The right stuff to claw through anything – comfortably

The name “Defender” carries some serious weight in the world of off-roading. With a long history of military service and simply unflappable talent off-road, this iconic model from Land Rover serves as the bones for myriad capability-focused vehicles. Florida-based auto shop East Coast Defenders knows this well, making its name building custom versions of the British model for enhanced style, greater interior comfort, and even greater agility while traversing the great outdoors. Now, ECD is invading the sands of Vegas with its latest custom build, dropping the sheets at the 2017 SEMA show. The project was a collaboration with Warn Industries, a manufacturer that specializes in vehicle recovery equipment, and is based on a Defender 110 model from 1985. Created by hand and equipped with a litany of custom parts, ECD appropriately calls this build “Project Beast.”

Framed as an “elite off-road SUV,” Project Beast was actually completed in 2016, built in ECD’s “Rover Dome” in Kissimmee, Florida. All told, it’s got the right stuff for attracting attention at SEMA. Read on for more.

Continue reading to learn more about the East Coast Defender.

Exterior

  • Classic Defender shape, enhanced
  • Kahn wide body kit
  • External roll cage
  • LED light bar on the roof
  • Custom wheels
2017 East Coast Defender “Project Beast” Exterior
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ECD outfitted Project Beast to play the part of a hardcore rough-stuff killer

From the off, it’s pretty obvious this is no ordinary Land Rover Defender. ECD outfitted Project Beast to play the part of a hardcore rough-stuff killer, giving it the look of an unstoppable black cube that merges British engineering with American know-how.

The classic four-door exterior styling remains, including the extended rear cargo area and a multitude of broad, flat body panels. However, to this classic shape, ECD added a variety of enhancements.

2017 East Coast Defender “Project Beast” Exterior
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LED light bar on the roof
The most eye-grabbing feature is the Kahn wide body kit, which adds some serious girth to the exterior dimensions

The most eye-grabbing feature is the Kahn wide body kit, which adds some serious girth to the exterior dimensions. Then there’s the external roll cage, which sweeps up from the A-pillar and into the roof, then down again into the rear fenders, adding impressive protection in the event you accidentally tip this thing over. Illuminating the view forward is a large LED light bar, which finds its home just above the windshield.

The front fascia appears to be freshened with a new grille insert, while the new fender flares add extra chunkiness. Filling to extra space are custom wheels, matched in back by a spare of the same design. Finally, the whole thing was slathered in flat-black paint, lending it even more attitude.

Interior

  • Keeps the standard Defender layout
  • Lots of high-end upholstery
  • New seats
2017 East Coast Defender “Project Beast” Interior
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Keeps the standard Defender layout
Inside, you’ll find modern Defender mixed with luxury, with ample coverings of sumptuous hide and stitching.

Step into the cabin of this thing, and you’ll find a very nice place to be. While the floor gets tough rubber to help rebuff whatever muddy mess you bring with you, the rest of it is modern Defender mixed with luxury, with ample coverings of sumptuous hide and stitching. Indeed, everywhere you look, there is some kind of quilted leather, from the seats, to the door panels, to the center console, to even the dash.

Behind a three-spoke steering wheel from Momo, ECD included the standard three-pod gauge layout, albeit modified to include additional readouts and data, not to mention the requisite ECD plaque below.

2017 East Coast Defender “Project Beast” Interior
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New seats
The seats themselves are elaborate buckets that should do well to hold passengers in place

The seats themselves are elaborate buckets that should do well to hold passengers in place, while seating for three additional passengers can be found on the second-row bench. Meanwhile, copious space in the cargo area means you’ll be hauling whatever you need to bring with you, whether its gear, supplies, or even more passengers on the fold-out seats.

