Land Rover Defender Blog

Defender Assembly Line Interview #1

We wondered what it was like to work on the Defender assembly, so we asked a former Land Rover employee.

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

January 4, 2017

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year
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What was your specific role on the assembly line? What tasks did you perform?

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My first job as a qualified, young & naive engineer was at Land Rover Interior Trim, located at Solihull. I looked after interiors from then onwards. Worked on the Disco 1. Then the P38a before moving onto the Defender and then to Jaguar. From there, I went back to manage the original team I started in - Covering L322 (Range Rover) and Defender.

I designed the 300 TDI Defender carpet interiors, but made the mistake of assuming the body was symmetrically identical, as you would! Only to find out later one side is 5 mm longer than the other.

What was it like to work on the Defender assembly line?

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Great fun, better than the other lines, more banter. Occasionally, we meet for a dinner to talk about old times.

Have you owned any Land Rovers? Are you a fan of them?

Love them, have had 10 or more, currently own a 110 Puma, 101 Forward Control and a series 3 Lightweight

How did the production line change over the years?

Not much really, very labour intensive, to be honest (in my opinion) the company couldn’t care less about Defender and are only portraying the rose-tinted, caring image now for PR reasons. The track saw little investment and was seen as the poor relative, seeing less testing and more customer demonstrations.

Where did all the parts come from, were they shipped in, made on site e.t.c?

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Body made in plant, engines built in plant up to Tdci (then supplied by Ford). Most interior parts UK sourced.

What was the most interesting Defender you worked on?

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NAS 90, great fun and bloody quick! Did some military work which was great, was also around when the Judge Dredd cars were made. Also remember the Lama project being used for salt gritting.

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I drove a few 2.0 mpi Defenders they were great and if I remember were exclusively sold to the Italian police?

Do you have any funny anecdotes / stories that happened whilst you were there?

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I jumped in a Defender to go to a meeting, was in a rush so shoved it in to reverse, looked over my shoulder then proceeded to drive forward - though a wall! I was in a prototype with a revised gear box, bosses weren’t too happy!

What are currently up to?

I run 1stoverland.co.uk now as well as my estate agencies.

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Thanks to Patrick for the help with this article!

Find out more about the Defender the below books:

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