As production of one of Britain’s most beloved vehicles rolls to a halt, Sir Paul Smith has collaborated with Land Rover to give the Defender a gracious, bespoke send-off, says Dan Cooper
It’s been 67 years since the first Land Rover Defender was first manufactured, at a time when a 4×4 as dependable and as tenacious was just not available. Since the Defender’s release, being two years after the birth of British designer Sir Paul Smith, the Defender has remained an unflinching mainstay of British motoring.
Paul Smith spoke fondly of the model, as he unveiled his own “one-off” special edition in front of his flagship Mayfair store. Having owned many of the vehicles over the years, a more ideal advocate to complete the design scarcely exists.
“The Defender is a British icon, which is something I’m exceptionally proud of,” he mentioned. “I keep a Defender at my home in Italy which is in the middle of the countryside, so it’s the perfect vehicle to cope with the rugged terrain.”
Twenty-seven different colours were used on the vehicle’s exterior panels, each chosen by Paul himself. The interior is also swathed in lavish black leather and lined with blue stitching. Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations design team worked closely with Paul Smith to ensure the model was built entirely to his specification.
“My designs are known for their attention to detail,” Paul Smith continued, “so I didn’t want this Defender to be any different.
“For example, there is an image of a set of keys printed inside the glove compartment. Then there is a hand-painted bee on the roof, which is another little tongue-in-cheek reference to the countryside and the heritage of the car. Also, the traditional Defender clock has been replaced with a Paul Smith fascia.”
The completed product brings a judicious contemporary edge to a classic vehicle that sadly won’t be available much longer. Reworked traditional elements such as the Defender’s wing mirrors, door handles and wheels evokes what Sir Paul describes as a “feeling of luxury”.
Three other limited edition Defenders have also been announced in 2015, including the Autobiography, Heritage and Adventure models.
Images provided by Jaguar Land Rover