Gosh, we miss Land Rover’s Camel Trophy. Not that any of us ever partook in the annual expeditionary competition when it ran between 1980 and 1998, but we just can’t get enough weird fake nostalgia for this wild off-road competition that came to be known as the Olympics of 4×4. The Germans have a word for this untargeted faux-nostalgia—sehnsucht.
The Brits have no such word, but it appears Land Rover is reckoning with the absence of the Camel Trophy just as wistfully as we are. In celebration of that bygone 4×4 competition, Land Rover Classic revealed a limited edition of the classic Defender that hearkens back to when the slab-sided truck was used more as a tool and agrarian device than a semi-posh inner-city runabout or country estate shuttle.
Well, at least in theory. As the new so-called Defender Works V-8 Trophy is based on the 150-unit run of the prior Defender Works V-8, it’s a very cool and very conceptually odd iteration of the legendary SUV. The original lot of Defender Works V-8s were created in-house by Land Rover Classic using 2012–2016 Defenders with less than 20,000 miles on the odometer and upfitted with a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8, higher-performance suspension, and a leather-wrapped interior.
So, not exactly the same ride-hard, never-die gravel-chewing attitude of the Land Rovers that tackled exotic locales, but as a spiritual call-back, it’s bang-on-the-money. Aside from its delicious Camel Trophy-aping Eastnor Yellow paint and contrasting Narvik Black accents, the Works V-8 Trophy also sports a set of body-colored steel wheels and requisite “Trophy” graphics.
Keeping in-step with the expedition theme, Land Rover Classic outfits each Works V-8 Trophy with a suite of rock-bashing, mud-slinging hardware, including a front winch, multi-point expedition cage, roof rack, A-bar, raised intake, upgraded underbody protection, LED roof spotlights, and mud-ready all-terrain tires. Not bad for a homage.
Underneath all this extra kit and caboodle is the same powertrain as the Works V-8, meaning the Trophy’s 5.0-liter V-8 spins out 400 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque through a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission; quite a far cry from the Defender’s usual diesel four-cylinder. Aside from its mud-spec tires, the Trophy’s performance should be close to that of the original Works V-8, meaning 0-60 mph takes just 5.6 seconds as the boxy SUV makes its way toward a top speed of 106 mph.
As the mud and dust rush by your window, you’ll be nestled in the finest comfort afforded by the ancient Defender platform. You might be rubbing shoulders with your passengers, but hopefully, the plush leather Recaro sport seats, yellow stitching, and bespoke Land Rover Trophy clock dial will distract you from the cramped quarters.
Each buyer of the Works V-8 Trophy is invited to the owners-only off-road adventure at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, United Kingdom. Over the course of three days, owners will become intimate with their new farm-toy while participating in a series of challenges and workshops inspired by “famous global adventures and competitions spanning more than seven decades of Land Rover production.” Yeah, way to beat around the legal bush, Land Rover—that sounds like Camel Trophy Lite if there ever was one. Let’s call it Camel Blue Trophy, for authenticity.
After slapping their name and country flag onto their respective Defender, each new owner will work with off-road experts and brand ambassadors to navigate the 66-mile route, some of which participated in the original events such as Bob Ives, winner of the 1989 Camel Trophy. Although this is a rather exclusive event, the winner of the challenges will receive an unspecified grand prize.
If this sounds right up your alley, we hope you have deep pockets and a hook-up at Land Rover Classic. The Defender Works V-8 Trophy comes in either two-door 90 or four-door 110 configurations, with the 90 starting at £195,000, or a whopping $270,000 at the time of this writing. They’re only building 25 of these special editions, too, so get your name on the order books ASAP. Once you do, give us a call—we’d love to play co-driver.
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