Defender reborn – albeit briefly Land Rover Classic to build up to 150 V8 special editions.
Two years after Defender production officially ended, Land Rover has announced that it will build up to 150 Defenders with 5.0-litre V8 engines – the fastest accelerating Land Rovers that the company has ever made. Each will be priced from £150,000.
The Defenders will not be assembled as brand-new vehicles (the vehicle that appears in JLR’s official press photos was sold new as a 2.2 diesel in 2015). Instead, donors will be sourced as sub-20,000-mile examples built between 2012 and 2016, which will be stripped and completely re-engineered by JLR’s Land Rover Classic division. Both short-wheelbase ‘90’ and long-wheelbase ‘110’ versions will be made. At the heart of each Defender Works V8 will be a 400bhp, 380lb ft naturally aspirated petrol V8, mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission with Sport mode to give a 0-60mph time of 5.6sec (90 model) and a limited-for-safety top speed of 106mph.
As with all Land Rovers built since 1948, the Works V8 will have a high/low transfer box and beam axles. To cope with the huge increase in power, a torque-biasing centre differential and large four-piston disc brakes – 335mm at the front, 300mm at the rear – are specified.
Each Works V8 will have a high-spec, leather-trimmed interior featuring Recaro sports seats and Land Rover Classic’s own infotainment system, while the exterior can be painted in one of eight colours, with contrasting black roof. Diamond-turned 18in alloy wheels and 265/65 R18 all-terrain tyres are standard.
Land Rover has dabbled with V8s several times over the decades. It first experimented with V8-powered Series II 88s in the 1960s, but its first production model was the Series III Stage 1 in 1979. V8s were fitted to some Ninety and One-Ten models of the 1980s and North American-spec Defenders in the early 1990s, with a swansong being the 50th Anniversary editions produced in 1998. Those latter Defenders used the Range Rover 3.9-litre V8, which offered 190bhp – less than half the power output of the 2018 Works V8.