Land Rover Brings Back the Old Defender in a Nod to the Camel Trophy

Photo credit: Land Rover
Photo credit: Land Rover

From Autoweek

  • Land Rover will produce 25 Defender Works V8 Trophy vehicles in a nod to the vintage Camel Trophy rallies.

  • Buyers of the 90 and 110 Defenders will attend a three-day off-road course at Eastnor Castle in the U.K.

  • Demand for original Defenders isn't going away even as a new model has arrived, with private imports surging in recent years.

There may be a new Defender out, but demand for the old Defender isn't abating, judging by the prices still being paid for models sold in North America in the 1990s—and those crowding onto RoRo ships to this day. Perhaps that's why Land Rover is bringing back the old model for a special engagement, with plans to build 25 re-engineered Defender Works V8 vehicles meant for an exclusive experience.

This will be a limited-production run of 25 Defenders timed to arrive for a competition due to be held at Eastnor Castle in the U.K. later this year. Land Rover will use the 2012-16 Defender Works V8 vehicles as the starting point, powered by 400-hp engines paired with eight-speed ZF transmissions. These Defenders, built in 90 and 110 wheelbases, will feature beefed-up suspensions in addition to special off-road goodies like underbody protection, a multi-point expedition cage, mud terrain tires, raised air intake, and a front winch, in addition to LED lights. The 4x4s will be finished in Eastnor Yellow paint with contrasting Narvik Black elements on the rear door, the hood, and the wheelarches. At the end of the event, they'll be going home with their respective buyers.

Despite all the off-road gear, the Defenders will be quite plush inside, with black Windsor leather upholstery over the Recaro sport seats featuring yellow stitching. The dash will also include a custom Elliot Brown Land Rover Trophy clock face.

The main event at Eastnor Castle—considered the spiritual home of the automaker's all-terrain training—will see buyers of the 25 vehicles competing in a three-day off-road adventure on the castle's property.

That's right: It'll be like the Hogwarts School of Off-Road Driving and Wizardry.

Photo credit: Land Rover
Photo credit: Land Rover

"The Land Rover Defender has always been more than just a vehicle. Its engineering capability and suitability for overland expedition and all-terrain competition means it’s renowned with getting away from it all. The new Land Rover Trophy will bring this to life for a new generation of adventurers," said Dan Pink, director of Land Rover Classic.

"Experiences are a key part of Land Rover Classic’s DNA and this whole concept comes directly from feedback we’ve received. Our customers want to create their own stories, battle scars and patina with their Works V8 Trophy vehicles from day one, fueling campfire chats with like-minded enthusiasts," he added.

Among other things, the 25-vehicle special run demonstrates the continued demand for the old Land Rover Defender, and for exclusive experiences associated with 4x4s. It's hard to miss the fact that these 4x4s will be wearing a color scheme similar to that of the Camel Trophy vehicles, and that they'll be equipped with leather interiors and eight-speed automatics, more than hinting at the emphasis on luxury adventures in very exclusive locales. This experience will be like the European delivery programs popular with a number of German automakers, except that buyers will be getting a Defender that's not in production anymore. Perhaps it's better to view this as a pilot program for a larger camping experience for new Defender buyers; we have a feeling there will be plenty of demand for that as well once pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted.

"On seeing their Defender Works V8 Trophy for the first time, customers and their co-drivers will make their first marks by adding their names and country flags to the vehicle. They will then embark on a range of challenges inspired by famous global adventures and competitions spanning more than seven decades of Land Rover production," the automaker says.

Photo credit: Land Rover
Photo credit: Land Rover

"Expert one-to-one tuition will be provided as part of the adventure, giving customers a unique opportunity to develop extreme driving techniques and skills in their own vehicle, before putting their training to the test. Everyone will compete for a range of prizes, including a grand prize for the overall winner, to be announced later in 2021," Land Rover adds.

If all of this sounds a bit expensive... that's because it will be. Buyers will pay about $270,00 for these machines and the experience, so it's safe to say these will be among the most expensive Defenders in the world. It's not actually that far north of what buyers have paid for prior Works V8 versions of the old Defender, so Land Rover is not exactly doing anything new here, at least for those willing to pay for the experience.

If you're trying to calculate just how many used Defenders could be imported for $270,000, the answer is "a lot." There aren't too many things stopping prospective North American buyers from importing 25-year-old and older Defenders. Demand for imported Defenders is still high, and luckily this means that there are more than ever to choose from, from examples worth around $20,000 to those kitted out well north of the $100,000 mark.