Range Rover Classic Meets Corvette LS3 V8 Power
While not the obvious choice, Chevrolet LS3 V8 actually makes sense as a modern power plant for a retromod Range Rover Classic.
East Coast Defender is a custom Land Rover specialist based more specifically in Florida. As their name suggests, they mainly deal with Defenders but they are consummate professionals when it comes to giving anything born in Solihull a more powerful and luxurious ride. For those not familiar with the first generation Range Rover, that’s a tougher task than you might imagine. Although Range Rovers are now known for their on-road luxury ride and performance, the Range Rover Classic wasn’t. It was essentially designed as a more comfortable Land Rover for a farmer to be able to drive across his land with a bale of straw or two in the back. For the first 11 years of production it only had two doors on the side. A corporate taxi it most definitely wasn’t.
Although it was incredibly capable and smooth off of the tarmac, on the road a first generation Range Rover was comparable to driving a boat. However, it became a symbol of wealth as it became a favorite of high society land-owners for being a softer way of reaching and enjoying their countryside pursuits. That kind of class of people often have homes in the city as well, and Range Rovers became a common sight in the more monied boroughs of London such as Chelsea and Kensington. It didn’t take long for the Range Rover to become known as the Chelsea Tractor. By the late 1980’s the Range Rover was playing to that audience and building a blueprint for the true luxury SUV.
East Coat Defender has taken the Range Rover Classic and given it the level of luxury and performance the platform is now known for, but in its vintage form. This build is showcased on their site and known as Project Alpha. We adore how their build here is completely recognizable for its utilitarian roots on the inside, but the level of upholstery and infotainment has been cranked to a high, modern, and bespoke level. Even the seats have been re-engineered before being re-upholstered.
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For the exterior, we also love how they’ve amped up the classic look so it simply oozes class. Under the slick style, the rebuild goes all the way down to a nuts and bolts restoration. Based on our experience with old Range Rovers, we would love to see how this drives on the road with the upgraded axles, steering, and suspension. After all, that’s what makes sense about dropping in a modern 6.2 liter Chevrolet LS3 V8 into Project Alpha. With a more stable platform under it, more muscle, and reliable muscle at that, under the hood makes sense.
While the original Rover V8 was a fantastic and long-lived engine, it was born in 1967 and retired at the end of its natural life. However, the Chevrolet LS3 V8 keeps with the character of the Rover V8. The original Rover V8 had American DNA from being based on a General Motors and, like the LS3, and also used the lightweight aluminum block and head design.
What East Coast Defender is doing has captured our hearts. Jaguar Forums editor and resident heart-throb Jake Stumph had great things to say after experiencing one of their Defenders and we’ve spent more time than we should in their online configurator.
[Editor’s Note: I definitely did not coerce Ian to say that.]
Hopefully, there will be one for the Range Rover Classic soon as well as their take on the Defender. We may not be able to afford one, but we can dream and appreciate their treatment Land Rovers modern classics.