Icons collide: Land Rover Defender “Beast” packs Corvette V8 POWERHOUSE

The Land Rover Defender recently made its grand exit after 68 years, leaving the world without the hardest core Land Rover 4×4 for the time being. Happily for Defender fans, there are still aftermarket shops churning out awesome Defender creations, like the Kahn Design 6×6 Pick Up. Across the Atlantic, East Coast Defender (ECD) has a different idea of how to make a better Defender: add a touch of American V8 muscle to create the 430-hp Beast.

Try to wrap your mind around this: an American shop owned and operated by three Brits doing a red, white and blue-tinged version of the British ute vehicle that Land Rover officially pulled from the American market about two decades ago. That’s the quick-and-dirty story behind the Beast.

The longer version involves the 2012 cross-Atlantic journey of Tom Humble, ECD’s founder. When he moved to the US from the UK, Humble grew nostalgic for the British vehicles he had grown to love back home, so he and his wife Emily opened up shop importing and selling some such vehicles.

The Defender was at the top of Humble’s list, given that he had grown up about 40 miles (64 km) from the famous Solihull plant. In 2013, he opened up a workshop and began stripping classic Defenders down and building them up to client specifications. With help from his brother Elliot and Scott Wallace, both co-owners, the business expanded to the point of designing and customizing Defenders completely in-house at an 11,000-sq ft (1,022-sq m) Kissimmee, Florida facility.

The Beast is one of East Coast Defender’s latest customer-commissioned builds and the added ferocity of this Defender 110 pulses forth from the 430-hp (321-kW) LS3 6.2-liter V8 engine under its hood. Prepared with help from Stingray Chevrolet, that engine works in concert with a GM 4L80E automatic transmission. An electronic push-button gear shifter replaces the usual lever, providing quick, seamless control.

Beyond the big engine swap, ECD stripped the Defender right down to the bones and galvanized the entire frame. To help the Defender cope with the added power, the team added Ashcroft drive shafts and axles with limited slip differentials. Tarox disc brakes (8 pot calipers in front, 6 pot in back) give the truck the upgraded stopping power it needs to rein that LS3 in. A new Terrafirma suspension set-up with 2 in (5 cm) of extra clearance cushions the Nitto A/T tire-wrapped 18-in wheels. The build also includes an external roll cage and Magnaflow exhaust.

The Beast can sprint like a predator, dialing it up to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) from stop in about seven seconds before accelerating on to a top speed over 100 mph (161 km/h).

Exterior upgrades include a Kahn wide body kit and black-out wheels, LED lighting, a Smittybilt 10,000-lb (4,536-kg) winch and a 40-in (102-cm) light bar. Inside, ECD has covered the cabin in hand-stitched leather, added sound deadening, dropped in an infotainment system and premium audio, and put a Momo sports steering wheel in the driver’s hands.

We’re not sure how much the buyer paid for this particular build, but ECD urges interested parties to contact it about ordering their own LS3-powered Defender packages. For reference, the ECD USA 110 Edition with modern 3.9-liter Land Rover V8, rebuilt transmission, premium audio and a bunch of other upgrades, some similar to those in the Beast, starts just under US$100,000.

Source: East Coast Defender


Henry Sapiecha

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