Starting the journey to a custom Defender can be a process that simply begins with deciding who your builder will be. While the decision can seem daunting, or you might not know where to start, if you’ve found ECD as your defender builder, you’re heading in the best direction (in our humble opinion). Here’s the timeline for building your own customized classic Defender with our fully in-house restoration team:
As with anything custom, our process starts with design. If you’ve chosen the model Defender you’d like or have one in mind; your next steps are sharing with us the detailed design aspects of your vehicle. When you sign your contract with ECD, you then receive a welcome box containing paint samples, materials, and options to look over for your custom build. You can then choose to fly to our Design Studio to have your design meeting with Sales and Design Director John in person, or we can book this meeting virtually. The benefit of coming to the studio is being able to see our custom Defenders live, feel materials, see them firsthand, and, best of all, take a test drive!
Your design options are virtually limitless. Our state-of-the-art in-house paint facility can match any paint color you choose, even if it’s from a different brand or a swatch. We work with premium vendors to provide the best interior upholstery materials, and everything is designed and sewn in-house, from animal skins to non-traditional colors; your design is entirely up to you, down to the color of the stitch.
When all of your colors, accessories, and materials are chosen, we then use our extremely detailed 3D design software to create your 3D rendered design of your custom Defender on site. This allows you to visualize your custom build and make any changes on the spot. The design process can take a few months to complete, but once the final design is approved, the journey toward building your custom Defender begins.
The first step we take in bringing your restored Defender to life is sourcing a base vehicle to start the build process. This is an original Defender, typically from the late 1980s through the 1990s, with a story and history behind it. We search the world for these vehicles, but our Logistics office in the U.K. is our go-to resource for bringing in base vehicles that can be legally imported to the United States. Once we ensure the vehicle can pass import and customs inspections, it is packed and shipped over to our 100,000 sq ft facility here in Florida. While sourcing may not take long, the shipping and receiving depend on the conditions of shipping a vehicle overseas into the U.S., which means it can take some time.
Once the vehicle has been delivered on-site to our facility, it goes through the process of being torn down to the chassis. We remove every bolt, wire, and door of the vehicle until we have a bare chassis that is ready to be repaired and rebuilt. Any aspects of the vehicle that can be salvaged, like body panels, the roof, and doors, are set aside and labeled for repair. The tear-down process happens FAST; like most demos, it can take our Tear-down techs as little as a few days to bring the vehicle down to the chassis.
Rebuilding the custom Defender is what takes the most time since we rebuild from the ground up. Everything from wiring to the dashboard and more is fixed or replaced with new as needed, and you can expect the rebuild time to take up the majority of the build’s man-hours.
The chassis is sent to our first bay, where the rust is repaired, and it is welded and resealed for security and longevity. Once it has been refinished, it is turned into what we call a ‘rolling chassis. Sitting on four wheels, the rolling chassis moves from bay to bay, slowly becoming the dream vehicle you’ve designed.
It starts with getting standard wiring and an engine fitting, followed by a bit more wiring. The engine is removed, and other aspects of the build begin being installed as it makes its way down the line. All the while, things like the body panels and seats are undergoing their own transformations in our other buildings. The body panels and doors are sanded and repaired before being painted in our state-of-the-art paint booth. The new seats are sent to our upholstery team, which works to bring every detail from your custom design to your build’s interior.
These major parts are installed as the build moves along, starting with the main body panels, a bit more wiring, the bulkhead, and the roof. Once the panels are on, the vehicle is fitted with dynamat and insulation for sound and reverb. The engine slides back in, and your seats, dashboard, center consoles, and other interior components are fitted and installed.
Once your build is fully put back together, it has a “first fire,” where we start it up for the first time to ensure everything is working smoothly. During its last few months at our facility, it will go through a rigorous testing and quality inspection stage. The inspection bays feature a 200-point inspection process and test for things like drive quality, proper wiring, and ensuring every bolt is properly in its place.
The last thing your build experiences before shipping is test miles. Our founders usually drive the vehicle for a certain number of miles to ensure it is of the highest quality performance for its new home. The best part of this journey is that your custom portal is updated biweekly with photos of your build as it moves through every part of the building process, giving you full access to where your build is at all times. Ultimately, the timeline takes anywhere from 13-15 months after contract signing.
This year, ECD launched a new product line of Special Edition Land Rovers. Each Special Edition has its own unique attributes and features and is only available in 3 slots at a time. The Special Editions have certain features as standard, such as a 565 HP LS3 V8 engine, Air Suspension, full roll cage with front light bar and rear working light, 20” Alloy black wheels, and Special Edition badging. You can still choose design options from pre-selected colors and materials to make the build your own.
The best benefit of choosing a Special Edition is that you will receive an expedited build time of 12 months since we already have the materials for the build selected and readily available. This option is perfect for those who have a simplified original Defender design in mind and want their build off the line faster.
If you’re ready to start your journey and are interested in a Land Rover Defender classic for sale, you can email us at [email protected].
Feel free to contact ECD Automotive Design today, and you’ll embark on a journey filled with boundless possibilities for tailoring your automotive dreams. Our team of experts is eager to collaborate with you, ensuring that your vehicle reflects your unique style and preferences. With ECD, your automotive vision becomes a reality.
Unit 107 – 4930 Industrial Lane Kissimmee, FL 34758
UK logistics Center
Unit 5 Crown Industrial Estate
© 2022 ECD Automotive Design. All images are the property of ECD Auto Design and cannot be used without our consent. E.C.D. Automotive Design is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with Jaguar Land Rover Limited, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, including Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC. DEFENDER and RANGE ROVER are registered trademarks of Jaguar Land Rover Limited. We build restored defenders, range rover classic’s, and jaguar etypes.