RE: PH Meets: Twisted Automotive

RE: PH Meets: Twisted Automotive

Tuesday 5th February

PH Meets: Twisted Automotive

PH gets exclusive access to the secret location that houses Twisted's 'new' Defender collection



Even if the iconic boxiness of Land Rover's Defender is not for you, the sight of 80 cars parked side-by-side in a dimly lit warehouse is something to behold. Each has been sat here patiently since it was delivered, only occasionally exposed from beneath its plastic covers to be started up and dusted off. Three years have passed since these cars rolled off the production line in Solihull, yet each looks as box-fresh as it did the moment those iconic D-E-F-E-N-D-E-R letters were first mounted on the nose.

"You won't be surprised to hear that we don't tell people about this location, all of these cars are just too special," says Twisted director Charles Fawcett, as he proudly shows PH around his company's hideout. "Every car here is on delivery mileage and has not moved since it arrived."

He doesn't just mean 'special' in the last-ever-Defender sense either; the specification of each is significant too. Thirty-six of the cars here, which will eventually be enhanced and put on sale as part of Twisted's upcoming Make History line-up, represent the very last example of their variant, each finished in an original colour. It's a special bunch, then - and remember, we're only faced with a portion of the original 240-car-strong fleet, which Twisted paid £7.5 million to buy.


"Some of those cars have been here since 2015, when they were the final cars of each variant to be made," says Charles. "All but three cars in the collection wear 16 plates, which is evidence of how late they were made," he continues, referring to the fact that 16 plates were only applied to cars registered from March 2016 onwards, two months after Defender production ended.

Charles, a born and bred Yorkshireman, lets us snoop around and lift the dust covers to take some precious snaps. He's quite happy to let us examine the new stuff while his attention turns to the uncovered vehicles parked against the wall. There are a dozen or so of them, each a Land Rover of some shape or form from yesteryear, but these ones aren't here to be sold. They're more personal.

"This Defender has a lot of meaning to me, because it's a former car of an early customer that really inspired Twisted," Charles explains as we stand next to a 53-plate 110 that's finished in a rough layer of army green paint and wearing a camo-coloured convertible rear end, with a snorkel intake and shovel mounted on the bonnet. "He sadly passed away recently, so it felt right to bring his car in. I don't know what we'll do with it, but it's a car that means a lot to Twisted."


Given that Twisted often deals with customers from finer walks of life, it's nice to hear that the firm's more humble beginnings are still valued to such a high extent. It has helped distinguish it, too; with so many Defender-modding companies focused on the "bling" aspect, Charles believes Twisted has held onto a more honest niche. "It is always a Defender with Twisted - we won't impersonate a higher spec car like the Range Rover. Some days you won't like it, it's a Defender! We'll always stay true to the car's origins."

The near eight-foot high Series IIA sat a few cars along is, you might think, not one to fit the bill, since its four wheels have been swapped for enormous tank tracks. But it is no less genuine than any other vehicle here, having originally been built for, and used by, an environmental company that needed something even more rugged than four-wheel drive. Charles wouldn't have it in here it if it were a glitzy six-wheeler developed as a vanity project; it has to be true to form.

Of course, Twisted endeavours to work a certain amount of its own magic on Maurice Wilks's original vision - that much has been clear since it shoehorned the first GM 6.2-litre V8 into a Series II and fitted Bilstein suspension. But, as Charles stressed on our drive in a 430hp 110 from his HQ to the Defender hideout, "our setup has no negative impact on off-road performance, only improvements to on-road handling". Twisted, he says, has no interest in changing the car's fundamental properties, such as its ride height, because that'll affect approach and departure angles etc. Instead, the company's engineers focus on improving the refinement and usability of what is a 70-year-old philosophy.


Upon returning to Twisted's Thirsk HQ, we meet James Ayre, who handles marketing. One thing immediately becomes clear as soon as we slip through the reception door into the workshop: the end of production has not hurt Twisted. Quite the opposite, actually. James tells us "demand has gone up so much that the workshop's gone from five to eight ramps".

There are several more Defenders on site waiting for their work, plus a whole line-up of used Landys that are being bought and sold under Twisted's sister brand, LR Motors. Three years since the last Defender was made there is certainly no shortage of work. Nor is there any shortage of enthusiasm from customers. Ayre explains that now no new cars will be added to the global stock, people are viewing their Defenders in a different light. They're no longer the workhorse, but the weekend toy. A utilitarian car to drive for fun.

"People spend more on their cars now than ever," says James, "because the cars are worth more. You only have to look at how the orders are now, the amount of work that goes into each car, the work hours required to complete each, to understand that this is far from just a simple upgrade."


