How can you go wrong with a Corvette-powered Defender?

Land Rover redefined the way off-roaders are perceived. The automaker brought class and finesse to many off-roaders and launched many monikers that are fondly remembered even today. The Defender is one of them. The badge came to life in the 1980s, before which it was known as the Land Rover Ninety and One Ten. The automaker pulled the plug on it in 2016, but brought it back again last year. In 2018, Land Rover rolled out a special edition of the Defender called the Defender Works V-8.

A lot of aftermarket companies have customized it over the years, but one company called ECD Automotive Design has taken a special liking towards it. The company specializes in customizing Land Rover SUVs in unimaginable ways. This time around, it has worked on the old-school Defender 110 which it calls the ‘Project Rowdy’. Project Rowdy is tough on the outside, plush on the inside, and powerful under the hood. The highlight of this project is the Corvette engine that sits under the hood! What more would you like from a customized SUV?

What Does The Project Rowdy Look Like On The Outside?

  • British Racing Green Solid Exterior Shade
  • Steel Bumpers
  • 18-inch Sawtooth Silver Wheels
  • BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A Tires
  • Brembo Brakes with Red Calipers
  • Full Roll Cage
  • Warn Winch
  • LED Lights At The Front And Back On The Roof
2020 Land Rover Defender 110 "Project Rowdy" by ECD Automotive Design Exterior
- image 895937

ECD Automotive has retained the original and it looks more like a simple restoration job on the outside than a complete redo. The company has chosen British Racing Green Solid in Full Gloss as the exterior shade and it looks classy. The circular headlights grace the face with the parking lamps and turn indicators sitting on either side. A huge bull bar covers the grille and the headlights and it extends the side as well. The aftermarket company has replaced the stock bumper with a steel one and it houses a Warn winch as well.

The Defender 110 is a boxy SUV and looks very plain and simple from the side. Boxy SUVs are appreciated by the purists; look at the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon and the Suzuki Jimny as well.

The Project Rowdy features a full roll cage with forward-facing auxiliary lights that give it that butch and retro look. This four-door customized Defender 110 comes with basic, manually-adjusted wing mirrors. There is no chrome treatment anywhere on the body whatsoever. The Project Rowdy rides on BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires wrapped 18-inch Sawtooth Silver wheels. They look good, but I also think simple steel wheels painted in black or gunmetal shade would add to the retro looks even more. There is sidestep as well, which I’m guessing is sourced from SVX as is in its other project vehicles.

2020 Land Rover Defender 110 "Project Rowdy" by ECD Automotive Design Exterior
- image 895943

The rear profile is a little too busy and may not be to everyone’s liking. ECD Automotive has equipped a spare tire on the tailgate and it doesn’t suit the persona very well. The cover on the spare tire also doubles up as a ladder of sorts to access the roof. The old-school brake lights, reverse lights, and turn indicators look exquisite.

You can see an ECD-embossed steel plate affixed here as well. The short steel bumper with exposed screws looks sweet. Both the bumpers help increase the approach and departure angles of the SUV to a huge extent. There are two LED spotlights on the roof facing rearwards. But, overall, the Project Rowdy looks fantastic and will please the purist in you.

What Does The Project Rowdy Look Like On The Inside?

  • Hand Tipped Leather Treatment
  • Evander Wood Rim Steering Wheel
  • Vintage Series Gauges
  • Recaro Seats
  • Alpine Infotainment Touchscreen System
  • Infinity Kappa Audio System
  • Thewlis Gregson Picnic Drawer In The Cargo Area
2020 Land Rover Defender 110 "Project Rowdy" by ECD Automotive Design Interior
- image 895942

Generally, the interior is given a lot of attention in such projects. Tuners focus on the stuff under the hood or the aesthetic upgrades. However, ECD made sure the cabin feels plush as well. The company has made use of a light copper brown color for the leather upholstery and the dash which it calls Hand Tipped Leather. It looks exquisite and brings out the retro feel of the SUV. ECD has sourced the seats from Recaro and the front seats are heated and ventilated. The electric controls for the seats are placed on either side of the gear lever. That’s a unique positioning for the controls!

2020 Land Rover Defender 110 "Project Rowdy" by ECD Automotive Design Interior
- image 895940

The cockpit comprises of an ‘Evander Wood Rim’ steering wheel with Land Rover center cap. This old-school steering wheel is pretty big and doesn’t feature any mounted controls whatsoever. Even the horn is on the stalk next peeping from the left of the wheel. Even the instrument cluster comes with Vintage Series gauges.

On the top of the center console, there’s an analog clock that is seen even on the most premium cars in the world. It is also a signature Land Rover trait to have an analog clock in the cabin. Below that is an Alpine infotainment touchscreen system that supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Sirius XM. The Kappa Series audio system is sourced from Infinity Speakers. Other niceties include refrigerated cup holders, a front-facing camera, and heated blind spot mirrors.

There is also a custom Thewlis Gregson Picnic Drawer in the cargo area. It comes with a lot of silverware, including wine glasses. It wouldn’t be the worst idea to stop in the middle of the woods and sip wine while enjoying nature, would it?

What Powers The Project Rowdy?

  • Corvette-Sourced 6.2-liter, LS3 V-8 Engine
  • 565 Horsepower
  • 485 Pound-feet Of Torque
  • Six-Speed Automatic Gearbox
  • Custom-Air Suspension
2020 Land Rover Defender 110 "Project Rowdy" by ECD Automotive Design Drivetrain
- image 895939

The Project Rowdy’s biggest selling point is the mill that powers it. The SUV comes with a 6.2-liter, LS3 V-8 engine sourced from a Corvette! It makes 565 ponies and 485 pound-feet of torque. This engine replaced the LS2 series in the Corvette engine lineup in 2008. Power is sent to the wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox.

A couple of years back, a Dutch company called Tophat used this engine in the Defender and it performed very well. So, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do well in this customized Defender. In fact, ECD has powered its earlier products as well with the same mill. And, not to mention, it comes with the standard GM warranty.

The braking duties are taken care of by Brembo brakes with red calipers.

What makes the Project Rowdy even more special is its suspension. ECD has equipped its custom air suspension to this SUV that improves its off-roading skills by a big margin. There is no word on the exhaust system, but I would’ve preferred the sweet-sounding Borla Performance Exhaust System that was used in other iterations of the Defender by the tuner.

Final Thoughts

2020 Land Rover Defender 110 "Project Rowdy" by ECD Automotive Design Exterior
- image 895943

There is no word on the Project Rowdy’s pricing, but expect it to be well into six-digit figures. The SUV is a complete package with swell mods on the outside, especially with the roll cage and the bulbar upfront.

The Corvette-sourced engine makes it a beast to drive and is complemented well by the air suspension and the all-terrain tires. The cabin is a different story altogether and that itself is enough for you to consider this SUV. With a 110-inch wheelbase, the Project Rowdy is spacious on the inside and features leather Recaro seats that are sporty as well as luxurious. Finally, the picnic drawer in the cargo area is the icing on the cake. Overall, a great package, but could be highly overpriced.

  • Leave it
    • Price unknown, but will be relatively high
    • 18-inch tires look slightly small and don’t give the retro vibes

Source: E.C.D. Automotive Design

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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