East Coast Defenders Will Build Your Dream Land Rover

Thousands of color and accessory combinations are available.

Deremer Studios Automotve Photography
Deremer Studios LLC—Photography by Deremer Studios L

The Land Rover Defender is a rough and tough off-road vehicle, the British equivalent to our Jeep Wrangler. Both vehicles have evolved over the years into vehicles you can drive daily without torturing yourself, but neither is known for its particularly luxurious accommodations. There are many options for SUVs dedicated to luxury rather than off-road capability. But East Coast Defender asks the same question as the girl in the Old El Paso commercial: "Why don't we have both?"

"It’s a journey like no other for our clients," states Tom Humble, East Coast Defender co-owner. "We’re the only custom automotive design company in the world where customers have the opportunity to create their dream car completely from scratch."

This isn't about just buying a Defender. Anyone can do that. East Coast Defender involves the customer in every step of what it calls the Luxury Build Experience to make each Defender it restores and builds truly unique, and specifically tailored to the customer's individual tastes.

First, a design kit is shipped to the new owner that includes a variety of paint, leather and wheel samples. Then the customer is flown to one of East Coast Defender's two design studios to sit down with the Head of Automotive Design and discuss the build. 

East Coast Defender

Thousands of color and accessory combinations are available. Original Rover engines are available as well, but Chevy LS engine swaps are also offered. Everything from the paint color to the specific type of gauges you prefer is up for discussion and customization.

After the meeting, the customer receives bi-monthly updates as to the progress of the vehicle, including paint and leather samples as well as a scale model of the build. A donor vehicle is found and acquired, which is completely torn down and rebuilt from the ground up to the customer's specifications.

These custom Defenders are not quite as affordable as the average used Jeep Wrangler off of Craigslist. Fully built vehicles in stock as of this writing range from fairly basic D110 with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder 300 TDI diesel engine for $79,000, all the way to a fully custom D110 with a 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 for a whopping $249,995. That's more than the Bentley Bentayga, and as much as another military workhorse turned luxury barge, the Mercedes-AMG G65.

But the Bentley and Mercedes don't offer anywhere near the level of customization that East Coast Defenders does. That's the appeal. Personally, I'd have mine built to look like an ordinary Land Rover assigned to Doctor Who's UNIT organization on the outside, but surprisingly plush and well-equipped on the inside.