Drivetrain

  • Chevy LS3 V-8 powerplant
  • Automatic transmission
  • 4X4 traction
2017 East Coast Defender “Project Beast” Exterior
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Output is rated at a healthy 430 horsepower, which is pretty much standard for the powerplant

As you might imagine, East Coast Defender wasn’t content to keep their build stock as a rock under the hood, so instead, this burly trail buster comes equipped with a brand-new Chevy LS3 small-block V-8, the same engine you’ll find driving the rear wheels in the Camaro SS and the Corvette. Output is rated at a healthy 430 horsepower, which is pretty much standard for the powerplant. However, ECD does say it incorporated a good deal of custom work to make the engine function properly in the Defender platform.

The rest of it includes an automatic transmission routing power to the ground by way of a robust 4X4 drivetrain. And just in case you still can’t find the traction from those big tires, there’s a winch from Warn on the nose to help pull you free.

Conclusion

2017 East Coast Defender “Project Beast” Exterior
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“What we’ve created with our custom Defender and Range Rover Classics, fits into a highly niche market. We strip each vehicle down to its frame and complete it according to our client’s exact specifications,” says ECD co-owner Elliot Humble.

That’s exactly the right approach for a SEMA build. The further away from factory you can get, the better. Of course, ECD took care to keep the Land Rover’s inherent off-road worthiness intact, adding to it with the right components, rather than detracting from it with superfluous accouterments.

Kudos.

  • Leave it
    • * Custom build = expensive
    • * More extreme off-roader builds out there

References

Land Rover Defender

2013 Land Rover Defender High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Land Rover Defender.

2017 SEMA Show – Preview
- image 741107

Read more news on the 2017 SEMA Show.

Press release

East Coast Defender (E.C.D.) has teamed up with Warn Industries to debut their hand-crafted, custom Land Rover Defenders at this year’s SEMA Show, which will be held Oct. 31 - Nov. 3, 2017, in the Las Vegas Convention Center. E.C.D. will display “Project Beast” in the Warn Industries booth (#31059) located in the Upper South Hall. The hand-crafted, custom re-built Land Rover Defender 110 features a 430 horsepower Chevrolet LS3 engine with custom features and appointments throughout.
“We’re looking forward to teaming up with Warn Industries for our first appearance at the SEMA Show,” said Scott Wallace, East Coast Defender Co-Owner. “We’ve attracted quite a bit of attention since we first started building our custom Defenders, and now Range Rover Classics. The SEMA Show has an incredible reputation for hosting the world’s best in automotive design and engineering. We’re looking forward to the Show and expect it to be a great platform to showcase our team’s ability to build and design world-class design Defenders, like Project Beast."

Project Beast is an elite off-road SUV, hand-built by East Coast Defender at the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility, the Rover Dome in Kissimmee, Fla. It features a Kahn wide-body kit that has been seamlessly integrated into the Defender to reach a new level of aesthetic brilliance. Under the hood is a powerful and agile LS3 engine that delivers incredible performance. The hand-built SUV, which was completed in 2016, started life as a 1985 Land Rover Defender and features custom appointments throughout, including a Warn winch.

“We’ve worked with the East Coast Defender team on several projects and have come to respect their workmanship on their custom Defenders,” said Jim Randall, Senior Manager and Marketing Strategist at Warn Industries. “We’re looking forward to having ‘Project Beast’ as a part of our SEMA exhibit this year. It will be a great complement to our other display vehicles, which includes a modified 2018 Toyota Tundra that’s outfitted with Overlanding gear.”

“What we’ve created with our custom Defender and Range Rover Classics, fits into a highly niche market,” said Elliot Humble, East Coast Defender Co-owner. “We strip each vehicle down to its frame and complete it according to our client’s exact specifications. It’s truly a premium design and build process unlike anything we see in the market. Since opening our doors we’ve been able to refine our build processes and team up with incredible supply partners, like Warn, who share our standards of excellence in each product they build. We’re looking forward to sharing our first SEMA experience with them.”

To see “Project Beast” and talk with an East Coast Defender representative about their custom, hand-crafted Defenders and Range Rover Classics, visit the Warn Industries booth (#31059) located in the Upper South Hall.

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