Please Land Rover. Show us the new Defender already. Or, er, don’t. Show us a special edition of the old model with the Range Rover’s 5.0-litre V8 wedged into the engine bay. We’re cool with that.
OK, some context. Land Rover is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2018, and seeing as a special edition Velar or Discovery 5 would make Maurice Wilks turn in his grave, the firm’s brought back the Defender for a limited-run 70th anniversary model.
Land Rover aficionados will tell you that this isn’t the first Defender anniversary special edition. There was the 40th anniversary model, which was axed after just two were built (blame strike action at Solihull). Then there was the epic V8-powered 50th anniversary. And then there was the 60th anniversary SVX, which featured all of the cosmetic upgrades but no extra power for the 2.4-litre diesel Transit engine.
Land Rover’s Classic division has been to work on the 70th anniversary model, finding 150 Defenders sitting around (whether Land Rover had the foresight to hang onto them when production ended or someone’s been raiding the classifieds, we don’t know). Each of them get a naturally-aspirated version of JLR’s 5.0-litre petrol V8 producing 405hp, along with an eight-speed ZF auto gearbox and various no-doubt much-needed upgrades to go with the power boost: upgraded suspension, beefier brakes and the like.
As a result, the Defender Works V8 (to give it its official title) has 380lb ft of torque and will hit 60mph in 5.6 seconds. Top speed? 106mph.
Various aftermarket firms have tweaked the Defender, but this is the most powerful ‘official’ model ever produced.
“It’s fitting that we’ve been able to release the full potential of the iconic Defender, whose much-loved shape remains synonymous with Land Rover, 70 years since it was seen in public for the first time,” said JLR Classic’s director, Tim Hannig.
“The idea of reintroducing a V8 Defender was something we were discussing as far back as 2014, when we were still building the Defender in Solihull. We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender; the Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collectors’ edition Defenders.”
Buyers get a choice of 90 or 110 wheelbases, with the former starting at a whopping £150,000. They can also pick from eight standard body colours, while the interior has been upgraded with full Windsor leather trim, Recaro sports seats and an infotainment system. Yes, in a Defender.
If you can’t afford the full Works V8, Land Rover Classic will be offering a number of performance upgrades for lesser models inspired by the V8, including fast-road suspension, braking kits and power upgrades for the TDCi diesel engine.