East Coast Defender is one of the pre-eminent Land Rover customizers in the United States, the company has 29 full-time employees and is made up of a mixture of Brits and Americans. They’re based in Kissimmee, Florida, and they’ve built a significant number of bespoke Defenders – all of which are quicker and more luxurious than any examples that left the Land Rover factory.
The soft top Defender you see here is their most recent creation, it’s called “Project Barbour” as it was built with significant input from the team at 123 year old British outfitter Barbour – to celebrate their Land Rover Defender Collection that’ll be sold in the USA by Orvis.
The build started with a strip down and an inspection of parts. It was decided to use an original (rebuilt) Rover V8 to keep the British heritage in place, the engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, and it rides on 16-inch Wolf Steel wheels fitted with BFGoodrich All Terrain tires.
LED lighting has been installed throughout as it offers more light for less amps, there’s a roll cage over the front cabin area for added safety in the event of a mishap off-road, and the soft top is a new unit from Rovers North.
The interior has been re-fitted with a MOMO Indy steering wheel, a centre console mounted Kenwood stereo system with Infinity speakers, and the seats have been trimmed in saddle leather with Barbour tartan centres.
If you’d like to read more about the Defender or see the cities and dates for it’s tour around the USA you can click here to visit Orvis.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAND ROVER DEFENDER
The Land Rover Defender was the successor to the Series III, it was originally called the Ninety or the One Ten (a reference to the wheelbase length in inches). As the Land Rover model range grew it was decided to rename the line to Defender 90 and Defender 110 to avoid any confusion.
To say the Defender had large shoes to fill would be a remarkable understatement. The Series I, Series II, Series IIA, and Series III Land Rovers took the world by storm and were very often the first motorised vehicle ever seen by people in developing nations.
The new Defender maintained the same basic structure as the Series vehicles, with a body-on-chassis design utilising a steel frame, a steel bulkhead, and aluminium body panels. Under the skin the Defender had been significantly updated with wider track axles, coil springs as opposed to leaf springs, a full-time 4×4 system borrowed from the Range Rover, and a lockable centre diff.
The interior had seen significant (and some would say overdue) upgrades over the Series Land Rovers, much improving the seats, sound-proofing, dashboard and instruments, and even offering amenities like air-conditioning and stereos.
Over the 3 decades of its production the Defender would get progressively more comfortable without sacrificing any of its raw off-road ability, and examples from the final few years of production are now highly sought after. Land Rover stopped making the Defender in early 2016 – largely due to increasingly stringent crash safety laws that the model couldn’t meet with its older-style body-on-frame structure.
Land Rover have announced more recently an intention to introduce a new Defender, likely with a unibody design and significantly updated styling. It’s widely hoped that Land Rover will stay true to the DNA of the model when they officially unveil the new Defender in 2019 – but only time will tell.