Land Rover Is Selling a US-Exclusive Defender That Comes With a Very Special Adventure

The English marque is resurrecting the spirit of a historic off-road event with the new Trophy Edition Defender

The new 2022 Land Rover Defender Trophy Edition, a limited-edition SUV that comes with entry into the off-road Trophy Competition
The new Land Rover Defender Trophy Edition includes the opportunity to take part in an off-road competition.
Land Rover North America

Every automaker wants to pay homage to an older, wilder time of motoring. By giving a sports car a paint job that represents a historic racer, taking design inspiration from record breakers, or building in the style of legendary competition vehicles, a company can tap into an endless emotional well among casual car lovers and serious gearheads alike, selling a ton of metal in the process. But let’s face it, many of these are marketing gimmicks.

Not so with the new Land Rover Defender Trophy Edition, a U.S.-exclusive, limited-edition model announced on Thursday. The SUVs, limited to just 220 examples and on sale in August, take their inspiration from the mythical Camel Trophy off-road competition that ran from 1980 to 2000. That’s obvious from the vehicles’ color scheme, evoking the Sandglow yellow that signified Camel Trophy entrants, even if Land Rover doesn’t mention Camel, the cigarette sponsor of the original competition, by name. 

Don’t worry, there’s more to these off-roaders than a heritage name and a couple coats of paint. Those who buy a Trophy Edition will also get the exclusive opportunity to participate in not one, but two “extreme adventure competitions.” 

“With 220 Defender Trophy Edition vehicles sold exclusively in the U.S., each will come with an opportunity for a two-person entry to a one-day off-road adventure in the Land Rover U.S. Trophy Competition,” Land Rover North America said. “Up to 90 teams (six waves of 15 teams maximum on a first come, first served basis) will compete at the legendary Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. starting from October 11, 2021.” 

Yes, that’s the Biltmore, the largest private home in the entire U.S., built in the late 19th century for George and Edith Vanderbilt. Land Rover actually has a partnership with the estate, regularly hosting excursions on the sprawling grounds through their publicly accessible Driving Center, one of a few around the country. While the Trophy Competition certainly won’t be as harrowing as the namesake event, which took place in far-flung locales from the Amazon to Madagascar to Mongolia, it will similarly ask contestants to rely on more than the mettle of their vehicle.

A Land Rover Defender Trophy Edition facing down an off-road trail, like one at the company's Biltmore Driving Center
It may look easy enough, at least until you’re in the driver’s seat.
Land Rover North America

“Competitors will face a number of on- and off-road challenges, including physical and team building obstacles,” the company said. “Expert one-on-one coaching will be provided as part of the adventure, giving customers a unique opportunity to develop extreme driving techniques and skills in their own vehicle, before putting their training to the test.”

If you, by some blessing from Joe Camel, manage to win the event, your team will then go on to compete at another Trophy Competition, this time at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire, England, “the spiritual home of Land Rover testing and development,” in 2022. 

Now, to withstand the punishment awaiting drivers in North Carolina, the Trophy Edition Defenders have indeed been bulked up, with all-terrain upgrades like an expedition roof rack and winch kit. The best part of all, from where we’re standing, is that it’s not even the most expensive Defender trim available (and far less than the old-school V8 Trophy Editions that were never going to make it stateside), with prices set at $90,000. 

If you think you’ve got what it takes to actually take your off-roader off-road, against other Defender owners, you can learn more about the limited-edition Defenders and the Trophy Competition here.

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