Land Rover fans have welcomed the return of the original Defender body shape to Midlands manufacturing.
The last of the classic off-roaders rolled off Jaguar Land Rover (JLR)’s Solihull production line in 2016.
The production of new 4x4s with the Defender’s familiar shape – set to cost around £200,000 – is due to start at Derbyshire company Bowler Motorsport.
Enthusiasts said they would be the “best-ever” Defender-style car but beyond the wallets of ordinary fans.
Richard Smith, from the Association of Land Rover Clubs, said: “Bowler are synonymous with building racing vehicles and it’s great they are retaining the original shape.
“It’s going to be a specialist car that’s out of the price range of most people but I think it will win a lot of fans and it’s really good for the region.”
A spokesperson for the Leicestershire-based Viking 4×4 Club added: “The general consensus is that it’s the best version of a Defender ever but none of our members are wealthy enough to afford it.
“Even if they could, they’d be scared to use it off-road because they wouldn’t want to scratch or damage such an expensive vehicle.”
Motoring journalist Quentin Willson said: “It’s great the silhouette of the Defender lives on.
“It was one of the most recognisable shapes of any car in the world.
“It’s also great that it’s a Derbyshire-based company and they will be made just up the road [from where JLR is based].
“It’s horrendously expensive but it’s bespoke and there’s a lot of clever ingenuity in it.”
Belper-based Bowler, which was founded in 1985, was granted the licence for the shape by JLR, after being bought by the company in 2019.
It said the vehicles – codenamed CSP 575 – which will include a supercharged engine and a high-strength chassis, will be available from 2021.
Calum McKechnie, Bowler’s general manager, said: “We specialise in designing and engineering vehicles for specialist rally events and there’s a huge amount of heritage events within Derbyshire.”
He added it was exciting to use, “that historic and iconic shape that everybody loves”.
In 2019, JLR announced it would build its next-generation Defenders in Slovakia.
Michael van der Sande, the managing director of JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations, said the firm was “excited” to announce its first major project since its purchase of Bowler.