LAND ROVER has gone back to the beach where it all began to start a 12-month celebration of its rugged Defender model.
Back in 1947, Rover’s engineering director Maurice Wilks sketched the shape for the original Land Rover on the sands of Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey.
He proposed the idea to his brother Spencer, who was the company’s managing director, and an icon was born.
Now, 68 years later, a huge drawing on the same stretch of sand is marking the launch of three limited edition models and the beginning of a new chapter in the Defender story.
As UK production of the current Defender enters its final phase, Land Rover aims to use this year to celebrate the car.
Land Rover vehicle line director Nick Rogers explained: “Passion and enthusiasm surround everything we do with Defender, and that will never change.
“This is a Land Rover that has thrived for decades on its unquestionable capability and iconic shape. I now have the honour of being one of the many enthusiasts at Land Rover committed to creating a fitting successor to the legendary Defender.”
To mark the announcement the company has created the largest sand drawing ever produced in the UK.
A Defender outline measuring 1km across was drawn at Red Wharf using a fleet of six Land Rovers each towing an agricultural 12-foot harrow.
The vehicles chosen for the race against the Anglesey tides chart the evolution of the Defender from its introduction in 1948 to the present day.
So a Land Rover Series I, II and III were joined by a Ninety from the Eighties, a Defender 90 Hard Top and a Defender 110 Station Wagon.
The Series II model once belonged to the Wilks family and Stephen Wilks, Maurice’s son, said: “My father met his brother on the beach at Red Wharf Bay and made a drawing in the sand of how he thought the Land Rover could be made.
“That was the start of it all, the conception of Land Rover.”
The Wilks family owned land on the Welsh island and Maurice wanted a versatile vehicle that could double as a light tractor and off-roader.
His design was christened the ‘Land Rover’, the outline of which we now recognise as the Defender.
The trio of limited edition models will each celebrate a different element of the Defender’s history.
The Heritage, Adventure and Autobiography Editions are all powered by the brand’s 2.2-litre diesel engine and are available to order now.
Land Rover is also investigating the possibility of maintaining low volume production of the current Defender at an overseas facility for sale outside the EU.
The exclusive Autobiography Edition promises more performance, luxury and comfort than before thanks to a comprehensive kit list, two-tone paintwork, Windsor leather upholstery and a power upgrade from 122PS to 150PS.
Only 80 examples will be available in the UK, produced exclusively as a 90 Station Wagon and priced from £61,845.
The Heritage Edition is inspired by early Land Rover models and mixes nostalgia with modern creature comforts.
It comes in Grasmere Green paintwork and a contrasting white roof plus a heritage grille and HUE 166 graphics, recalling the registration plate of the first ever pre-production Land Rover nicknamed ‘Huey’.
It hits showrooms from August with production limited to 400 and prices from £27,800.
The Adventure Edition, meanwhile, comes fitted with extra underbody protection and Goodyear MT/R tyres to boost the Defender’s all-terrain capability.
There will also be unique decals and a leather-trimmed cabin in a model that is priced at £43,495.