Land Rover Launches Rough, Ready, Retro Defender V8 Trophy Edition

  • Land Rover’s Classic Division has released a limited run of 25 of the retro Defender Works V8 Trophy shown here, based on the now defunct old-school Defender.
  • Among those produced will be both two-door (90) and four-door (110) models, all in the Eastnor Yellow color reminiscent of Camel Trophy entries of the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Not surprisingly, this old-school SUV won’t be sold in the U.S.; Defender fans here will have to shop the 2021 Land Rover Defender instead.

    Breaking up can be hard to do. Land Rover seems to be finding it particularly tough to split up with its most iconic model, launching another new edition of the Defender that officially retired five years ago. This is the limited-run Defender Works V8 Trophy.

    Don’t think that this is an alternative to the new and much more advanced Defender that went on sale last year. The Works V8 Trophy is a product of Land Rover’s Classic Division, and the limited run of 25 will all be based on existing chassis. In other words, they’re aftermarket conversions. Both short-wheelbase two-door 90 and long-wheelbase four-door 110 station wagons will be produced, with power coming from a naturally aspirated version of JLR’s 5.0-liter V-8 making 399 horsepower and 379 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic gearbox will also be standard, something no original Defender left the factory with.

    land rover defender works trophy

    land rover defender works trophy

    Land Rover

    The new power output is similarly non-prototypical. Most of the original Defenders were sold in Europe with a variety of four- and five- cylinder turbo-diesel engines, but the U.S. did get a version fitted with the long-lived 3.5-liter pushrod V-8 that Rover acquired from Buick in the Sixties. So equipped, the 1997 U.S. spec Defender had 182 horsepower and drove through a four-speed automatic gearbox. Land Rover has previously offered this 5.0-liter conversion with the Defender Works V8, which we drove in the U.K. back in 2018, and which the company claims is capable of dispatching the zero-to-60-mph benchmark in just 5.6 seconds in short-wheelbase form.

    The obvious difference between the earlier Works V8 and the Works V8 Trophy is the custard yellow paint scheme of the new car referencing the Camel Trophy that ran between 1980 and 2000, and which Land Rover supplied vehicles for. The cigarette sponsorship has obviously gone—and the color is now referred to as Eastnor Yellow, after Land Rover’s English test center—but the connection to the adventurous event is further emphasized by a substantial external roll cage and additional underbody protection, a raised air intake, and an electric winch. Other mechanical changes from the base Defender include bigger brakes and new telescopic dampers.

    Sadly for U.S. buyers, the Works V8 Trophy won’t be sold here, due to the base Defender’s lack of federal approval. For U.S. buyers looking for a reworked classic Defender, there are several options using cars old enough to be legally brought into the country. British tuner Twisted produces both a version powered by a 6.2-liter GM V-8 and a fully electrified version.

    But, in those parts of the world that will be able to buy it—Europe, Africa, parts of the Middle East, and Africa—it will cost a substantial $270,000 at current exchange rates. That is a significant increase over the approximate price of $210,000 that Land Rover Classic charged for the last Works V8, although buyers will have the chance to drive the vehicles at a three-day event at Eastnor, which the company says will help them to “create their own stories, battle scars, and patina.” That’s some expensive patina.

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