The Land Rover Defender has been making its way to the United States from premium builders such as ourselves. Over the years, we often have clients who seek to know which option to get their custom Land Rover Defender built. One of the top brands we get thrown into the comparison list is the U.K. based company, Arkonik Defender. To help those from the U.S. make an educated choice, we decided to lay it all out there and give you a direct and honest comparison between the design, buying, and shipping experience of E.C.D. and Arkonik Defender.
Since both E.C.D. and Arkonik Defender are both custom Land Rover Defender builders, we both share a similar start to beginning your custom Defender.
Once you’re in contact with someone at ECD, we each launch into an extremely extensive concierge and design process. Your vehicle is designed meticulously to the last detail, piece by piece, until you are happy with the look. You will receive electronic renderings, 3D models, physical paint, and leather samples with stitch patterns to help you really understand how your vehicle will be finished.
According to their website, Arkonik Defender offers photos throughout your build’s journey and regular updates on an online portal.
E.C.D., mainly due to our co-founders’ Scott, Elliot, and Tom’s customer service based obsession, has dedicated an entire concierge department to our client’s build journey. Once your deposit lands, our concierge system kicks into gear — issuing you your personal build portal where you receive bi-weekly build updates, hand-written by co-founder and Project Manager, Elliot, photos, videos, and other information until your build comes off the line. Shortly after, our Concierge, Caroline, contacts you to arrange an in-person visit to our Florida facility for your initial design meeting where you can meet the techs and personally see materials for your build. Our other co-founder, Scott, has a need to send client’s the finer things and has designed a custom welcome box that also goes out to each client as a part of our concierge service. We also send you an original hinge from your build’s donor vehicle.
Being in the U.S. vs. the U.K.
The major difference in this portion of the journey is that E.C.D. is based in Florida, meaning travel to touch leather samples, view paint colors, see the shop, or pop in for a test drive is relatively simple. This one, not-so-small factor, is truly where the differences start to stack up. Arranging a visit to E.C.D.’s Rover Dome at any time is easy, we’re right here with you in the U.S., you don’t need a passport to visit us in Orlando, and most of our clients complete the trip in a day — including flights. Your deposit doesn’t have to be wired overseas with little to no recourse; there are no international bank difficulties.
While Arkonik Defender has a rather extensive supply of Defenders being located where the Defender has been generally manufactured and sold since their inception, E.C.D. follows the same process of researching the best donor vehicle to start your custom Defender. E.C.D. being based right here in the U.S. leads to yet another significant difference between how our vehicles are built in comparison to theirs. Arkonik Defender being in the U.K. means that their vehicles must adhere to the 25-year originality law when they import your build to the U.S. Your build from Arkonik Defender must arrive in original stock. If you want to drive your vehicle straight-away, you’ll be stuck with the older Rover engine block, manual transmission, and a classic dashboard.
For custom Defenders that need to be compliant for California’s strict emissions requirements, only E.C.D. can offer G.M. powered builds that are fully compliant with C.A. regulations, ensuring that your custom Defender is able to meet the requirements for registering a vehicle within the state as set forth by the California Air Resource Board. This allows you to take your custom Defender literally anywhere, as intended.
We mentioned the condition and style your vehicle will be in once it lands in the U.S. for delivery. Typically, Arkonik Defender’s Defenders are dressed in your custom spec, but they aren’t always fully finished upon arrival if you are looking for a G.M. powered vehicle. Your build will arrive with an original rebuilt Rover V8 or original diesel engine, with a manual transmission, this can be difficult to use on the roads out here in the U.S. This is fine if you intend to use the vehicle as more of an occasional ride and are not afraid to carry out basic maintenance yourself, but when you compare it to an E.C.D. G.M. powered vehicle, the difference is night and day. You can drive an E.C.D. vehicle every day, in regular traffic, at comfortable highway speeds, never struggling to overtake or merge on the freeway. You could compare an E.C.D. vehicle to driving a new G Wagon, rather than a 30-year-old classic vehicle.
It is worth noting that having seen many Arkonik Defender vehicles at the E.C.D. facility for engine upgrades, their vehicles are very well built, with a quality fit and finish. However, there are many differences that bring an E.C.D. build to a much higher level, part due to our location here in the U.S. and part due to our strive for innovation with perfection and our all in-house mentality at E.C.D. Arkonik Defender build an excellent representation of the Defender as it left the factory 30 years ago, E.C.D. creates a vehicle with the same iconic look and feel, but thoroughly modern in terms of innovation, performance, and reliability, meaning you can drive every day in comfort, without worry.
