There are no limits to what the human mind can create

If there’s anything the iconic Land Rover Defender proved in its 67-year run that concluded in 2016, it’s that it could be used in a variety of ways. Whether it was used as a military car, an off-roader, or even as an expedition car, there was no purpose the OG Defender couldn’t fulfill. Apparently, as one British man proved, it can also be turned into a fully functioning coal-powered steam car.

Meet Frank Rothwell. He’s a 67-year old retired British businessman man who happens the own one of the most unusual custom Land Rover Defender 88 models in the world. On the surface, we can still make out traces of its old identity. The body still has the Defender 88’s styling cues. but the recessed grille has been replaced by boiler front with a working chimney for the coal smoke. There’s even a Land Rover badge thrown in there for good measure, presumably to keep up with the appearances.

Rothwell said that he spent around £24,000 (about $34,000) on the project after buying the Land Rover for £4,000 (a little more than $5,600). From there, Rothwell spent more than 400 hours working on the conversion, most of which were used in fitting a coal-fired boiler that heats water into steam that is used to power the steam engine. The result speaks for itself.

The Defender 88, or whatever remains of it, now looks like something Jeremy Clarkson would build after one of his old late night benders.

Functionally, Rothwell claims that his Defender can top out at speeds of 15 mph with a full head of steam. It’s not much, but it’s enough for him to make his usual trips in and around town. More importantly, the car represents something of a love project for his grandchildren. "I think it’s really good for children of this era to do things like lighting fires and using coal," he says, "because they have little access to using things like that these days."


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