Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Land Rover builds James Bond-inspired Defender rally car

Land Rover is celebrating the James Bond franchise’s 60th anniversary while highlighting the Defender’s off-road prowess. It built a one-off Defender 90 with a 007-inspired livery for Mark Higgins to drive during the North Wales leg of the 2022 Bowler Defender Challenge.

Copying one of the SUVs that have starred in James Bond movies over the past six decades would have been far too easy. Instead, the British firm gave the Defender 90 a one-of-a-kind look characterized by black paint and gold graphics. The sides and the roof feature a commemorative “007 60” logo, while the names of the various James Bond movies appear on the hood and on the rear door.

Graphics aside, the Defender is identical to the units that are modified by Bowler to participate in the factory-backed one-make race series. It gains 18-inch wheels, a redesigned suspension system, modified subframes, a snorkel, additional cooling, a full roll cage, and racing harnesses, among other upgrades. Power comes from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine called P300 in Land Rover-speak and tuned to deliver 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It spins the four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Higgins was the natural choice when the time came to find a pilot. Born on the Isle of Man, which is home to one of the greatest and most difficult motorcycle races in the world, he competed in the World Rally Championship (WRC) between 1990 and 2013 and won the British Rally Championship three times. He has also worked as a stunt driver in four James Bond movies: “Quantum of Solace” (2008), “Skyfall” (2012), “Spectre” (2015) and “No Time to Die” (2021). Land Rover’s off-roaders have played significant roles in many James Bond films.

Land Rover’s commemorative Defender will make its competition debut this Saturday, March 26.

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