The Defender Works v8 Islay Edition - A tribute to land rovers origins

Posted 6th June 2023

The Defender Works v8 Islay Edition - A tribute to land rovers origins

Land Rover Classic has proudly unveiled the latest addition to their lineup, the Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition, which represents a true testament to the brand's heritage and innovation. This exceptional vehicle serves as a fitting tribute to Spencer Wilks, who not only served as the Managing Director of the Rover Car Company but also played a fundamental role in the founding of Land Rover.  

By drawing inspiration from Wilks' personal 1965 Land Rover Series IIa, the Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition encapsulates the essence of his legacy while also paying homage to the picturesque Isle of Islay in Scotland - the birthplace of the Land Rover name.

Both the Isle of Islay and the Defender have left an indelible mark on history, and this edition serves as a celebration of their profound influence.

A Tribute to Land Rover’s Origins

During the early stages of Land Rover's development, Wilks’ put vehicles to the test on his Laggan Estate located on the picturesque Isle of Islay in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It was within the breathtaking landscapes of this historic location that the Land Rover name was conceived, and now, the Islay Edition pays homage to this significant event. This special vehicle not only embodies the spirit of adventure and exploration but also captures the essence of the Isle of Islay itself, with its rich history and natural beauty.

In 2023, we will celebrate 75 years of Land Rover. Spencer Wilks and the Isle of Islay are an important part of our history, and the Classic Defender Works V8 Islay Edition is a fitting way to help us celebrate a landmark anniversary. It references a special vehicle in our collection, Spencer Wilks’ beautiful Series IIa, and is influenced by the special products and incredible nature of Islay itself. The authenticity, modern engineering, and exquisite execution from our skilled engineers and technicians, make this limited-edition Classic Defender a very special vehicle for our discerning clients looking for the ultimate heritage Land Rover.

- Paul Barritt, Director, Land Rover Classic

Timeless Exterior 

Drawing inspiration from the iconic 1965 original's Mid Grey exterior, the Islay Edition boasts a captivating finish in Heritage Grey, further enhanced by a contrasting roof and robust steel wheels finished in Limestone. Complementing the vehicle's elegant design, the wheel arches are also donned in Heritage Grey, elevating the refined aesthetics.

Upon closer inspection, an intriguing side graphic catches the eye, displaying the distinctive registration 'GXC 639C' - the very same registration that adorned Wilks' Series IIa. This subtle yet meaningful detail serves as a heartfelt tribute to the vehicle that inspired this exceptional rendition of the timeless classic defender.

The Defender Works V8 Islay Edition Exterior

Continuing the tradition of previous Defender Works V8 editions, the Islay Edition incorporates modern enhancements such as LED headlights for enhanced visibility. These technical upgrades extend beneath the surface, including uprated suspension and braking systems, tailored for superior on-road performance and dynamics. Build numbers will be split between short-wheelbase ‘90’ models and the more versatile ‘110’.

Authentic Interior

While the exterior catches the eye, it’s the interior that truly captivates our attention. Beautifully reflecting its deep connection to the Isle of Islay and the birthplace of Land Rover with thoughtful touches and incredible attention to detail.

The moment you enter, you'll be greeted by the opulent Land Rover Windsor Ebony leather, which adorns the Premium Defender seats, side trim, doors, roof lining, and dashboard. From there you will spot the body colour detail surrounding the new modern features including the centre console and Classic Infotainment System, that now also incorporates satellite navigation, DAB radio and Bluetooth into an original display. 

The Defender Works V8 Islay Edition Interior

As your eyes explore the interior, you'll notice a special plaque beside the gear lever that recounts the captivating story of how the Land Rover name came to be. It serves as a reminder of the rich history and legacy that underpins this remarkable vehicle.

Throughout the cabin, the subtle links to the Isle of Islay are artfully woven into the design. The Islay Woollen Mill's expertly crafted tweed finds its place in various thoughtful details, adding a touch of timeless elegance. In a departure from the norm for a Classic Defender, all the footwells have been carefully carpeted, introducing an unexpected element of luxury that enhances your comfort. 

The removable console tray in the central stowage also has bespoke detail. It features the oak of whisky barrels sourced from the local Kilchoman Distillery which was established in 2005 by Kathy Wills, Wilks’ granddaughter. This oak wood veneer detail beautifully extends to the rear loadspace floor, and clock on the centre console.

The Defender Works V8 Islay Edition Interior2


You might be wondering if this Special Edition’s performance lives up to its impeccable interior. But we will let you decide that for yourself. For starters, the Islay Edition is based on the Classic Defender Works V8, meaning there is a 5.0-litre, V8 petrol engine pumping out 405bhp and 515 Nm of torque through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox. This allows for the vehicle to hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds from standstill.

The Defender Works V8 Islay Edition Engine

Each example is carefully chosen and re-engineered. The Defender Suspension Upgrade Kit features uniquely tuned suspension that’s tailored for enhanced on-road comfort and dynamics, with revised coil spring rate and dampers. Also included is the Handling Upgrade Kit, offering upgraded Works V8 specification brake discs, pads and callipers for superior stopping power.

Ready to take on today

As expected, the Islay Edition is a limited run with only 30 unique models available. Among them, 17 are 90 short wheelbase models and 13 are seven-seat 110 wheelbase models. To add to their exclusivity, both variants come with a price tag of £230,000 for the 90 and £245,000 for the 110. 

Explore our finance offers on brand new Land Rover Defender’s here at Dick Lovett Land Rover Melksham or book a test drive today. Our friendly team will be delighted to help.

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