Slowly but surely, the Defender is becoming the Pagani Zonda of SUVs in the sense it refuses to die. Even though production of the venerable off-roader ended in early 2016, the British marque keeps finding ways to bring it back. Land Rover Classic is launching a new-ish Works V8 Islay Edition that pays tribute to a 1965 Series IIa owned by Spencer Wilks, one of the founders of Land Rover and Managing Director of the Rover Car Company.
Available in 90 and 110 Station Wagon flavors, the special version takes after the Classic Defender Works V8. Its 5.0-liter engine is good for 405 horsepower and 380 pound-feet (515 Newton-meters) of torque channeled to the wheels via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. It takes 5.6 seconds to hit 60 mph (96 km/h) from a standstill and will top out at 106 mph (171 km/h).
Land Rover Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition
The vehicles are not built from the ground up as they originate from 2012-2016 donors that have been "comprehensively restored, re-engineered and upgraded." 17 units will be built with the shorter wheelbase while the other 13 will be the longer seven-seat model. All get LED headlights and are fitted with more modern suspension and brakes to keep up with the times.
The (takes a deep breath) Land Rover Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition is painted in Heritage Grey as a nod to Wilks' vehicle finished in Mid Grey, contrasted by the Limestone roof and steel wheels. It wears vintage badging and a classic grille, along with a "GXC 639C" side graphic referencing the license plate of its source of inspiration.
Stepping inside, the go-anywhere SUV gets Windsor Ebony leather upholstery combined with tweed from the Islay Woollen Mill for some of the surfaces. There's also a wonderful oak wood veneer along with Heritage Grey accents to complement the exterior finish. Sitting beside the gear lever is a special plaque explaining the origins of the "Land Rover" name.
In the central storage area, there's a removable tray made from the oak of whisky barrels obtained from the Kilchoman distillery located in Islay, the fifth-largest Scottish island and the eighth-largest island of the British Isles. The tray boasts a 110-mm wooden disc mimicking the end of a whisky barrel while the base of the cup holders is also manufactured from the whisky barrel wood.
All these unique touches will cost you a pretty penny as Land Rover Classic is charging £230,000 for the 90 and £245,000 for the 110. At current exchange rates, that works out to approximately $289,000 and $308,000, respectively.