JLR may have ceased production of the Land Rover Defender with the last one rolling off of the production line in 2016, but Mark Water Pumps certainly hasn’t stopped making its vital components. The company, which supplied the original equipment water pump for 16 years from 1990 has been checking through its aftermarket back catalogue and has established that it can still supply water pumps to cover an amazing 43 years of the vehicles 68 year history.
David Lewis, plant manager of Mark Water Pumps Limited comments; “we manufacture and supply automotive water pumps and engine ancillaries to various OE vehicle manufacturers, as well as a large part of the OES dealer market and the general aftermarket. So, the end of Defender production got us thinking – exactly how many years of defender production can we still support? It turns out, quite a bit…
The first Land Rovers
The initial Land Rover prototype was designed and built in 1947. Built to ‘rove the land’ this all-purpose vehicle was influenced by the Willys-Overland Jeep and was released as the Series 1 in 1948. Under the bonnet was a 1595cc engine boasting 50bhp, mounted to an 80 inch wheelbase chassis. Thanks to the all-terrain nature of the vehicle, it caught the attention of the British Army who promptly ordered its first batch. Priced at £450 the series 1 continued production through to 1949.
Come the 1950s a facelift was introduced, sporting two exposed headlamps and the 4×4 system was replaced by an interchangeable two or four wheel drive. The engine increased capacity at first to 1997cc and then a 2052cc diesel engine (both producing 52bhp) was made available as an option. Its wheelbase was increased to 86 inches and a long wheelbase (107in) was introduced.
The Series 2
When most people think of the Land Rover Defender the one that usually springs to mind is the Series 2 and 2A .With its broad side sills and rounded shoulders it certainly looked the part of a proper workhorse. With the release of the Series 2 came a 2.5 litre engine. Entering the swinging sixties the Series 2A was launched, again with an increase in engine size (2286cc, 62bhp diesel), and this was followed by the Series 2A forward control model offering six-cylinder petrol and four-cylinder diesel engines.
This is where our story starts as the earliest models we can supply a water pump for were built from ’63 onwards. We supply them literally all over the world as the rugged ‘rover found its way literally all over the planet and has a habit of keeping going.
In 1966 the 500,000th Land Rover was produced and at the end of the decade the headlamps were moved onto the front wings.
The Series 3
Creature comforts were the name of the game in the 1970s and the Series 3 offered such extravagances as an optional fresh-air heater! For a number of years the design stayed pretty much the same and the milestone of the 1 Millionth Land Rover being built was achieved. In 1979 the option of a 3528cc V8 engine offered a large capacity increase over the previous 2.5 litre; this also signified the introduction of permanent four-wheel drive controlled via a central differential lock.
Throughout the 1980s a number of small tweaks were made up until the arrival of the Series 3 replacing One-Ten. This offered a number of improvements, not least coil springs replacing the antiquated leaf springs of previous models. Engines came in the form of a 2495cc diesel, a 2495cc petrol and a new 2495cc turbo-diesel; the V8 was made available in 1985.
A name synonymous with Land Rover, the Defender was launched in 1990 boasting a 2495cc turbo diesel injection engine. An increase to 111bhp was introduced in 1994, followed by a five cylinder 122bhp offering in 1998. 2007 saw the five cylinder engine replaced with a four cylinder turbo diesel and six-speed gearbox. The interior was also refined to modern standards.
In the twilight years of the Defender a 2.2 diesel engine replaced the 2.4 litre and in 2013 Land Rover celebrated their 65th year. Sadly, all good things must come to an end and in 2016 workers at the Solihull factory waved off the final Defender produced with a tear in their eye and a song in their hearts.
The Defender lives on
Although the Defender may never be produced again it will never be forgotten. With over 2 Million of the vehicles manufactured over a 68 year period there are still plenty on the road. And thanks to their ruggedness, reliability and soul there will be for many years to come.
Mark Water Pumps Limited (MWPL) supplied Land Rover with the OE water pump for the Defender for a 16 year period from 1990 to 2006. Working closely with Land Rover the pumps were designed, tested and manufactured all in-house at MWPL’s Colwyn Bay based facility to Ford quality standards. The pump was designed as a dual pump assembly feeding not only the engines cooling system but also the vehicles power steering. Mark Water Pumps Limited also provided in-house product validation and warranty analysis for the customer; a great help where resources are concerned for a vehicle manufacturer.
David Lewis, plant manager of Mark Water Pumps Limited shares his thoughts: “Working with Land Rover is a great pleasure and a real challenge. Over the years we have supplied water pumps to Land Rover for not only the Defender, but also the Land Rover Discovery, Freelander and Range Rover models including the Range Rover sport. For such rugged vehicles which are exposed to different types of environment a hardy and reliable water pump is called for, so the design and manufacturing needs to be of the very highest quality. We still supply replacement units for all these models, and will continue to do so while there is a demand. “
The replacement for the Defender is rumoured to be entering production in 2019 and certainly has some very big and muddy shoes to fill.