This Land Rover Defender started life as a 1988 model, very early in the model’s production run. More recently it’s been significantly upgraded with a Corvette LS3 V8, a bespoke interior, and Fox Performance suspension.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its performance upgrades, this Defender was bought by Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, it’s currently registered in Montana and offered for sale out of California.
Fast Facts – A Corvette-Powered Defender
- This Defender started out as a standard 1988 model, in fact it pre-dates the model name “Defender” by two years as it wasn’t used officially until 1990.
- The Land Rover Defender was developed as a successor to the Series Land Rovers that had been built from 1948 until the 1980s.
- The Defender has a steel ladder chassis, live axles on coil springs front and rear, and a two-speed transfer case offering both high and low range.
- The example you see here has been upgraded extensively, it’s now powered by a Corvette LS3 V8, it rides on uprated suspension and brakes, and it has a slew of interior improvements including Recaro bucket seats, air conditioning, and more.
Why Is It Called A Defender?
Interestingly when the vehicle that would later be named the Defender was first introduced it was simply known as either the Land Rover 90 or the Land Rover 110 depending on the wheelbase.
It wasn’t until the Land Rover Discovery was introduced in 1989 that the British four wheel drive manufacturer began to think about giving an official model name to the rugged and boxy vehicle it’s most famous for.
The name Defender was likely chosen due to the vehicle’s use by armed forces around the world, including the British Army and Royal Air Force.
The Defender name was officially applied to the model range for the short, long, and extra long wheelbase models from 1990 onwards and the earlier vehicles are now typically retroactively given the same title.
The Corvette-Powered Defender Shown Here
When the Defender model family was first designed in the early 1980s it’s highly unlikely that they ever considered it would one day be fitted with a 6.2 liter V8 producing 430 bhp.
The engine bay was already large enough to fit the significantly smaller 3.5 liter Rover V8, and it didn’t take long for enterprising Land Rover owners to begin working on their own engine swaps.
The desire for powerful, high-end Defenders that rival the G Wagens from German rival Mercedes has been strong for years – in fact it’s somewhat surprising that Land Rover themselves didn’t do a better job of cashing in on it.
The modified Defender you see here is the work of Urban Automotive, for this vehicle they opted to keep it looking relatively stock from the outside and focus their attention on performance upgrades under the surface.
The most significant modification lies in the engine bay, now home to a 6.2 liter LS3 V8 that’s best known for its use in the Corvette. It’s also offered as a crate engine by Chevrolet, it produces 430 bhp at 5,900 rpm and 425 lb ft of torque at 4,600 rpm.
Power is sent back through a modern 6-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. The original live axles are in place front and back, through they now ride on Fox performance shock absorbers and HD shock turrets have been fitted.
Powder-coated HD sway bars are also installed, as are new end links, and steering bars. Disc brakes are fitted front and back to ensure adequate stopping power, and it now rides on 18 inch by 9 inch Coastline Defender alloy wheels shod with 285/60R18 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A K02 tires.
The interior of the vehicle has been similarly upgraded, it has front Recaro bucket seats, rear folding seats, a Puma Defender dashboard, and a custom centre console with cubby box.
It also has electric windows, heated front and rear screens, air conditioning, and Pioneer stereo speakers as well as a Pioneer TS-WX120A amplified subwoofer system.
This is a Defender that would likely already fetch a solid price at auction, so it’ll be interesting to see how it does given the addition of celebrity ownership – this vehicle has been owned by 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button for the past three years and it’s being sold out of his stable.
If you’d like to read more about this Defender or place a bid you can visit the listing here on Collecting Cars, it’s being sold out of Los Angeles, California.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.