・Fully restored and customised at a cost of over £40k
・Modern air conditioning
・Original running gear so eligible for US import
*Vehicle had previously sustained Category D Damage in September 2000*
Few vehicles can claim to be an icon but present in various forms since its original inception in 1948 until its eventual end of production in 2016, the classic Land Rover Defender can justifiably lay claim to the title. Though of course they weren’t always called ‘Defender’; although it’s how we commonly refer to all of them, in fact the name was only adopted in the early nineties to avoid confusion with the then-upcoming Discovery. As the end of production drew near, understanding the weight of their task, Jaguar Land Rover took their time to design the replacement model, which was eventually launched in 2019.
By nature a very adaptable vehicle, many variations have been derived from the original Land Rover chassis and in recent decades the trend towards customisation and personalisation has really taken off, with a variety of specialists providing options ranging from bolt-on upgrades to complete re-imaginings of what a Defender can be. On more recent entrant to this market is Viezu who have expanded from remapping and tuning into restoration and customisation, and whose work we see here.
During its lifetime, the Defender recipe has remained consistent and although compromised in many ways when viewed through the lens of modern vehicle design, the love for the classic Defender has, if anything, grown since its demise. The Land Rover community goes from strength to strength and, reflecting the diversity of applications of the chassis over the years, is a broad church and welcomes all comers, including the tastefully modified.
This example started life in 1987 as a 2.5 turbo diesel Defender 90 in farmyard green (possibly not the genuine colour name). Acquired by the vendor’s family in late 2015, it was subsequently registered under the name of his son. Their aim was to build a bespoke customised version and they set about working with Viezu on a variety of upgrades. Once complete, they decided to go further and went for the version 2.0 VIP spec which is what you see today. The sum total of the work carried is extensive:
・Mechanical and electrical: rebuilt turbo and new alternator, bespoke modern air conditioning unit installed, clutch slave cylinder replaced, exhaust replaced, poly bushed, 1 inch lowering springs and new shocks fitted, front lower control arm replaced, wheel alignment carried out, largely rewired and new fuse/ relay board installed, new battery with new jumper points in engine bay, central locking to front doors and alarm with tracker installed.
・Exterior: full respray in Range Rover Aintree green, custom gloss black grill set with light surrounds installed, LED lights front and rear, all three doors replaced with new items and hinges replaced all round, heated front windscreen, panoramic side and rear windows (heated at the rear), carbon fibre bonnet, gloss black door mirrors, new rear and side steps, new bumper with LED Daylight Running Lights, upgraded metal side and top vents finished in gloss black, new seals all round including all doors, windows and roof, Sawtooth wheels and suitably chunky tyres, fully undersealed and finished with a new set of mud flaps.
・Interior: dash replaced with later Puma-style item housing a custom instrument cluster fitted with calibrated LED backlit dials, centre console upgraded to house double DIN touch screen sat nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth phone integration, new speakers front and rear. Custom front and rear Exmoor trim seats with custom matching cubby box, handbrake and gearstick gaiters installed, and dashboard and door cards trimmed to match. New seatbelts throughout. Rear bulkhead removed and bracing bar installed to improve rear legroom. Bespoke Puma Defender style rear load area window surrounds flocked ad installed. New suede headlining with leather hand stitched sun visors. Sound deadening installed throughout.
Having completed the build, the owner has had some time to enjoy the car but now finds himself with too many cars on the drive and has decided to let this one go to a new owner.
The car came with limited paperwork when it arrived with the current owners but has had every stage of the build fully documented and is accompanied by a sheaf of invoices and certification from Viezu.
Those familiar with 1987 Defender interiors will find a rather different experience inside this one. Rather than the farmer-friendly, utilitarian 2 front seats and benches in the rear, instead there is a beautifully crafted bespoke interior covered with leather and suede and reconfigured in the rear with 2 fold down forward-facing seats. As befits the recent build, everything is as-new, the only exception being the gear knob which is a hint of the standard running gear. The heated, lumbar-adjustable front bucket seats are supremely comfortable and the black leather with white stitching is matched across all the interior trim including the dashboard, door cards and handbrake and gear stick gaiters. A generously sized bespoke cubby box sits between the front seats and also houses the modern-day necessity of cupholders.
Ahead of the driver is a Momo steering wheel and custom gauges while a carbon fibre centre panel houses a large touch screen Pioneer sat nav which also incorporates a DAB radio and Bluetooth phone integration. Other modern conveniences also include electric front windows and a USB charging point. Suede headlining adds to the very luxurious feel while the configuration of the rear seats, which fold away to the sides, still provides a level of practicality. It all adds up to a very special place to be.
Judge for yourself from the photographs but, to our eyes at least, the styling tweaks from the revised grille and tinted panoramic windows, set off by the Sawtooth wheels, make for a very successful updating of the classic Defender look. The revised suspension set up also gives it a purposeful stance.
As with the interior, the whole thing is very well executed and has the appearance of a brand new car – there isn’t a mark on it. The new paintwork has a deep lustre and the carbon fibre bonnet, while arguably questionable as a weight-saving measure, certainly adds style points for the fetishists. The LED lights are all very nicely integrated while the gloss black finish on the ancillary parts gives a suitably upmarket feel.
Opening the (very easy to lift) carbon bonnet betrays some of the car’s roots with the original green on the bulkhead (painting it black was going to be the next step if it had stayed with the current owner) but also displays some of the upgrade work. The alternator is obviously new and shiny and the pipework has been refreshed in several places. The air conditioning unit sits in the corner of the engine bay and much of the wiring and connectors are new.
It fires up first time although, because the battery housed under the passenger seat, some additional jump terminals have been added to be easily accessible in the engine bay in case of emergencies. Given the level of work to the rest of the car, it’s a little surprising at first when the engine starts because it’s… completely standard. While the temptation was there to install something more exotic, those who have done so and then exported the results to the USA have found themselves falling foul of the authorities there, reportedly resulting in some seized and crushed vehicles. It brings a tear to the eye.
On the move, again, it’s business as usual for a classic Defender in terms of how it drives. It’s as good as they ever were with no untoward noises and though it’s admittedly not particularly quick, that’s not really the point. It’s more about enjoying the experience which is all the more easy with the luxury interior and all the mod cons.
Jaguar Land Rover have by all accounts done a great job with their new Defender but as the end of production for the classic version recedes into the rear-view mirror, the level of affection for it seems only to grow. JLR themselves have realised this and are now entering the business of restomods themselves but they are hellishly expensive. This example has not been cheap to build either, with the recent work totalling over £40k. But with increasing passion comes increasing prices and classic Defenders are looking like very solid investments right now.
One reason that restomods are so expensive is the amount of labour and time that it takes to create them. Of course, this generally means having to be very patient. But for those of you who struggle with waiting, here’s one they made earlier and which is ready to be enjoyed. Whether as a runabout or show entrant, it’s sure to attract a lot of positive attention so if you can see yourself sitting in that bespoke interior, looking out over your carbon fibre bonnet, then best get bidding now.
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