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Land Rover Defender Works V8 Islay Edition: £230,000 classic off-roader unveiled

Land Rover has revived the classic Defender with a V8-engined special edition limited to just 30 units

The reborn Defender represented a gamble for Land Rover, a bold push forwards with an all-new design and construction for its iconic off-roader, but the brand hasn’t quite finished with the original yet. A series of limited-run old-style Defenders is being developed by the firm’s Classic division, the first of which is the V8-powered, £230,000 Islay Edition.

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Taking cues from the 1965 Series II Defender owned by Spencer Wilks, one of the company’s founders, each Islay Edition is fully restored and uprated with the same mechanicals as the Defender Works V8 from 2018. The name is inspired by the original Land Rover from the late 1940s, which underwent development on the Scottish Isle of Islay with Wilks at the wheel.

Given that the final ‘classic’ Defender was built way back in 2016, Land Rover is using donor cars from the final years of production to create the Islay Edition, making it essentially a factory-built restomod of sorts. That goes some way to explain the high asking price and low production numbers, with each car requiring a comprehensive rebuild and refinishing to Islay Edition spec. 

Build numbers will be split between short-wheelbase ‘90’ models and the more versatile ‘110’ (costing an extra £15,000), each painted in Heritage grey with cream steel wheels and classic-style badging. The front end features a body-coloured mesh grille and headlight surrounds, but the retro design is underpinned by choice modern touches. These include LED headlights, beefier brakes and uprated suspension – useful given the Islay Edition’s hard-hitting 5-litre V8 motor. 

Generating 399bhp and 380lb ft of torque, there’s nothing old-school about the Islay Edition’s performance – it sprints from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, or just a shade slower than a Honda Civic Type R. Power is sent to all four wheels through an 8spd ZF automatic gearbox, a two-speed transfer box and a torque distributing centre diff, with live axles and a recirculating ball steering system remaining as relics of the original Land Rover.

The cabin is trimmed in black Windsor leather with various nods to the original prototypes and the Isle of Islay itself. There’s tweed-like fabric trim on the seats and door cards, oak veneer inlays and an Islay Edition plaque, along with a unique wood-crafted insert within the centre armrest paying tribute to the Scottish island.

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