There’s a reason why car enthusiast blogs and magazines write about restored vehicles like the ones ECD, Arkonik, and Twisted rebuild — it’s because restoring a vintage Defender is f*cking hard! You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to buy a 25+-year-old vehicle and transform it into a jaw-dropping daily driver that amasses a cult following. No. It takes years and years of experience that begins with understanding the complexities of a classic like the Land Rover Defender, and that’s if you can even find one.
In places, well, unlike pretty much everywhere else in the world, the Defender in North America is a vehicle that’s hard to come by. You might come across one of the rare built-for-America NAS Defenders somewhere, but a 25+-year-old version in original condition that at least runs are an even harder find. Over the course of restoring a Defender, you’ll find sourcing for the project, in general, is surprisingly one of the most difficult parts. At times, learning to repair a bulkhead and installing a new engine is like baking a cake with instructions compared to trying to find parts. First, you must source the vehicle, a big enough hump as it is, and then you take on sourcing all of the updated and upgraded parts to repair it; heck, you might even settle for used parts in decent condition (maybe any condition if desperate enough).
Once you’ve figured out your sourcing, understanding a beauty like the Defender is another set of complexities. Some brands, ECD in particular, have learned that it’s best practice to develop a set of blueprints for the Defender over the years. After developing blueprints, they can then take it a step further by creating a guideline for (properly) installing newer parts like a newer wiring harness or a Tesla engine into the original Defender setup. It’s not like you can remove part of the bulkhead to make room for other things. Everything needs a plan and place, and this may be a more frustrating part in restoring a Defender, although when it comes to sorting wiring harnesses, others might find it therapeutic to take time organizing everything carefully. Kind of like building an extremely meticulously detailed model of Air Force One — but life-sized. Installing new engines, AC, and custom features can only be done by someone with years of experience in the craft; no amount of YouTube videos will help you there. The Defender is a majestic beast, and one slip-up means a whole lot of trouble for the go-anywhere vehicle.
If you plan to choose a completely different style or color for the Defender you have, your project can go either way. If you like the current paint choice and just want a new set of wheels, the switch is relatively easy, and there are plenty of companies that sell aftermarket wheels for the Defender. If you want a whole new color, it’d probably be best to take your vehicle to a professional paint shop (unless you have one on-site like ECD). There, your vehicle’s color can be stripped down, smoothed out, and repainted like it just came from the factory. If you aren’t sure, try ECD’s online Defender builder to test out some colors or look through almost 200 builds of different colors and styles on the company showcase page.
Restoring a classic Defender is difficult, but with experience and about 2,200 man-hours, the rebuild is often enjoyable — especially as the build comes together and is in its final stages of completion. But in the end, nothing beats taking that first drive out on the highway, hitting 60+ mph in a vehicle that was never meant to go that fast, or even still be on the road in America today.
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.
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© 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.