Each Defender is stripped down and then built back up to specification by a single technician - James calls them that because they're specialists not just in one area but the whole Defender build - with the work including realignment of body panels, full cabin insulation and, in some models, complete powertrain replacements.

"In some ways, the classic build techniques of Land Rover have given us more work, because cars that left the production line rarely had straight panels," notes James, wryly. "It means we can always improve the finish, no matter how little work the customer wants done!"

Twisted customers come from all over the world, but there's consistency among their requests. Before production ended, cars would regularly be bought from Land Rover in £50k specification, and owners would request that Twisted applied around £50k of enhancements. But now, with some models going for double that value, the firm is receiving enhancement orders that bring the car's total value up to around £150k.


This change in spending is something that Charles believes will future-proof the company, even after his fleet of new Defenders sells out in three to four years time. "I expect work to get busier and busier - particularly when the new Defender is launched," he explains. "It'll be brilliant [the new car], no doubt, but the original Defender will remain the true Defender to us and our customers".

Although nearing capacity, Twisted has no intention of moving closer to a big city, with its boss preferring to remain in picturesque Thirsk. Charles believes a shift to London, for example, would harm the company's family feel, adding "customers can get here on the train from Kings Cross in only a couple of hours". Those who want a Twisted - even those who've flown from abroad - are clearly happy to travel for it.

"We're immensely proud of the global image we have," adds James. "People have even tried to imitate our brand logo on non-genuine cars. We've got messages from people saying they've seen Twisted stickers on Defenders all over the world. It's a nice, flattering problem for a small company like us to have." Indeed it is. One that confirms that passion for Defenders is far from fading - and emphasises just how influential this little company from Thirsk has swiftly become.







 





Author
Discussion

b14

Original Poster:

564 posts

126 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Great article but needs some details ironed out. The LR on tracks is not a Defender (the title given to the line in the 90s - before then they were 90s/110s and before then, Series I/II/IIA/III Stage 1), it is a Series IIA converted by Cuthbertson onto tracks.

Itsallicanafford

1,901 posts

97 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
I owned a 90 CSW for about 10 years...the thought of somebody spending £100K + on a customised version is, in my mind, totally mental but its their money so enjoy!

Twisted look like they are making a good business out of meeting this demand so massive Kudos to them...

steveb8189

197 posts

129 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
b14 said:
Great article but needs some details ironed out. The LR on tracks is not a Defender (the title given to the line in the 90s - before then they were 90s/110s and before then, Series I/II/IIA/III Stage 1), it is a Series IIA converted by Cuthbertson onto tracks.
This particular one also seems to be for sale:

http://www.lrmotors.co.uk/used/land-rover/series-i...


Sam Sheehan

22 posts

75 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Ah, right you are. Thanks for letting me know.

JerseyBean

1 posts

108 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Good luck to them. All their mods look far more tasteful than the Khan efforts - but the pricing is bonkers. I suppose LR didn’t help things with their £150k ‘works’ edition. 🙄
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Fire99

9,466 posts

167 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
A very exclusive Tractor club biggrin

BarcelonaLewis

60 posts

74 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Two twisted features in a week, seem a little advetorial...

Coin Slot.

2,853 posts

101 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
JerseyBean said:
Good luck to them. All their mods look far more tasteful than the Khan efforts - but the pricing is bonkers. I suppose LR didn’t help things with their £150k ‘works’ edition. ??
Top lurking! cool


C Lee Farquar

2,284 posts

154 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Death row before desecration.

How many years before someone can make a living reverting these abominations to their pure, standard selves. frown

Pothole

26,193 posts

220 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Any plans to ditch the nasty plastic door handles?

BlackandWhite

20 posts

132 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Love it, after winning this weeks Euromillions I have placed orders for the Twisted "Smoke & Mirrors Final Edition", the Twisted "Emperor's New Clothes Final Edition" and of course the Twisted "Very Last of the Final End of Production Barrel Scraping Terminatrix Edition". Very few manufacturers would be smart enough to widen the production line on the final day to allow 240 "last one's" to all roll off at exactly the same time, genius coordination. Be assured, when I give you my last Rolo, there will be one remaining in the packet, that's how I know it's my last one, to be down to your last two hundred and forty last one's causes me some confusion......... still, now I am richer than Sheikh Ma Handi, I may display my wealth and good taste by purchasing the final 80 and having Twisted weld them together to create a proper 320 wheel drive, 176litre Uber Urban Combat Vehicle. Does anyone have the plate TH1 RSK for sale?