What E.C.D. offers you in terms of your dream Defender is a list of build options that Arkonik Defender simply cannot offer — a daily driving vehicle that retains the Defender’s nostalgia, ready upon delivery. The differences between an Arkonik Defender import are a night and day comparison to the look and feel of your custom Defender from E.C.D. From the Puma dash to engine upgrade options, E.C.D. has the ability to build your custom Defender without having to source third-party mechanics or shops to further work on your vehicle once it arrives in the U.S. It leaves our facility as your dream build, and it arrives as your dream build.
It is also worth noting that Arkonik Defender has recently opened a new division of their brand, S.V.O., where they offer their special items, listed as the LS3, Dakota digital gauges, Tarox brakes, upgraded suspension, power windows, and a stainless steel exhaust system. These items were similar to what E.C.D. offered four years ago when we first introduced the G.M. drivetrain. We have made considerable advances in our technology and innovation, finding superior alternatives to these over the years, such as the LT4, custom Classic Instruments gauges to your spec, specially developed Brembo brakes, adaptive air suspension and so on. Arkonik Defenders 2020 SVO special edition is more or less comparable to a standard 2017 build from E.C.D.
In-House vs. Third-Party Autoshop
Arkonik Defender does offer additional options such as the LS3 engine and automatic transmission; these are fitted after your build makes it through its first round of shipping to the U.S. Afterwards, it is sent to a partner or third-party mechanic for your additional spec options to be installed. E.C.D. builds with the G.M. drivetrains, LS3’s as standard. We also utilize the latest Land Rover bulkhead, known as the Puma dash. This offers much more refinement when compared to the classic dash your Arkonik Defender vehicle would be equipped with. E.C.D.’s Puma dash also has much better A.C., as it is a modern setup that passes through several high and low-level vents, and includes optional rear A.C. The A.C. system on the classic dash of Arkonik Defender’s builds is one they have to use, and it is bolted under the dashboard. When people make light of this, they often refer to having freezing cold knees and hot everywhere else.
100% of your vehicle is completely rebuilt and upgraded in E.C.D.’s sweeping facilities. You can be sure that techs working on your build are A.S.E. certified and completely dedicated to the inner-workings of the Defender. Having our hands on your build, 100% of the time, ensures we can complete our 400-point quality control inspection.
Should you choose a modern G.M. drivetrain, we ensure your build’s G.M. engine is new with a valid warranty that allows you to receive service at any nationwide G.M. dealership easily. We are also here if your vehicle needs servicing. It was built at our facility, and we will service it either at our facility or via our Warranty Manager, who is on-call 24/7.
No need to try and figure out whether you need to ship your vehicle back or hunt for a Rover specific specialist.
Pre-owned Defenders For Sale
Selling pre-owned vehicles is a benefit for those who want to hop in a Defender without the lead time that comes with a custom build. Arkonik offers pre-owned Arkonik Defenders for sale on their website. We also have available now pre-owned Defenders for sale. The process through E.C.D. is different in that we often accept pre-owned E.C.D. vehicles as trades for those looking to start a new build with E.C.D. In fact, some of the builds we often receive as down-payment or as a trade in have been Arkonik Defenders. We also have an East Coast Overhaul division that sees some of Arkonik builds come through for a complete overhaul — we haven’t seen an equivalent service from Arkonik, though to be fair an overhaul service would seem difficult with them not being based in the U.S.
Getting down to brass tacks, here are some of the overarching things you might be looking into when deciding who to select as the builder of your Dream Defender:
As a final note, with the ever growing movement to shop local and support local in the U.S. we feel that buying from our U.S. business, supporting our 50 strong team and their families right here in the USA is always a great thing to do. The team that build your vehicle are an extremely talented, enthusiastic and proud group, they love seeing your dream Defender come to life by their hands. They are proud to show their families the press when the vehicle they built right here in the USA is featured in Robb Report or Automobile Magazine. ECD also inspires the next generation of properly skilled automotive technicians through our apprentice ASE training program. Youngsters 16-20 are encouraged to join our team, for a paid position and are trained both in house and through ASE, all at ECD’s expense.
When you buy your dream vehicle from ECD, you are not only doing that, you are supporting the huge extended family that built it for you, right here on home soil.
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