- E.C.D. Automotive Design restores Land Rovers and Defenders from a completely stripped-out and bare chassis.
- No build is the same, with every Land Rover Defender or Range Rover Classic taking 12-14 months to complete.
- This 1995 Range Rover Classic is the first all-electric restoration to house a Tesla drive unit and battery pack, which delivers 450hp, 0-60mph of 5.2 seconds, and a range of up to 220 miles.
Billions of dollars are being poured into electric vehicles, and it won’t be long until more EV offerings are hitting dealerships and maybe even finding a way into your own garage (gasp!). Kind of a frightening thought, especially if you’ve lived and breathed exhaust fumes your entire life (much like us!). But let’s face it… Electric fever is in the air, and it’s not going anywhere. It’s the future, you can’t run or hide from it, and there are already traditionally petrol-powered companies embracing electric, take Rywire Motorsport Electronics for example. You might remember Rywire’s Tesla-powered Honda S2000, which debuted at the Turn 14 Distribution x Period Correct Capsule Event last December. The unlikely plug-in roadster flooded social media with no shortage of negative criticism; conversely, it also made many orthodox enthusiasts wonder about what lies ahead. We also can’t forget that Elon Musk and his army of 70,000 employees continue to persuade more drivers every day into becoming EV believers. Even our friends at Evasive Motorsports are gearing up to take on this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with a Tesla Model 3 driven by Dai Yoshihara, another testament to the growing acceptance of electric vehicles. Today, another player is journeying into the EV realm with a restoration project that you’d never suspect, a Range Rover Classic courtesy of E.C.D. Automotive Design.
DEFEND THE OLD SCHOOL
We don’t blame you if you’re not following E.C.D. on Instagram yet, as they’re a bit of a niche company. E.C.D. stands for East Coast Defender, and they specialize in old-school Land Rover Defenders. The founders, Tom Humble, Scott Wallace, and Elliot Humble, are originally from England but now call sunny Florida home. The three have made quite the name for themselves restoring imported D90 (three-door), D110 (five-door), and D130 (pickup) Defenders into one-off, luxury-themed, six-figure trucks. They’ve even been referred to by many as the Singer for Defenders, but they also have applied their expertise to first-gen Range Rover Classics. These boxy 4x4s often carried a stigma of being unreliable, hard-to-maintain, and poorly built, which is where E.C.D. came to the rescue and then some.
RESTORING A CLASSIC
This particular 1995 Range Rover Classic belongs to a California-based customer and was shipped to E.C.D.’s 45,000 square foot headquarters in Kissimmee, Florida. It is there where more than 50 team members made up of various technicians, designers, and project managers went to work perfecting every last millimeter of the vehicle. From start to finish, an E.C.D. build can take up to 12-14 months. In the case of this electric RRC, a total of 2,200 man-hours were logged until it was ready for its first shakedown.
E.C.D. typically drops in a General Motors small-block LS engine that goes in place of the gutless Rover V8. However, in this case, the Tesla Model S drive unit and 100kWh battery pack commonly found in the 100D, P100D, and Raven models power all four wheels. The special hardware comes from a company in the U.K. called Electric Classic Cars, known for some crazy EV conversions themselves (check out this Ferrari 308). To make it fit in the RRC, E.C.D. had to separate the batteries front and rear with the main unit under the hood, while the second pack lies in the trunk under a carpeted enclosure. Upgraded axles help handle the extra torque, with an estimated rating of 450hp.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
As I hopped into the tan leather captain’s chair and buckled myself in, the first thing I noticed was the absence of a gear shifter and e-brake handle. In its place was a leather- and wood-trimmed center console with four buttons, one of them being ‘FWD’. This button didn’t mean ‘front-wheel-drive’, but ‘forward’. I slowly began rolling out of the parking lot, but it wasn’t until I hit the main road and began squeezing the accelerator when I could finally hear the audible whine of the Tesla motor and grasp the newly electrified Range Rover’s impressive torque. I remember thinking to myself right away, “this thing is loud!” It didn’t sound like any other electric car I’ve ever driven or heard. The unmistakable electric whine made it seem more like a spaceship than a Model S. Even at certain coasting speeds and during deceleration, the electric drone was a constant reminder this Range Rover was far from ordinary as if Doc Brown sent it back from the future himself. A handful of low-speed launches to 70mph put an uncontainable smile on my face. E.C.D. revealed the Range Rover’s unofficial 0-60mph time is 5.2-seconds and they’re confident they can shave a couple more tenths to make it five seconds flat with a little more fine-tuning. Yes, that’s the same 0-60mph as the Honda Civic Type R… If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. This is the potential of EV, and there’s no denying it.
One of my most fascinating takeaways with the electric Range Rover is that it still looks and feels every bit from the ‘90s, minus the driveline. You gotta slam the door to shut it, and the seating position and steering still feels like you’re in charge of a big boat. Sure, there are contemporary amenities like Apple CarPlay, a back-up camera, and LED headlights, but there’s no way in hell you’d want to take a sharp corner at speed. Perhaps that’s what makes the E.C.D. Range Rover Classic so special, though. It possesses an old soul despite a high-tech powertrain. It’s got character, it’s period correct, and it effin’ fun to drive. Would I ever own something like this? Maybe when the price of these EV creations comes down or if I ever make millions on Bitcoin. Until then, though, I’ll continue to admire what pioneers like Bisimoto, Rywire, and East Coast Defender are doing.
1995 Range Rover Classic
|E.C.D. Automotive Design
|Tesla direct-drive EV powertrain and 100kWh battery pack from Electric Classic Cars
|Upgraded axles with limited-slip differentials; high-performance regenerative braking
|Wheels & Tires:
|18-inch Land Rover Boost 5-spoke wheels; Continental Cross Contact tires
|Alpine white paint; LED automatic headlights
|Spinneybeck Pueblito tan leather upholstery; rewrapped steering wheel; custom E.C.D. instrument cluster; JL Audio Alpine Halo9 multimedia receiver with 9” touchscreen, back-up camera, Bluetooth, USB port; Infinity Kappa speakers