than the P38a, the interior was inspired by high-end yacht designs, fine furniture and first-class airline seating.
The current fourth generation Range Rover was launched in 2012 and was the first mass-produced SUV to feature a lightweight all-aluminium body.
At the New York International Auto Show in March, Land Rover revealed the new Range Rover flagship SVAutobiography, while the landmark six millionth Land Rover built was a Range Rover Vogue SE, which rolled off the Solihull production line in April.
Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles in this story cover models sold in the UK market. For more information about the automaker’s global product line, visit the Land Rover website.
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Story ©2015 CarNichiWa.com