The 2,000,000th Land Rover Defender. Images courtesy Jaguar Land Rover.
By any measure, it was an unusual auction: A single lot was presented on stage at Bonhams’s Bond Street showroom in London, England, and all proceeds from the sale went to a pair of charities, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the Born Free Foundation. When the hammer fell on the 2,000,000th Land Rover Defender built (a number that also includes Series I,II and III models) a buyer from Qatar had paid 400,000 pounds (roughly $600,000) for the SUV, believed to be a record price for a Land Rover model sold at auction.
The 2,000,000th Defender rolls off the assembly line in May 2015.
Constructed at Land Rover’s Solihull plant in May of 2015, the Defender 90 model was assembled with the help of celebrity line workers with ties to the company’s history. Perhaps best known to American readers was Bear Grylls, the former Special Air Service member who’s turned wilderness survival into a television career, along with British actress Virginia McKenna OBE, who played the role of Joy Adamson in the 1966 film Born Free. Stephen and Nick Wilks, sons of the brand’s founders, also contributed labor to the 2,000,000th Defender; and Arthur Goddard, the head of the engineering team for the original Land Rover, traveled from his home in Australia to witness the truck roll off the assembly line.
Befitting such a unique vehicle, the Defender 90 included an engraving of Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey, Wales, the spot where the shape of the original Land Rover was first etched in the sand by Maurice Wilks for his brother, Spence. The leather seats carry the same motif, along with “Number 2,000,000” embroidery. Fitted to the driver’s seat, an aluminum plaque bears the signatures of everyone involved in the vehicle’s assembly, and even the S90 HUE registration plates pay homage to the tags on the first pre-production Land Rover model, HUE 166.
Arthur Goddard, age 94, enjoys a ride in the 2,000,000th Land Rover Defender.
The final Land Rover Defender is slated to roll off the assembly line in Solihull in early 2016. A replacement model, which reportedly will be offered to U.S. buyers, remains under development.