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Special Land Rover Defender Islay Edition Features Vintage Whisky Cask Wood

British car maker Land Rover recently unveiled its first heritage-themed special edition Defender, the Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition. And there’s a whisky twist.

A statement from Land Rover explains that this themed edition celebrates Spencer Wilks, managing director of the Rover Car Company and one of the founders of Land Rover, as well as celebrates the Isle of Islay, Scotland.

Islay is where the Land Rover name was born, as are some of the world’s greatest peated Scotch whiskies.

Land Rover Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition
British car maker Land Rover recently unveiled its first heritage-themed special edition Defender, the Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition. And there’s a whisky twist. (image via Land Rover)

Paul Barritt, director of Land Rover Classic, explained that the new “Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition” was specifically inspired by a Series IIa Land Rover owned and used by Spencer Wilks. That vehicle now forms part of the Land Rover Classic collection, and celebrates the Hebridean island where he took holiday.

In fact, the Wilks’ Laggan Estate on Islay was used to test early prototypes for Land Rover and in 1947, while driving his heavily modified Rover across the rugged landscape, the estate’s gamekeeper remarked that it must be a “Land Rover,” and that’s where the name was born.

This new edition is based on the same technical specification as the Classic Defender Works V8, and the Islay Edition is powered by a 405hp 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

Each one of these classics is comprehensively restored, re-engineered and upgraded, utilizing donor vehicles from 2012-2016. The Works V8 Islay Edition will be limited to 30 examples, with 17 available as a 90 short wheelbase and 13 available as a seven-seat 110 version.

Perhaps the most interesting detail of the new classic is its connection to the whisky heritage of Islay.

The central space of the Land Rover’s interior features a removable tray, complete with leather tabs, made from the oak of whisky barrels sourced from Islay’s Kilchoman Distillery.

Each tray features a wooden disc replicating the end of a whisky barrel, and it’s made from a specific piece of the wood that displays the authentic stenciled lettering, meaning every vehicle is one of a kind.

The disc is set into the tray, which is finished in American walnut wood veneer to complement the whisky barrel oak, finished with dovetail joints. The stenciled font theme, just like a genuine whisky barrel, carries on in the interior and includes the official Land Rover 75th anniversary logo. The base of each cup holder is also made from the whisky barrel wood.

The statement from Land Rover went on to explain that Kilchoman Distillery has a family connection to Spencer Wilks, whose granddaughter Kathy Wills established the distillery with her husband, Anthony, in 2005.

The Kilchoman whisky makers noted that a ‘639’ limited edition whisky is also being made in honor of the Defender Islay, and each client will be presented with a bottle to enhance their vehicle’s collectability.

Throughout the vehicle, oak wood veneer detailing extends to the rear loadspace floor, as well as the clock in the center of the dashboard.

The Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition is finished in Heritage Grey with a contrast roof and heavy-duty steel wheels finished in Limestone color.

Unique to the Works V8 Islay Edition is a side graphic reading ‘GXC 639C’ – the registration of Wilks’ Series IIa – which provides a subtle nod to the vehicle that inspired this themed version.

As has been the case for previous editions of Defender Works V8s, the Islay Edition features modern enhancements including LED headlights for enhanced visibility. These technical additions extend to comprehensive enhancements under the skin, which include uprated suspension and braking systems, tailored for superior on-road performance and dynamics.

The Defender Islay Edition is priced from £230,000 for the 90, and £245,000 for the 110.

For more information on Land Rover Classic, check out

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