Land Rover's Limited Run of Heavy-Duty V8 Defenders Pays Tribute to Legendary Off-Road Race

Remember Camel Trophy? Of course you do, and Land Rover does, too.

Land Rover | Nick Dimbleby

Back in 2018, Land Rover celebrated its 70th anniversary by launching the Defender Works V8 series, a run of final batch ladder-frame Defenders pairing a 399-horsepower, 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 with ZF's eight-speed automatic, along with every drivetrain upgrade found in the catalog. Now, it's time for 25 more to be converted by Land Rover Classic. Available in both 90 and 110 Station Wagon variants, they'll all be finished in Eastnor Yellow and Narvik Black, complemented by heavy-duty 16-inch steel wheels in body-color to remind you of the good old Camel Trophy Days.

The Land Rover Defender Works V8 Trophy also comes with upgraded brakes and suspension, a front winch, multi-point expedition cage, roof rack, underbody protection, A-bar, raised air intake, spotlights, and mud-terrain tires. Inside, people willing to pay at least $267,000 for one will find a full black Windsor leather interior, including Recaro sports seats with contrasting yellow stitch detailing and a Land Rover Trophy clock face by Elliot Brown. What's more, this year, V8 Trophy customers will be invited to compete in an exclusive three-day adventure at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, which Land Rover calls "the spiritual home of all-terrain training, testing and development."

Land Rover | Nick Dimbleby

As you might've guessed, the Works V8 Trophy won't be offered in North America.

Running from 1981 to 1998 as a Land Rover-sponsored event, the Camel Trophy saw Series III, Defender 90 and 110 trucks compete for just six years, only to continue as support trucks for 15 Camel Trophy races in total. All of those fully-kitted Series Land Rovers were actually four-cylinder diesels instead of gasoline V8s.

The old 3.5-liter Rover V8 first made it into the Series III Stage 1 V8, a truck rated at 90 horsepower in 1979. For the One-Tens and Ninety Defenders of the 1980s, Land Rover first upgraded the V8 to 113 hp, and then to 135 hp from 1987 on. In America, the NAS Defender debuted in 1992 with the 182-hp, fuel-injected, 3.9-liter V8, linked to a four-speed automatic.

In Europe, the real fun began in 1998 when Land Rover launched its limited run of 50th Anniversary Defender 90s with V8s tuned to 190 horsepower. Twenty years later, the 2018 Defender Works V8 more than doubled the output with its naturally-aspirated 5.0, by which time the original Land Rover Defender had been out of production for two years.

With just 25 examples offered in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle-East, Africa and Oceania, the Land Rover Defender Works V8 Trophy offers 399 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, and 405 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm through the "Pistol Shifter." It, of course, features all-wheel drive and a two-speed transfer box, heavy-duty front and rear differentials, and a torque-biasing center differential.

The steering system remains a power-assisted recirculating ball, battling with live axles upgraded to coil springs and telescopic dampers, with a Panhard rod, radius arms and an anti-roll bar at the front. At the rear, the truck features an A-frame, trailing links, and an anti-roll bar as well. Four-piston brakes with 335mm/300mm vented discs complete the handling package, while off-road, you can count on the steelies wrapped in 235/85R16 mud-terrain tires.

Once the classic Defender was discontinued, several aftermarket companies stocked up on trucks to build V8-powered hot rods for the 2020s. Next to the likes of Twisted Automotive and Overfinch with its new Heritage Defender, now Land Rover-owned Bowler also came up with a 566-horsepower supercharged V8 110, priced at $260,000.

We called that expensive at the time, yet here we are with the Trophy trucks from Land Rover Classic costing $267,000 in short-wheelbase form. On the plus side, during that exclusive three-day adventure at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, Land Rover Defender Works V8 Trophy drivers can get tips on how to get sufficiently muddy from racing and stunt driver Jessica Hawkins, and Bob Ives, winner of the 1989 Amazon Camel Trophy in a Defender 110 with his brother Joe Ives.

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