Land Rover Defender Works V8 – the 70th Anniversary Defender

Land Rover Defender Works V8 – the 70th Anniversary Defender

Land Rover has announced a limited-edition, high-performance version of the Defender, with a run of up to 150 V8-powered examples re-engineered to celebrate the Land Rover marque’s 70th anniversary in 2018.

Land Rover Defender Works V8 – 70th Edition

This isn’t the first time Land Rover has produced a limited edition V8 Defender – in 1998 they built 385 50th Anniversary V8 90s which are still in strong demand today. The reality wasn’t quite as romantic as it might sound – Land Rover had a batch of NAS (North American Specification) Defenders they were unable to sell in the US due to safety regulations (they didn’t have airbags), so they released them as a limited edition in the UK & Japan.

V8 in a Defender – sounds good, right?

It was a nice idea, but the asthmatic  4.0 V8 wasn’t a lot faster than the Td5 diesel and the improved refinement only served to highlight the road and wind noise a Defender with fat tyres and a roll cage generates. At £26,995 it was also pretty expensive at the time, but eventually they all found homes and used examples now regularly change hands for £25,000+ with some fetching a lot more.

Information on the new Works V8 are scarce, but the devil is in the detail. According to Jaguar Land Rover Classic, they plan to sell up to 150 specially-selected 70th Editions. Remember, the Defender is no longer in production so these will be pre-owned or pre-registered donor vehicles that are transformed into the Works V8. Prices start from £150,000 for the short wheelbase 90 and the cars will be purchased directly from  Land Rover Classic.

Tim Hannig, Jaguar Land Rover Classic Director, said:

“The idea of reintroducing a V8 Defender was something we were discussing as far back as 2014, when we were still building the Defender in Solihull. We knew the demand was there for a powerful and fast Defender; the Land Rover authenticity is the ultimate finishing touch for discerning clients purchasing these collector’s edition Defenders.”


The 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated petrol V8 powertrain produces 400 hp and 515 Nm of torque (the standard Defender delivered 122PS and 360 Nm). The Defender Works V8 will accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.6sec, while top speed is increased to 106mph. The similarly priced, brand new and improved Mercedes AMG G63 which was announced in January at the Detroit Motor Show has it licked, though. It produces 563 hp, 760 Nm ot torque, with 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds and a 130 mph top speed. Still, It sounds like the Defender will go some, and it will be interesting to see how it behaves on road – hopefully, some of our YouTuber clients will be offered a test drive…


The Works V8 boasts an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission with sport mode and cool Range Rover-style shifter , uprated brakes and handling kit (springs, dampers and anti-roll bars), plus exclusive 18-inch diamond-turned Sawtooth alloy wheels and 265/65 R18 all-terrain tyres.

Tiptronic ‘box in a Defender!

Eight standard body colours include two satin finishes – contrasting with a Santorini Black roof, wheel arches and front grille – finished with machined aluminium door handles, fuel filler cap and Defender bonnet lettering. A comprehensive lighting upgrade includes bi-LED headlamps. Full Windsor Leather interior trim covers the dashboard, door panels, headlining and Recaro sports seats. Land Rover Classic’s own Classic Infotainment System is also fitted.

Both 90 and 110 wheelbase Defender Works V8 derivatives will be available to purchase directly from Land Rover Classic, with prices starting from £150,000 for a 90 in the UK.

Land Rover Classic also revealed that it will also be introducing a number of performance-upgrades including power upgrades for the TDCi diesel engine, fast-road suspension and braking kits.

Ensuring the longevity of the Defender name

So – are Land Rover doing this for commercial reasons, PR or to please wealthy Land Rover enthusiasts? Most likely it’s a combination of the three. In the press release for the Works V8, Land Rover Classic states:

Land Rover intends to continue the Defender lineage and will use its technology, pioneering engineering capability and design expertise to ensure the longevity of the Defender name. The all-new Defender is subject to further announcements.

Is there a market for a £150,000 Defender?

There are a number of companies re-engineering or selling bespoke Defenders – think Twisted, Khan, Urban & Nene Overland – and prices for some of these vehicles already reach into the six-figure price bracket. According to Twisted, they sell approximately 100 re-engineered Defenders every year ranging from £40,000 – £180,000, and were confident enough in the exclusive Defender market to order 240 new cars from Land Rover before production finished on 29th January 2016. We are certain that Land Rover’s target buyers for the Works V8 won’t baulk at £150,000 for a genuine, “as-new” Land Rover product, and JLR already have experience in this market with their Born Again program. Only time will tell if Land Rover inadvertently end up treading on the toes of the smaller businesses that have supported them over the years.

It’s a clever move from Land Rover – it affirms their commitment to their heritage program, whilst also keeping the Defender name in the public eye while they continue to develop the much-anticipated replacement for the original. They might even make a bob or two. We look forward to seeing them on (or off) the road.

To find out more about the Defender Works V8, contact Land Rover Reborn.

Images: Land Rover UK