Not often do we come across such elegantly customized trucks

Land Rover Defender is not a new name. The off-road compact SUV came to life with this moniker in the 1980s, before which it was known as the Land Rover Ninety and Land Rover One Ten. This vehicle went off the production line in 2016, but such was the craze that the automaker had to cave into the customers’ demands, so it rolled out a special edition of the Defender called the Defender Works V-8 in 2018. The Defender, as is with any off-road truck, has been at the mercy of its owners and we have seen many customized versions of the same. But this one particular company called ECD Automotive Design specializes in customizing Defenders. It recently experimented with a customer Defender 130 and the results have made our day.

Overview

The aftermarket company calls this custom Defender 130 Project Deep Blue. As the company puts it, the “design inspiration for this beautiful custom Defender 130 came from a 2017 Aston Martin DB11.” The Project Deep Blue is not just about looks and appearance; it is about performance and power as well, as it comes with an engine borrowed from a sports car. This is more of a collector’s edition than a mainstream vehicle that caters to all your wishes. Should you expect a lot from Project Deep Blue?

Exterior

Land Rover Defender by ECD Auto Design
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  • Aston Martin Midnight Blue exterior paint
  • Tubular A-bar bumper
  • Warn winch on the front bumper
  • 20-inch Mondial Retro Wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich All-Terrain K02 tires
  • Spare tire on the tailgate
  • Line-X spray for the rear bed

Let’s start by talking about the biggest highlight of the Project Deep Blue – its exterior shade. This truck is finished in Aston Martin Midnight Blue. If you are an Aston Martin fan, you will recognize this color, as it is an original paint color available for the DB11. There are no major changes made to the body, but it has a lot of additions. Upfront, it comes with a big bulbar. The tubular A-bar bumper is installed with a VR12 Warn winch that makes it a lot more off-road friendly. The round headlights and the boxy looks are retained. The hood is sculpted and makes the truck look very butch. On the roof is a set of four LED spotlights to brighten up the world around you.

There is something about these boxy SUVs, be it in any shape or size. There is the mighty Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, Suzuki Jimny, and now this one. The side profile is as simple as it can get. This four-door customized Defender 130 comes with basic, manually-adjusted wing mirrors. The fenders house the turn signal indicators and an air vent. The Project Deep Blue comes with SVX side steps and a skirting with a nice pattern on it. It also comes with a full external roll cage. As for the rollers, the Project Deep Blue packs 20-inch Mondial Retro Wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich All-terrain K02 tires.

The rear, even though customized, does not look very good. The huge spare tire on the tailgate looks out of place. If not for that, the tailgate, with those retro taillights, looks smashing. Old-school purists will drool over it. You have exhaust pipes peeping from under the vehicle, not because they are a little too long, but because there is literally no bumper. The roll cage structure adds a certain character to the truck’s overall appearance and I like it quite a bit; or as they say, I’m diggin’ it. There are two LED spotlights on the roof facing rearwards. It will help lighten up the truck bed in bad-lit conditions. Apart from that, there are mesh wing-tops, light guards at the rear, a swing-away wheel carrier, and Line-X for the rear bed.

Interior

Land Rover Defender by ECD Auto Design
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  • Beige leather seats
  • Momo steering wheel
  • Fantastic-looking black glass gauges in the instrument cluster
  • Automatic headlights
  • JL Audio amplified sound system
  • Wireless charging for mobile devices

Although the Project Deep Blue gives you feels that it will have a barebones cabin, it actually doesn’t. The cabin is quite plush and luxurious. For your seating, ECD Auto Design has used Corbeau Trailcat seats in both the front and the back. In fact, the seats are heated and ventilated and also wrapped in ‘Spinneybeck Pueblito & Botany Bay leather’. I’m not sure how comfortable the seats are with this hide on, but since they have a fancy name, I’m guessing they are quite comfortable. There are many other interesting touches here, like the Parchment beige stitching on the seats and the black suede headliner.

To make sure the Project Deep Blue exudes class all around, the company has installed a Momo Prototipo steering wheel that literally does only what a wheel is supposed to do – steer you. There are no mounted controls and other shenanigans here. However, you miss out on airbags as well. Other features include Apple CarPlay, a JL Audio amplified sound system with a subwoofer, rear AC, wireless charging for mobile devices, automatic headlights, USB ports, and power locks and windows, to name a few. There are All-American Tradition Series black glass gauges in the instrument cluster as well to give the otherwise feature-filled truck some old-school touches.

Drivetrain

Land Rover Defender by ECD Auto Design
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  • 6.2-liter, Corvette-sourced V-8 engine
  • 565 Horsepower
  • 484 Pound-feet of Torque
  • Borla Performance exhaust
  • Can it tow anything?

Coming to the engine specs, this Project Deep Blue comes with a 6.2-liter, LS3 V-8 engine sourced from the Chevy Corvette. This mill makes 565 ponies and 485 pound-feet of torque. This engine replaced the LS2 series in the Corvette engine lineup in 2008. It is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox that seems sufficient for a vehicle of this magnitude. A Dutch company called Tophat used this engine in the Defender a couple of years back and it performed very well. So, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do well in this customized Defender 130. Oh, and it is covered under GM warranty. For sweet acoustics, the tuner has also installed a Borla Performance exhaust system. There is no word on the towing and payload capacities, but come on, you’re not going to use it for that, are you?

Chevrolet LS3 V-8 Specs

Power 426-436 hp
Torque 420 lb-ft (569 Nm) - 428 lb-ft (580 Nm)
Block cast aluminum
Cylinder head cast aluminum
Max engine speed 6,600 rpm
Engine orientation Longitudinal
Displacement 6,126 cc (367 cu in)
Compression ratio 10.7:1
Firing order 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3

Final Thoughts

Land Rover Defender by ECD Auto Design
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This car’s biggest attraction is the Aston Martin DB11 exterior shade. The overall design of the truck may draw polarizing opinions, especially the rear end, but I’m quite okay with it. The interior reeks of class and luxury and gives those high-end, premium vehicles a run for their money. The 565-horsepower engine is the icing on the cake and we are sure you will have fun ripping this beast off the roads and on the tarmac. Since ECD Auto Design has customized this one-off model for a customer, there is no word on the pricing, and we cannot expect the same build again.

  • Leave it
    • Spare tire on the tailgate is not to my liking
    • The steering wheel kind-of feels out of place
    • Not available for sale
What do you think?
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