Brand's Classic division has transformed off-roader into 399bhp luxury proposition
Steve Cropley Autocar
7 March 2018

It’s been a long time coming, and it’s very expensive, but Land Rover has now produced a version of the traditional Land Rover that has been around since 1948 with proper performance and truly long legs.

Jaguar Land Rover Classic is obtaining about 150 recent Defenders, in both short and long-wheelbase forms, and equipping them with a 399bhp, normally aspirated 5.0 V8 so that they can accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.6sec and hit 106mph flat out.

399bhp Land Rover Defender V8 sold out

I had a brief drive in one of these just before the Geneva motor show. A Defender will always be a Defender - what with the cramped driving position and flappy doors - but with Recaro seats, an eight-speed ZF auto 'box and lots of smooth power, it felt transformed.

Even more impressive are the re-engineered springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, the mighty new brakes and an eye-grabbing set of 18in saw-tooth alloys running aggressive-looking 265/65 tyres. Suddenly, the Landie swallows bumps rather than amplifying them.

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You can have a proper conversation as you drive along a rutted street, instead of concentrating on driving around craters. This Defender’s never going to be a luxury saloon, but its comfort is now pretty good. Better still, the steering is re-engineered with zero slop at the straight ahead (usually a Defender given) and no drive-line backlash.

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Of course, it’s very expensive. I get the feeling that the majority of what JLR Classic touches is expensive, mostly because it’s all done by hand – and to a very high standard. No production lines here and they’re not into cutting corners. But you can do lots of exciting things if you have £150k to spend.

Still, there’s no doubt JLR Classic’s engineers have identified the weakest spots of the Defender, dynamically speaking, and found robust fixes for them all. The only matter of regret is that it took 70 years…

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7 March 2018

....but how can a vehicle with no room for your right arm ever be a 'luxury proposition'

Frankly that is just proposterous.....a big engine and leather trim doesnt make a chicken shed on wheels 'Luxury'....a bit of fun at a vastly inflated price...maybe!

7 March 2018

From Autocar's perspective, it really does appear that JLR can do no wrong. I've driven a TDCi Defender for 40,000 miles and I know that nothing you can fit into or on this vehicle can make it a decent drive or worth £150K - unless you put £100K in notes in the back. I used to drive a Range Rover and while an excellent vehicle, it can never be worth £250K - perhaps especially so with two fewer doors. The fiasco of Velar pricing seems to have taught JLR nothing and Autocar hacks less.

And why no Autocar comments on the problems with Discovery Sport and Evoque sales due to the dependency on now unloved diesel engines. Jaguar's E-Pace is scandously built in Austria because JLR said there was no capacity in the UK. There is now.

7 March 2018

I would upvote your comment if there was such a feature here.  I fear that the JLR sales bubble will burst, especially with the coming of the next finacial crash.  I remember the press release of the new diesel engines as though they were talking about the future!  Paris had already stated their intention to ban diesels and Norway as well - both since put into an advanced state (I think).

What everyone forgets about the Defender is that it has no rollover protection.  If you roll it, even at low speeds, you're as good as dead.  It's why so many sport the 'Safety Devices' cage.  I have no idea why JLR didn't fit them on these overpriced Defenders.

7 March 2018

Effectively buyers are being asked to pay £150k for a vehicle that isn’t homoloagetd (as a 400 horsepower model), doesn’t meet any current safety or emissions standard and can’t be fitted with the latest number plate because it is secondhand. As I see it the law allows you to make any number of modifications to an existing car, so long as it can pass an MOT. It would be interesting to know where JLR acquired the 150 donor cars from, how old they were and why they were sold - unless of course they cheated by running off an extra 150 models off the line, hastily registered them and then set about these conversions?

7 March 2018

LP, apparently, some of them were as old as 2012.  The law doesn't allow you to make any number of changes, actually.  There is a points based system - based on the major stuff you change.  Excellent website by Googling "points based system for converting a Defender", by Glencoyne.

Apparently, and incredibly bizarrely, JLR didn't change the chassis on the donor Defenders.  They will rust in the coming years, even if they are stored.  JLR should have galvanised them - from new I mean, but especially these overpriced ones.

7 March 2018
The car tested was registered in March 2014

7 March 2018

It didn't take them 70 years Steve as the Derender / nee 90/110 was not introduced until 1983.  As you well know, stop lying.

7 March 2018

I'm surprised 'bespoke' hasn't been shoehorned in somewhere too.

7 March 2018

most enthusiasts money no object top 10 ten garage wish list would contain a suop'd up Defender, I know mine would.  Actually rather have this then a twisted or Khan...

yeah, the back just ran away from me

7 March 2018

Interestingly, the new Jeep Wrangler was launched (in Europe) at the Geneva show, and so far i have spotted absolutely nothing on Autocars site about it, yet how many stories about Land Rovers are there? Has someone at JLR asked Autocar not to mention a company that not only still make a real off roader, but actualy develope it into a new model, and keep it in production? 

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