Most of you probably never heard of Islay, a 239-square-mile island located just south-west of Scotland and about 25 miles north of the Irish coast. It is famous for the fine wild brown trout that can be fished there and for having eight active whiskey distilleries on its territory. More importantly, the island is also extremely important to the Land Rover brand, as Islay is the birthplace of the Land Rover name.

Yes, folks, the Land Rover name was born on this Scottish island, where Spencer Wilks, the man responsible for the concept work that led to the development of the off-road utility vehicle, had an estate he purchased back in the 1930s. And, the story is quite entertaining.

Shortly after World War II, Wilks returned to Islay in a modified Rover 12 sedan that had a raised suspension in order to cope with the island’s rough terrain. When his game keeper saw the car, he commented that the vehicle "must be a Land Rover," and thus the iconic name for the Land Rover Series and later the Defender was born.

To recall the story, Land Rover returned to Islay with several Series and Defender vehicles. Making the trip that much more interesting is that the Wilks family still has links on the island, where it operates the Kilchoman distillery. What’s particularly interesting about the business, which is run by Spencer Wilks’ great-grandsons, is that all parts of the production process is carried out on Islay. I know driving and drinking don’t mix, but it’s stories like these that make the automotive industry that much more captivating.

Check out the video for more info on Land Rover’s return to its Scottish roots.


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