From deep in the heart of EU-occupied England comes the grim news that one of the few unalloyed successes of British postwar automotive engineering is about to end this year: production of the Land Rover Defender ends in December, 2015, in anticipation of coming EU regulations. British tech-news site The Register:
[P]roduction of the Defender is coming to en end, because it cannot meet (or be made to meet) new car emission rules from the European Council that kick in in 2020.
Production will therefore end in December. Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), the manufacturer, has hinted that the production line may be moved overseas, with the vehicle remaining in limited production elsewhere.
But, even if this is the case, the Defender will no longer be available brand new in EU markets, meaning the familiar sight of a Land Rover toiling across the British landscape – a presence that helped make it a stalwart of British automotive culture – will gradually recede from view.
The Register’s reporter took a tour of the plant, with some interesting commentary as he went:
Inside the reception area (which doubles as a gift shop full of Land Rover memorabilia) you are met, identified and provided with biscuits and coffee. You also meet your guide, clearly chosen with extreme care to be amiable, charming and above all, knowledgeable: this tour, after all, is likely to be taken by Land Rover geeks, so the guides have to be able to out-geek the attendees.
Remarkably, the vehicles are still put together largely by hand: a real live green-clad person lifts up a door and fits it to the vehicle. It’s a human workshop on a grand scale, not a clinical, robotic nightmare.
It is obvious that the Land Rover has been steadily updated over its production life and, while the shape remains clearly identifiable, virtually every component has changed during that time.
However, our guide delighted in showing us the two parts that the current Defender still has in common with the original pre-series Land Rover from 67 years ago. One is a small reinforcing bar for the body floor and the other is a tie-down cleat for attaching a canvas hood.
As JLR senior designer Peter Crowley-Palmer told us, you can think of it as “a classic car you can buy new”. But sadly, not for much longer.
Those are just snippets, of course; do Read The Whole Thing™, if only for the Land Rover pictures.
Land Rover history is quite quirky, in an eccentric, English way. There is a Lightweight Land Rover that weighs more than the standard model, and the fact that what many see as a military vehicle was built first as a farm machine — an approximate reversal of what happened with the American Jeep. The vehicle’s history is so complex, The Reg notes, that even the company’s souvenir t-shirt gets it wrong.
We have a lot of history with Land Rovers — real, general, authentic, pukka Land Rovers. The current, soulless SUVs and crossovers produced by the company are no substitute. It’s sad to see them going out of production, squeezed at one end by the practical Toyota HiLux and at the other by rapacious Eurocrats.