Dollyman1850

6,005 posts

188 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
I'll bet you can almost hear the oxidisation happening under those covers hehe

N.

big_rob_sydney

2,208 posts

132 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Dollyman1850 said:
I'll bet you can almost hear the oxidisation happening under those covers hehe

N.
Great business strategy, isn't it? Not only do they sell a final, final, no really finally final edition, but they also have work lined up to repair them in the not-too-distant future.

Brilliant.

robm3

4,566 posts

165 months

Monday 4th February
quotequote all
Haha, you gotta 'love' the Pistonheads cynicism....
Far better that a company like Twisted shut down right?
I mean what right have they to keep servicing and improving an English legend!

Anyhow, I was one of those who travelled to Twisted UK (from Australia) to talk about getting my Defender modified. The Twisted Lads sent me two pallets of gear that myself and local mechanic fitter here in Oz. Picture of which in my profile from 3 years back.

Thoroughly enjoyed the visit and what a great bunch of enthusiasts Twisted lads are as well!

Good Luck to Them!




redroadster

835 posts

170 months

Tuesday 5th February
quotequote all
I'd buy am AMG G wagon over these piles of junk .

bobbo89

2,463 posts

83 months

Tuesday 5th February
quotequote all
Didn't know a huge amount about Twisted so did a bit of research and I really don't see what's to dislike about them. Apart from the odd dodgy grille that you can spec they seem quite tasteful and done to a very high standard.

Maybe it's purists who don't like seeing anything modified or 'messed about with' or maybe it's people who've never driven or experienced a Defender who just don't get it.. I've got a real soft spot for them and so given the money i'd be making the short drive to Thirsk and putting an order in!

Tuvra

7,746 posts

163 months

Tuesday 5th February
quotequote all
bobbo89 said:
Didn't know a huge amount about Twisted so did a bit of research and I really don't see what's to dislike about them. Apart from the odd dodgy grille that you can spec they seem quite tasteful and done to a very high standard.

Maybe it's purists who don't like seeing anything modified or 'messed about with' or maybe it's people who've never driven or experienced a Defender who just don't get it.. I've got a real soft spot for them and so given the money i'd be making the short drive to Thirsk and putting an order in!
Or maybe it's the people that have realised the Defender by modern standards is an awful vehicle.

I almost bought a new one in 2005, had one on demo for a week, hated it, went out and bought a Hilux instead. Since then I have hired a few of them (mainly station wagons) and I am always glad to take them back. They look very cool but that unfortunately is where the "coolness" stops.

IMO if you spend £100k on a Defender you are madder than a box of frogs!

Europa1

7,474 posts

126 months

Tuesday 5th February
quotequote all
redroadster said:
I'd buy am AMG G wagon over these piles of junk .
You crack on. I'm sure the guys at Twisted will be gutted.

C4SYT

1 posts

25 months

Tuesday 5th February
quotequote all
No body kits, bling or 20” spinners here.... Ok I’m clearly moderately bias, however, it needs saying that we already know, the defender, won’t be as comfortable as a Hilux, as cheap as a Navara, fast as an SVR or as reliable as a rav4. That’s not why we build them or our customers buy them. It’s not a car, it’s a Defender. It has roots in the original Series models. It is part of our heritage and development as a nation. Everyone’s uncle, granddad, teacher or friends dad had one somewhere. They mean so much to so many, but make no sense at all to the rest of the population. If you get it you get it, if you don’t, it just doesn’t seem like logic.

What it does, is create emotions that outweigh any practical benefits. Just the same as any many other hand built cars. What we do it it, in my humble opinion, develops that emotion, marginally bridges the gap between totally impractical and unusable and enjoyable/practical, an event and driving pleasure for other reasons than electric gizmos like lane assist and auto parking. They will never be a Range Rover or anything else. They were never intended to be. We never intended to enter that space, but the nature of a hand built appreciating asset being further enhanced by hand the old fashioned way, puts it into a £ bracket that allows comparison by those that don’t get it, but that’s the beauty of any thing that devides opinion.

The latest release of Series inspired models is the final batch available to the general public. It won’t happen twice.

I want to keep them all really.... is love to hear from anyone who shares the same passion.

Thanks for reading. CRF

jon-yprpe

70 posts

26 months

Tuesday 5th February
quotequote all
What a miserable bunch of miserly kill-joys.

I had a Defender, loved it. Enjoyed tinkering with it and getting all the foibles sorted.

People have been modding unsuitable cars for years - so why criticise Twisted?

Great company with passion for engineering and employing people in the UK car industry.

If people will pay ££££ for a product them it’s up to them - Twisted are tapping into a demand. They’re not forcing people down the cashpoint.

Would you all rather they went bust and more people on the dole?