Luxurious Magazine’s Online Editor, Simon Wittenberg, takes a look at how E.C.D. Automotive Design, the USA’s leading specialist for restored custom Defenders and classic Land Rovers, produces bespoke one-off luxury vehicles tailored to their customer’s desires.
For many, luxury is about having something that nobody else has i.e. it is “one of one”, and where even the words “limited edition” don’t suffice. Cars are not excluded from this philosophy, and one business that’s building and customising vehicles to their clients’ unique desires is the US-based Land Rover Defender specialist, E.C.D. Automotive Design (or E.C.D.).
Founded in 2013 by three British car enthusiasts, and located on the East Coast of America in Kissimmee, Florida, E.C.D’s state-of-the-art 45,000 square-metre headquarters, named the “Rover Dome”, is home to 47 talented craftsman and technicians, who hold a combined total of 53 Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) qualifications and four master level certifications.
This highly-skilled group of individuals produces around 60 bespoke Defenders a year, and every aspect of the car can be tailored to the wildest wants of buyers. In fact, E.C.D’s ultimate goal is to build custom vehicles that define the market and set the global benchmark in their field, an objective that is certainly being achieved.
In the world of personalisation, it’s up to the customer, who can be located in any country, to dream and to picture how their ultimate Defender would look, and it’s then the job of E.C.D. Automotive Design to make “the impossible possible”, and to effectively drive their vision forward to make it a reality.
This is clearly summed up by the business in their slogan “You create it, we build it”, a tagline which has sat at the heart of E.C.D. since it was founded seven years ago.
One of the significant benefits of using E.C.D Automotive Design for a custom-built Defender is the fact that they do not outsource any part of the vehicle, and everything is designed and fitted entirely in-house, from the embroidering of the seats, to the cosmetics.
An E.C.D. Defender can be defined as luxury at its very finest, and a starting price of US$169,995 certainly mirrors this. Considering that each model takes around 2,200 hours to complete from start to finish, this represents excellent value for money. In fact, the journey for the client is just as personal as the car itself, and they are involved at every step of the process, from concept through to production.
It starts with the delivery of a hardback and digital copy of the “welcome” book, which features full image prints of E.C.D’s model range. Customers will also be treated to a glimpse of the newly-developed design kits (including paint, leather, and stitch samples), which have been tailored to the actual model selected by the customer.
The customer’s “voyage” then continues with an all-expenses-paid visit to either the company’s headquarters in Florida or to its design studio in Malibu (California), on the West Coast. The first important decision to be made by the client is the “base model” and the variant of the Defender that they desire.
The six-strong E.C.D. Automotive Design line-up spans the iconic and sturdy Restored Custom 90 workhorse to the recently unveiled electric Defender, and there’s also different configurations (i.e. a two or four-door) and trim levels available.
Each of the classic Land Rover Defenders that are imported into the US and worked on, are meticulously sourced by E.C.D. from across Europe, and are a minimum of 25 years old, so making sure that there are matching numbers and that there’s an eligible date of manufacture is absolutely vital.
Once the model has been selected, attention turns to the powerhouse that’s going to drive the might of the Defender, which is an equally important consideration so as to ensure that the car will be fully compliant with strict local emissions regulations. For example, E.C.D. offers CA-compliant engine options to ensure a smooth registration process in the state of California.
There’s a menu of drivetrains and transmissions to suit different levels of desire for horsepower and the intended use for the Defender. If it’s performance the client’s after, this is answered by the top-end 6.2-litre 430 hp Chevrolet V8 LS3 (the same as that found in the fifth-generation Camaro SS and C6 Corvette), or there’s the very slightly less potent 5.3-litre, 320 hp Vortec LC9 V8 unit (used previously by General Motors for their Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon models). The lower end of the scale is satisfied by an original 4.0-litre Rover V8 delivering 190 hp, and a 160 hp Cummins turbo diesel motor.
With the engine ticked off the list, it’s then all about the look of Defender, to make sure that the aesthetics communicate the wishes of the buyer.
There’s really no limits here – the paintwork can be in the customer’s very own colour, they can pick a roll-cage style to suit the model, a wide body kit can be added to help the Defender stand out even more and, if they want an added element of practicality, a winch can be added to the front end. When it comes to the interior, there are endless possibilities here too, namely, a selection of premium Italian leather hides sporting hundreds of different colours.
Regardless of the combination that the customer wants, eye-catching or tame, the designers will produce an accurate rendering before it gets made for real.
Throughout the assembly process, which is typically completed over a six to 12-month period, buyers are able to watch their custom vehicle come to life in front of their very eyes through a live camera that streams to the E.C.D. Automotive Design YouTube channel. At the end of the build, there is a significant final step where the client has the privileged opportunity to come back to the Rover Dome in Kissimmee to complete their pride and joy.
This takes the form of attaching a Defender plaque to the car to symbolise their approval and sign-off of the project, prior to getting behind the wheel for the first time, or arranging for it to be carefully delivered to its forever home.
For those seeking individuality, unrivalled attention to detail and a luxurious journey that nobody else will ever experience in the same way, a Land Rover Defender from E.C.D. Automotive Design is the perfect answer, and you may have just found “the one” right here.
E.C.D. Automotive Design – Where and How?
E.C.D. Automotive Design is committed to redefining the luxury build experience with five-star customer service. For more information, visit www.ECDautodesign.com or call 001 (407) 483 4825.