In the years following the Second World War, an Englishman and his brother, inspired by an ex-military Jeep they used for navigating the property, developed a utilitarian agricultural vehicle on their farm. As it happened, they worked for an automotive manufacturer by the name of Rover, and the Land Rover, one of the most iconic SUVs, was born.
Flash forward nearly 70 years, and East Coast Defender (ECD) is a Florida-based company founded by an Englishman and his brother… and their friend. The company’s entire existence is centered on making the most beautiful and carefully restored Land Rover Defenders possible. They essentially hand re-build the classic British off-roaders into custom-ordered chariots.
And now, the company has decided to help the classic Range Rover SUV realize its full potential. This is a big deal.
By 1970, the Land Rover was joined by an upmarket, but still wholly utilitarian sibling. The original Range Rover, now referred to as Range Rover Classic, or RRC, turned the doctrine that form should always follow function into an orthodox religion. On its debut, the seats were covered in vinyl, which is more than can be said about the plastic dashboard. The floors were carpetless, the steering was powerless, and the air conditioning was, well, the air wasn’t conditioned at all.
Eventually, Land Rover realized there was a mint to be made by offering a highly capable, go-anywhere vehicle that could double as an urban luxury liner. The modern Land Rover Range Rover lineup evolved from there.
By the time East Coast Defender (ECD) is done, the classic Range Rover will be a fully modernized, luxurious, and mud-splatteringly righteous machine that holds up every aspect of the Land Rover Range Rover badge with honor. “Our custom RRC will bring the car to the 21st Century, without sacrificing its classic heritage and originality,” said Elliot Humble, co-owner of ECD.
Elliot and crew are taking orders now. The process starts by selecting the year Rover to have restored, from 1970 to 1996. From there, potential customers chat with ECD’s lead designer, during which myriad options are discussed to make sure everything from the ten exterior and five interior colors, to the wheels and accessories (winch, roof rails, etc…) all form a cohesive look.
Engine choices include the Chevy V8 out of a Suburban, or for those with an acute addiction to acceleration, the 430-HP engine out of the last-generation Corvette.
“Each will have a different look and feel,” said Tom Humble, Elliot’s brother and ECD’s co-owner, “which means you’re not going to see 15 of the same car lined up at your children’s school or at the valet. They’ll supersede everything currently being built and will be as comfortable as jumping into a brand-new Range Rover.”
Once all the decisions are made, ECD will find the right “donor” vehicle, strip it down until it’s little more than a bare chassis, and build it back up. While modern components abound — even the dashboard and center console feature WiFi and wireless charging — the ECD team is careful to retain the vehicle’s authentic feel. The original seats are kept, for example, albeit highly upgraded based on your leather and stitching choices.
ECD expects to complete its first RRC in early 2018, but you can place your order today.