HAVING this year reached its pensionable age of 65, one of Britain's best-loved vehicles -- and a favourite with the Queen -- is to cease production.
The last of the current Land Rover Defenders will roll-off the production lines of Jaguar Land Rover's (JLR) Solihull factory in the West Midlands in December 2015.
But already a bold new successor for the 21st century is on the drawing board ready to replace it. A small 'family' of Defenders is even being prepared, including a sporty beach-buggy style.
The Defender is the name given in more recent years to the original Land Rover which was born in 1948.
The popular 4x4 vehicle, which is exported all around the world, represents the continuation of the very first Land Rover which came on to the scene in April 1948 and was modelled on the war-time jeeps.
Featuring in the Angelina Jolie film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and in the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, the Defender name itself can be traced back to 1990. It was created to avoid confusion with a new Land Rover launched the previous year called Discovery.
Jaguar land Rover confirmed that Defender production will cease but stressed a new replacement vehicle would join the Land Rover model range, which includes the Freelander, the Discovery and the Range Rover.
At the Frankfurt Motor Show two years ago, parent company Jaguar Land Rover unveiled a macho, testosterone-fuelled open-topped off-roader - codenamed DS100 Sport - designed to be as useful off-road as the trusty original. It is likely to be one of a small family of Defenders.
It could even be built at their new factory in Puna - whether in knock-down form from kits supplied in Britain, or more radically, in India alone.
John Edwards, who has just been announced as the head of JLR's new individual products division, said the Defender was 'loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design' adding: "We are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage, while meeting the requirements of a changing global market."
He added: "Like no other vehicle, the Defender inspires affection and loyalty the world over. It inspires people to go beyond, whether they are explorers, ecologists, UN aid workers or Red cross medics."
He said the Defender is "known and loved the world over and that its replacement would be instantly recognised" by anyone who knows the current vehicle and the "core values of dependability and functionality" would be retained.
— Daily Mail