Land Rover Recreates 1948 Defender Production Line
Land Rover takes seriously the business of preserving its heritage. So much so, in fact, it built a full-scale replica of the original assembly line that began building the Series I Land Rover in 1948. The attraction just opened this week and showcases replica Series I models in various stages of construction while surrounded by period-correct tools and machinery. It’s all part of the huge celebration Land Rover is throwing itself in honor of the Defender’s last year in production within the U.K.
The Celebration Line is located within the main assembly building in the Solihull factory, the same factory where Jaguar Land Rover currently assembles the Defender and where the Series I first came to life shortly after WWII.
Visitors taking the tour are immersed into the environment as they dawn “cow gown” overalls just as factory workers did. Never-before-seen footage of Land Rover founder Maurice Wilks shows the original assembly line in action. JLR’s Heritage Director, John Edwards, say the experience will bring guests back to the beginning. “Land Rover has a rich heritage based around the Series I and Defender models, and we wanted to create something extra special that would give visitors and enthusiasts a unique insight into how it all started back in 1948.”
Creating the Heritage Line was a massive undertaking that required much expertise and tracking down of original parts for both the Series I replicas and the assembly line. Continue reading past the jump
Click past the jump to read more about the Land Rover Defender.
JLR turned to one of the most recognized Land Rover restorers and curator for help in creating the Heritage Line. Phil Bashall built his first Series I when he was only 13 and has continued building and restoring Land Rovers since. He says, “It’s been a struggle at times, but a real labor of love to source all of the original parts needed for vehicles that stopped production so many years ago.” Even in his personal collection of more than 8,000 original parts, it took him months to search for all the needed components. With all in place, it took Bashall and his mechanic five weeks to build the five Series I replicas for the exhibit.
For those wanting to tour the factory and Celebration Line, the cost is £45 per person, or roughly $68, and lasts around three hours. Of course, that doesn’t include plane tickets to England.
Why it matters
It’s great that an automaker wants to preserve its heritage the way Land Rover is. Many times industrial history is swept aside in favor of profits and manpower, making exhibits like this a rare sight. Though it’s a shame the Defender is going away, I’m happy to see Land Rover give it a proper send-off.
The Land Rover Defender has been around since 1983 but has roots that tie back into the original Series I Land Rover that bowed in 1948 after the conclusion of WWII. The Defender is easily one of the most capable and most-recognized off-road vehicles of all time, making it a cultural icon. Solid axles, 4WD, meaty tires, a rugged suspension, and a diesel engine back up the iconic imagery.
That diesel engine, at least in its current state, is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder that makes 120 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. Power s sent to the rear wheels under normal conditions and to all four wheels when the manually engaged 4WD is locked in.
Sadly, the Defender has never been widely available in the U.S., though numerous countries around the world have enjoyed its capabilities.