We would

As the new 2020 Land Rover Defender is rapidly heading towards its debut, we can’t help but look back at the Defenders of old. With the new one already promising a lot of high-tech gear and all the whatnot that will make life easier for modern drivers once they run out of asphalt, we cannot think at what would happen with all those rusty Defenders retired in barns or simply left to bear the mark of time in God knows what junkyard. Land Rover’s thinking about that too, in case you missed the news. The company is now offering a set of packages and upgrades through its Classic arm. They’re inspired by the Defender Works V8 70th Edition and give owners a chance to breathe new (also fancy) life into their beloved Defenders. But that’s not the reason we brought you here. In fact, we think there’s a better alternative to look after your Defender: getting it to a restomodding specialist and let the experts work their magic.

Who is Arkonik in the first place?

At $170,000, Would You Buy Arkonik's So-Cal 1989 Defender 90?
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“Defender for me is a metaphor of life…it creates a gateway to adventure.”

That is what Arkonik founder Andy Hayes has to say when asked why he founded the company in the first place. He drove an old Defender 110 V-8 from the UK to Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, and back to England. However, Arkonik as a name in the business of Defender restomodding has only been around since 2016. To date, the company has a handful of completed Defender projects in its portfolio and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping here. Before we get to the topic at hand, here’s what Arkonik’s workshop looks like with all hands on deck:

The Arkonik Difference

Each Arkonik Defender is restored with dedication, precision and a sensitivity to the heritage of the Land Rover marque. Here is a unique insight into the passion and labour involved to create the best Land Rover Defenders in the world. Film by Matthew Edge Film Configure your own Defender today | http://www.arkonik.com/customselect.aspx Restored by us, Reimagined by you.

Posted by Arkonik on Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Arkonik So-Cal Defender 90

Could this be the perfect ride for a summer day? We definitely thinks so. Arkonik’s So-Cal D90 uses a 1989 Defender 90 as a donor car and packs a 3.5-liter V-8 twinned to a five-speed manual gearbox. But it’s not necessarily the grunt (for now undisclosed) that catches the eye. Arkonik took its time to add a bucketload of new bits and bobs that would make the So-Cal Defender rise up to its price tag. Which is $170,000, in case you were wondering. Now, whether that’s worth it or not, we’ll leave for you to judge. We’ll just try to cover everything this open-top Defender has to offer and you tell us if the price is right.

At $170,000, Would You Buy Arkonik's So-Cal 1989 Defender 90?
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So engine aside, you’re looking at a Defender 90 painted in Java Black.

The interior received the Camden Woven treatment and an Evander wood-trimmed steering wheel that just begs for your hands’ attention.

You’ll also want to buy a surfboard after looking at it for too long. One of the changes - the most visible one, that is - was Arkonik’s decision to chop down the Defender’s roof and replace it with a removable soft top. Take the top down and you’ll reveal Puma-style seats up front (they’re also heated, mind you) and Camden Supersoft-upholstered seats made by Ruskin Design in the back. The touch of modern feel is provided by the Defender Defender GPS-based security system and a Pioneer touchscreen-based multimedia setup that’s compatible with the like of Apple CarPlay and offers a rear camera as well.

At $170,000, Would You Buy Arkonik's So-Cal 1989 Defender 90?
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Moving on the exterior, the hood you see there is an OEM original piece that goes hand in hand with the Heritage front grille. The front bumper gets daytime running lights and WIPAC xenon headlights, while the whole thing rests on 16-inch steel wheels finished in Chawton White and shod in BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO2 rubber.

Now let’s talk about the components that are hidden to the eye. Besides fully reconditioning and rebuilding the engine, gearbox, and frame, Arkonik threw in completely new electrics, brakes (including brake lines, front discs and rear drums), and a whole new Cellular Dynamic suspension. Out in the back, there’s a swing-away spare wheel carrier mated to an Arkonik wheel cover.

At $170,000, Would You Buy Arkonik's So-Cal 1989 Defender 90?
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As we said earlier, Arkonik will charge you $170,000 for the So-Cal D90 and we are not going to lie, that’s a hefty price to ask.

Just to put things into perspective, a squeaky new Mercedes-AMG G 63 will require an investment of at least $147,500. Its handcrafted AMG-sourced 4-liter bi-turbo V-8 churns out 577 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 627 pound-feet of torque unlocked between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm, allowing for a 0-60 mph sprint time of just 4.5 seconds.

Moreover, while Jeep won’t fit the Wrangler with a V-8, the most expensive 2019 Wrangler it sells is the Wrangler Unlimited MOAB 4x4 (animated by a 3.6-liter V-6 powerplant) which retails for $51,300. Let’s say you manage to somehow double that price via Mopar’s customization programs and you’ll still save a hefty $70,000 in comparison to Arkonik’s So-Cal D90 Defender.

Final Thoughts

At $170,000, Would You Buy Arkonik's So-Cal 1989 Defender 90?
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If you’re a gearhead like us, then you probably know that cars like the Defender (those of old, that is) will always spark a great deal of sympathy and love. It goes the same for wealthy individuals. So, think about this: if $170,000 meant peanuts to you but your appreciation for a Defender was infinite, wouldn’t you pay for one of Arkonik’s builds without blinking? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

At $170,000, Would You Buy Arkonik's So-Cal 1989 Defender 90?
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ARKONIK SO-CAL DEFENDER 90 - SPECS
Base car 1989 Defender 90
Engine 3.5-liter V-8
Fuel Gasoline
Transmission 5-speed manual
Seating 6 seats
Length 3,883 mm
Width 1,790 mm
Height 1,933/2,077 mm
Wheelbase 2,360 mm
Towing capacity 3,500 kg / 7,716 lb
Price $170,000 (est)

Further Reading

Land Rover Is Working on a Defender SVR and Here's the Proof
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Land Rover Defender SVR.

2007 Land Rover Defender
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Read our full review on the Land Rover Defender.

Your Old Land Rover Defender Will Thank You for These Upgrades
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Your Old Land Rover Defender Will Thank You for These Upgrades

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