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Land Rover builds its 2 millionth Defender, with help from Bear Grylls

The Land Rover Defender may be on its way out, but the iconic off-roader racked up an impressive achievement ahead of its final bow.

Land Rover recently built what it considers the 2 millionth vehicle in a line that dates back to 1967. Note that this tally includes both the current Defender and the preceding “Series” models, which were admittedly pretty close in design to the Defender.

The British carmaker couldn’t just let that milestone roll off the assembly line unnoticed. It decided to turn the 2 millionth Defender into a one-off special edition, and invited a team of Defender fans to help build it, including survival expert Bear Grylls.

The man who never shies away from drinking his own urine on television called the Defender the “unsung hero” of the various survival shows he’s been on, and said he respected the vehicle for its “rugged reliability.”

Defender No. 2 million is distinguished by a map of Red Wharf Bay — where the first Land Rover was “designed” as a drawing in the sand — engraved into one of its fenders, Indus Silver satin paint, Santorini Black wheels and trim, and special badging.

Related: Land Rover Defender limited editions unveiled

On the inside, the seats feature special graphics stitched into their headrests, as well as plaque signed by everyone who worked on the vehicle. The Defender also wears license plate S90 HUE, a reference to the HUE 166 plate number issued to the first production Land Rover Series I way back in 1948.

Land Rover plans to auction off the 2 millionth Defender at a special event conducted by Bonhams, with all proceeds going to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Born Free Foundation.

It’ll be interesting to see if the person that wins this highly collectible Land Rover has the guts to get that satin silver paint muddy.

Even though they won’t get the keys to this special vehicle, the rest of the world’s Land Rover fans, or indeed anyone interested in cars, can appreciate its significance. The impending close of Defender production mean the end of vehicles that can trace their lineage directly back to that first production Land Rover.

All eyes now turn to the next-generation Defender, which is expected to retain the outgoing model’s off-road ability, but with a much more modern, car-like character. It will be a major evolutionary leap forward, but then again sophistication was never part of the Defender’s charm.