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End of an icon: Land Rover Defender production comes to a close

After 68 years, the Land Rover Defender is out of production.

A significant chapter in the automotive history book came to a close earlier on Friday when the last of the current-generation Defender rolled out of Land Rover's factory in Solihull, England.

Although the average vehicle only sticks around for a few years before it's replaced, the Land Rover Defender has been with us for the last 68-years. The Defender's roots stretch all the way back to 1948, when Land Rover started production of the Series I utility vehicle at its Solihull facility. Production continued largely unchanged with the Series II and Series III, with the SUV ultimately being re-badged as the Defender in 1990.

Land Rover marked the occasion with a special ceremony that was attended by 700 current and former employees of the Solihull plant.

"Today we celebrate what generations of men and women have done since the outline for the Land Rover was originally drawn in the sand,” Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, said. "The Series Land Rover, now Defender, is the origin of our legendary capability, a vehicle that makes the world a better place, often in some of the most extreme circumstances. There will always be a special place in our hearts for Defender, among all our employees, but this is not the end. We have a glorious past to champion, and a wonderful future to look forward to.”

Land Rover is expected to introduce an all-new Defender in 2018.

Appropriately, the last Land Rover Defender off the line was a 90 Heritage Soft Top model that wouldn't look out of place if you dropped in back in 1948.

Although the Defender is now officially out of production, the current version of the SUV isn't riding off into the sunset just yet. Land Rover also announced that it is launching a new Heritage Restoration Programme on the site of the current Solihull production line. The Heritage Restoration Programme will be charged with restoring Series Land Rovers from across the globe. The first of the restored vehicles will go on sale this July.

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