The new Islay Edition is a birthday tribute to the iconic Defender from Land Rover Classic
The original Land Rover Defender has not been short on special editions during its 33-year production run (with many of those coming after its official end in 2016), but the firm’s ‘Classic’ division may just have created the ultimate version with the new Land Rover Defender Islay Edition.
Land Rover says the Islay Edition is inspired by the 1965 Series IIa owned and used by Spencer Wilks – one of the founders of Land Rover. Wilks also tested early prototypes on the Isle of Islay, Scotland – which gives the new car its name. The launch of the Islay Edition also marks Land Rover’s 75th Anniversary in 2023.
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The Islay Edition is based on the Classic Defender Works V8 which means there is a 5.0-litre, V8 petrol engine pumping out 400bhp and 515Nm of torque through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Despite the unassuming exterior, this Defender will go from 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds and reach a top speed of 106mph.
Donor vehicles are used to make this special edition Defender, although Land Rover says each car is comprehensively restored, re-engineered and upgraded, plus they’re restricted to models built from 2012 through to 2016.
At first glance, the Defender Works V8 Islay Edition looks like any other Defender but it features heavy-duty steel wheels finished in a special Limestone paint, the headlights are improved with LED units and there’s a side graphic of ‘GXC 639C’ – a nod to Wilks’ Series IIa registration. The colour choice is ‘Heritage Grey’, which extends to the rear mudflaps and the grille.
Underneath, the Islay Edition receives uprated suspension with revised coil springs and dampers and an improved braking system to deal with the extra power.
Further changes have been made to the cabin where there are details that pay homage to the Defender’s history. The seats, side trims, roof lining and dashboard get ‘Windsor Ebony’ leather and the centre console and dash are finished in the same Heritage Grey as the exterior.
A small plaque next to the gear lever tells the story of how Ian Duncan told Wilks that the Series I he was testing must be the new “Land” Rover – giving the company its name. A special tweed design created by the Islay Woollen Mill features throughout the interior.
Further tributes to Scotland come in the form of oak sourced from Kilchoman whiskey distillery barrels used on the central stowage space and the base of each cup holder.
The Islay Edition is available in both 90 and 110 bodystyles, with the short wheelbase costing from £230,000 and the 110 from £245,000. Exclusivity is assured because only 30 will be made, split between 17 for the 90 model and 13 for the 110.
Click here for our review of the Land Rover Defender Works V8…
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