UPDATE - 29.10.18
The so-called Selfridges Edition Defender V8, which started life as a humble 2016 110 2.2 TDCi Pick Up, has taken pride of place at the Oxford Street department store, giving us the chance to finally see the car in all its one-off glory. Anyone lucky enough to walk through (or get dragged to) the new menswear section this morning will presumably have seen the completed car already after it took three technicians four days to rebuild it from a rolling chassis.
That's additional to the 930 hours of expert care already spent on turning the Pick Up from diesel-chugging workhorse into a petrol-quaffing 405hp show pony. As we detail below, it now features a number of bespoke elements, including Bronze Green paint, retro-style seats, Selfridges badging and, of course, the branded hood in trademark yellow.
Land Rover says the car is on 'permanent display' in the menswear department and that visitors will be permitted to clamber in and out of it to 'get a real feel for the iconic British vehicle'. Sounds like a nightmare for the chocolate leather, although we'll admit to being intrigued by the prospect of an open-top V8 given the enlivening effect the engine had on the conventional Defender. Perhaps when two million shoppers are through with it, we might actually get to see it on the road. Or even off it. Where it should be.
ORIGINAL STORY - 09.10.18
Those of you who fear that the agrarian, utilitarian, go-anywhere-ian practicality of the previous Defender won't make its way beyond the marketing bumf of the replacement, look away now. Because, despite this particular story being about an admittedly very cool version the good ol' off-roader - a car which JLR keeps finding excuses to resurrect, Zonda-style - its angle seemingly reveals a great deal about the demographic Land Rover now aims to appeal to.
See, Land Rover Classic has announced the creation of a one-off Defender, based around the advancements made for its 70th anniversary Works V8 cars. As such it features the chassis and powertrain upgrades introduced on that model, including a 405hp, 380lb ft V8 mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, as well as uprated brakes and suspension. Inside, 'period-style' seats with chocolate leather upholstery and ivory cross-stitching are combined with an infotainment system housed in a classically-styled head unit, a heritage-style folding windscreen and half-height doors to deliver modern comfort and convenience in a retro-inspired package. So far so good.
The vehicle, which began life as a 2016 Defender 110 Pick Up but has officially been converted into a 110 Soft Top, is finished in Bronze Green with a branded hood in trademark Selfridges yellow. Why Selfridges yellow? Because upon completion of the project, Land Rover Classic's engineers' next task was to part disassemble the Defender and cart it down to London, where its chassis was rolled through a first floor window of the famous department store.
Here it will form the centrepiece of the new Selfridges menswear department when it opens on October 29th, having been reassembled live in front of customers over the next four days, and then kept under a protective cover while remodelling of the floor itself is completed over the following weeks.
Explaining the stunt, JLR Classic Director, Tim Hannig, said: "Our skilled engineers and craftsmen can tailor vehicles to meet any request, from applying unique paintwork or interior trim to delivering far-reaching mechanical enhancements. The Selfridges Edition shows what can be achieved and we can't wait to see it take pride of place in the famous department store."
Soft tops, of course, have a special place in Land Rover lore, with both pre-production examples of the Series I and the final ever Defender sporting the design. The motivation for this project though feels quite far removed from the objectives of its forbears. Wealthy and fancy an old Defender? Pay Land Rover Classic to have it tarted up. Wealthy and want a new Defender? Well, watch this space...