Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Cars

The Last Land Rover Defenders Are Rolling Off the Production Line

The Land Rover Defender has motored on for almost 70 years, and anyone present at the launch would still recognize it today. After making more than 2 million of the workhorses - a truck loved by Winston Churchill and the Queen of England - the company will cease production in Solihull, England, in late January. Blame ever tougher emissions laws and pedestrian safety rules. Jaguar Land Rover's cachet for off-road excellence is built on the reputation of the boxy classic, used to ferry British soldiers during the Korean War and the Red Cross in crisis areas everywhere. The company has plans for a replacement model that'll combine its “can go anywhere” pedigree with today's touchscreens and cordless phone charging. It's a tough act to follow.

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    Jaguar Land Rover produced 18,000 Defenders last year, down from peak annual output of about 56,000 annually in the 1970s.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    The Defender's design stems from an outline drawn in the sand at a beach in Wales by designer and engineer Maurice Wilks in 1947.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    The iconic truck is put together by 450 workers in Solihull, U.K.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    After Tata Motors acquired Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford in 2008, it merged the two brands into one company.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    The company made almost half a million cars last year across all of its marques.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    The Series I was inspired by the U.S.-built Willys Jeep.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    The cars are still almost completely hand-built.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    The Defender's first annual production in 1948, totaling 8,000 cars, sold out in one day. It took just 10 months from a sketch in the sand in 1947 to production.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    Defender production employs about 470 people, many of whom will go on to work on the F-Pace, Jaguar's first-ever SUV on sale next year.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    The Defender has been on sale with few changes for almost 70 years. Most models today get a complete revamp every seven years.

    Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

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    JLR showed a new concept Defender in 2011, the DC100. The idea didn't gain traction, but the company could reveal ideas for the Defender's new direction with a fresh concept as early as the Geneva International Motor Show in 2016, says analyst Ian Fletcher at forecaster IHS Automotive. 

    Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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    JLR's Solihull plant employs about 9,000 workers.

    Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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    More than 80% of JLR's vehicles are sold for export.

    Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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    The front grill of a Land Rover Defender is seen on the production line at Tata Motors Ltd.'s Jaguar Land Rover vehicle manufacturing plant.

    Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg