Go anywhere in the world where the Land Rover Defender built its reputation, and you will find original Defenders still adding to that reputation. Since Land Rover ended production and wasn’t able to secure exclusive rights to the design, not only has one of the most famous basic utility vehicles gotten even more popular in even more places, there are more people making more versions of it. In 2017, Jim Ratcliffe raised the floodgates in launching Ineos Automotive and the Grenadier SUV and Quartermaster pickup. In 2019, Poland’s Land Serwis began stamping Series 1 Defenders with original tooling and modern builds. In 2021, Connecticut’s Black Bridge Motors announced its Function restomod that has become the Mark IV and Mark X, these being Defender bodies on a JK-series Jeep Wrangler frame, powered by GM’s LS3, LT1, or LT4 engines. And now, for buyers who prefer to do such shopping west of the Mississippi, Utah’s Legend Motor Company is also working the Defender-Jeep mashup. The company’s Signature Series 001 sits a re-engineered Defender body on JK Wrangler underpinnings.
Whereas Black Bridge drapes the body-in-white with 3/8-inch aluminum panels, Legend hangs aluminum panels with custom Kevlar backing painted to match the exterior. The composite provides additional body protection, while Kevlar underbody panels lend protection to the vital bits. Engine choices are GM’s 6.2-liter LT4 V8 making 455 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, or the 6.2-liter LT4 V8 making 650 hp and 650 lb-ft, fed by a 22.5-gallon polyethelene fuel tank. An aluminum four-row radiator and two brushless electric fans help keep temperatures in control during summer outings. Either engine shifts through a GM eight-speed transmission, sending output through an Atlas II transfer case with a 3.8:1 low gear. A Fox 2.5-inch adjustable shocks with remote reservoirs flexes Dana 60 HD axles with ARB air lockers front and rear. The footwear poking beyond the flared arches is 17-inch steelies wrapped in 37-inch BFG Mud-Terrains.
We’ve seen enough restomods and SEMA Show cars to be familiar with the interior treatment: Custom Legend Motor gauges; a billet steering column that tilts; hand-sewn aniline leather for the front- and second-row buckets, and cargo-area jump seats; modern HVAC and Bluetooth audio; leather-trimmed floor mats, and so on.
Standard fit slides on a fabric top, bolts on a full-sized spare in back, and offers five colors. Price starts at $250,000. The real question is whether you want your license plates issued in Connecticut or Utah.