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How Land Rover's iconic Defender could make an unexpected comeback

2015 Land Rover Defender
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Production of the iconic Land Rover Defender ground to a halt about six months ago. The off-roader still had a loyal customer base, but it was axed both because it no longer complied with the European Union’s strict emissions regulations, and because it was expensive to build. Enthusiasts who missed out on buying one new might soon get a second chance because a British businessman is working on resurrecting it.

The project is the brainchild of Jim Ratcliffe, a 63-year-old who made billions by founding a chemical company named Ineos. Ratcliffe also happens to be a big Defender fan, and he’s currently talking to top Jaguar — Land Rover executives about bringing the off-roader back from the dead. The negotiations are ongoing, so it’s too early to tell if Ratcliffe wants to simply buy the rights to build the Defender, or acquire the entire production line. Either way, his plan involves assembling the truck in the United Kingdom, according to British newspaper The Times.

Ratcliffe’s plan faces several hurdles. Specifically, he will need to find a new engine suitable for powering the Defender, because the 2.2-liter turbodiesel is no longer compliant with European regulations. The Defender has a relatively big engine bay, luckily, so finding an existing mill that fits shouldn’t be complicated. Another issue will be giving the Defender a new name. It won’t be able to wear a Land Rover emblem, and it won’t be able to use the Defender nameplate because the moniker is set to return on a brand new second-gen model before the end of the decade.

Read more: Driving the last of the Defenders

And while none of these issues are insurmountable, there’s no guarantee that the project will come to fruition. Jaguar – Land Rover hasn’t shownan interest in selling off the Defender’s design, and it hasn’t publicly commented on the negotiations. We’ll keep our ears to the ground and bring you more details on this developing story as soon as they’re available.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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