Are tarted up Land Rover Defenders acceptable? It's a thorny one, the very essence of a 'proper' Land Rover surely being the less paint on its (preferably muddy and dented) aluminium panels and the bigger the gaps between them the better. Shiny paint, balloon tyres and blingy accoutrements aren't really the done thing.
What, no sheepdog on the passenger seat?
But, then again, when you pair the above with a 460hp, 4.2-litre supercharged V8 bellowing out of side exhausts the inner purist faces a stern challenge.
And as the AMG G-Wagen moves steadily into quilted leather old-age there's something gratifyingly uncouth about this JE Engineering 'Zulu' Defender, bass-bin aside still keeping just enough proper off-road credibility to keep us interested. And while a G-Wagen can just about - at a pinch - cut it as everyday transport you'd still have to be pretty bloody minded and dedicated to choose it. Never mind fork out £90K on it. And for that we'd salute anyone willing to take the plunge.
If you needed any further encouragement the dealer has even put up a video focusing on the bit that really matters - the noise.
JE ENGINEERING LAND ROVER DEFENDER ZULU Price: £89,950 Why you should: 460hp, side exhausts, snorkel and sinister black paint Why you shouldn't: Price requires some serious denial
And after all that you still can only drive it with the window open.
Let me guess you think a Defender is cramped, noisy and has a too small a cabin? So what if you added a wider body, increased elbow, leg and head room. You might even improve NVH, refinement and comfort too. Yet still retaining the modular build and ladder chassis construction, live axles and off road ability?
Umm sounds rather like you are wanting a Discovery 1!!!!!
BTW - lack of elbow room is a good thing in the Defender, as it allows for 3 seats in the front but a narrow overall width (good for off roading). It also means as the driver you are sat right next to the window, this allows you to stick your head out when off road and easily see the front or rear wheel. This can be quite handy on certain types of terrain. Moving the seat further away from the window seriously affects this.
As the owner of a blinged up Defender, I firmly fall on the side that these cars are awesome, if a little far from their pure off-roader brief.
Twisted and JE do charge incredible prices though - Twisted diesel Defenders, while fantastic, start at £75k... Admittedly, both companies take the cars apart and rebuild them, rather than just sticking bits on.
My own has had a rebuild and tuning (by Nene Overland - a bit cheaper than JE/Twisted, and thanks to the previous owner), and on-road performs more like a Discovery in terms of refinement and cruising ability, than the Defender it's based on. However, the nice interior means that it is useless as an off-road tool: you're too busy worried about ruining the seats and carpets (rubber matting in large quantities has been purchased after I spent an entire Sunday cleaning mud out of it after a shoot recently)
I still love the idea of a supercharged V8 in a Defender. Money no object, I'd have one. JE also put the twin turbo JLR V6 (250bhp) into Defenders. Cost of engine/drivetrain conversion alone? £30k+. Ouch.
The exhausts exiting under the rocksliders really gets my goat, I don't know what they were thinking doing that? I had a v8 defender, and it was nice and rugged and modified and cost me less than a 20th of the price of this mad thing. I think I should set up shop building these if people are prepared to pay this much.
Am I the only one who thinks that the noise on the video is a bit tame and boring? Lots of low revs burbling from the V8 just seemed a bit monotonous. I was really hoping for some serious beans going on with this soundtrack.
But then again I do drive (occasionally) a TVR V8s.
Maybe giving it the full Heinz leads to too much wheelspin (can you have too much wheelspin).