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E.C.D. Automotive Design Modernizes the Classic Range Rover

Kamil Kaluski May 30, 2018 All Things Hoon 18 Comments

E.C.D. Automotive Design, formerly known as East Coast Defender, changed its name because of this vehicle. The problem is that the Defender market is quickly becoming saturated, at least here on the Boston area. Old ones are constantly being overhauled and new old ones are constantly being imported. And then there is the new Jeep Wrangler, which should make potential overhauled Defender buyer really question their choice. I know this because I drove them both, and I’d take the Jeep for every reason except the nostalgic one. 

And that nostalgic reason is a biggie but it sure isn’t limited to the Defender. The long wheel base Range Rover now known as the Classic was introduced when I was in high school. I immediately fell in love with it. In the twenty years since I have looked at a few of those but never pulled the trigger, usually ending up with something less reliable and refined. Prices and conditions varied and there was never a time when a Rangie I could afford was in a good enough condition for me to own. And I am guessing that I am not the only one. 

E.C.D. Automotive Design realized that the market is strong enough to crank out these Range Rover Classics by the dozen, and this is the first of its kind. And they’re not the only ones. Completely rebuilt, overhauled, and improved, the series of these Range Rovers will be available in three trim levels, two wheel base lengths, two engine choices, and an undefined number of color options. 

Inside you have a choice of the original dash that received the full redo treatment, or a more modern dash from a 90s Land Rover Disco, which despite still having some drawbacks, is a significant improvement over the Range Rover dash. The seats look and probably feel better than they ever did when the Rovers rolled off their UK assembly plant. Suspension was all redone as well although E.C.D. seem to have gotten away from the original air suspension, which isn’t a bad idea.

Under the good is the obvious choice of a Chevy small block with a six speed automatic transmission or the less desirable Rover V8 mated to a 4-speed transmission. The pictured example is finished off is a set of original wheels, but wheels sized 16″-20″ are available. 

As much as I love the current new Range Rovers, having the choice, I think I would select one of these for my Vermont ski/summer house. It has everything the new one does and the retro looks, which  have simply become cool now. E.C.D. doesn’t say what the price is, but the price is obvious, and undoubtedly many who graduated from high school on the mid-90s have enough dough to splurge on one. 

 

  • Batshitbox

    Land Rover Classic, which seems to be part of Jaguar Land Rover, has been offering Range Rover restoration services since early 2017. I’m not sure if they’re doing them on spec or bespoke. Also, they’re on their own side of the pond. Nice to see the market develop here. Now, off to the lottery machine for ol’ Bats…


  • neight428

    “… usually ending up with something less reliable…”

    Yikes.

    • Vairship

      I read that too, and wondered whether the purchase of a “less reliable” vehicle involved a trip to North Korea!

  • There are lots of potential donors for this series. I see these parked, mouldering and forgotten, behind garages and import repair places all over the area. They are a good looking truck, and I like what the restore accomplishes, particularly the drive train.

  • Rover 1

    As a design statement of modernist attitudes, it’s hard to come up with a purer example than the original Range Rover.

    The arts people running The Louvre Museum in Paris certainly thought so, when they invited Rover to display an example of one of the early Range Rovers at their transportation design display in 1970.
    There was insufficient room for an actual real one to be displayed so a quarter scale model was used instead.

    This was, of course the early two door version, not the later four door shown in safety orange.

    Nowadays it’s hard to disentangle the ‘premiumness’ of years of wood and leather marketing from the Range Rover’s more practical roots, from a time when quality vehicles were different to luxury vehicles.

    But the fact remains that no other automobile has been exhibited at The Louvre before or since.

    That’s why I can see the appeal in an early Rangie, but for me, it would be the early two door fitted with the later motor, transmission and brakes and some of the later interior parts. I wouldn’t bother with the Chev V8 though. As an aside, Overfinch in the UK was offering the option of a SBC way back in ’75.

    I,d go for the Australian 4.4 P76 V8, offered as an option on new Rangies in Australia way back, but taken out to a reliable 5.0 litres as many were, using Holden red six pistons.

    It looks like I’d better hurry, RR Classics aren’t cheap any more.

    • Monkey10is

      The proportions of the original 2dr are just about perfect and the lack of a C-pillar gives exactly the right emphasis to the ‘floating’ roof.

      Best of all though is the door handle which fits neatly into the zone between the two bodyside swage lines (the same as the front lights and grille, rear lights and fuel filler): This is car design just as god intended….

    • outback_ute

      The add for the red one states the 4.4 V8 was only used in the P76 sedan, which is not quite correct as it was also put in Leyland Terrier trucks. As a bit of trivia, the Australian market was the first to have an automatic transmission in the Range Rover, because the local arm still had engineering/manufacturing capacity then!

      My ideal Range Rover would be a 2 door set up for off road, with an LS and 5-speed. I have a bit of a hard time with lowered, luxurified versions because fundamentally they are a bit of a tractor.

      • Rover 1

        The Chrysler Touqueflite, smooth and tough. Aussie first with A/C too, and you’re right about the Terrier,slightly detuned. When they closed down production, they had a lot of motors left over, our local NZMC (BLMC) dealer had them on pallets, complete for $2000 NZ$ back when that was the price of a new 500cc motorbike. A local company had a half hearted go at making a kit car using one with a Triumph Herald chassis (!!) and bodywork designed by a blind person, called the Escartus.

        It was no Ilinga.

        The Rover V8s are quite reliable if not run too hot which is why I’d stick to one of those. Putting in a LS quickly means mating electronics and uprating axles and driveshafts.

        A bit of a tractor with great wheel articulation.

    • Rover 1

      Or there is now this option, a Tesla powered Rangie Classic.
      (31.05.2018)::Main_4_3&utm_source=20180531

  • crank_case

    Sounds much like what Overfinch was doing with classic Range Rovers when they were new. Not sure about the Disco Dashboard, I’m sure it’s better in some ways, but why would you want to feel like you’re in a different car?

    • neight428

      The dash likely follows from the LS swap. In my musing over powertrain options for my Firebird, the LS swap option looms large, but I have gathered that making old gauges work with a modern GM PCM adds another level of complexity that likely involves inherent unreliability of the original and dodgy suppliers of low-volume, essentially custom, parts. Aftermarket plug and play options are fairly abundant.

      • crank_case

        Surely aftermarket guages from people like Stack are way easier to integrate into the existing dash than trying to make a Disco dash work, which is a fitting name, because flashing lights are pretty common.. 😀

        • neight428

          Maybe I misunderstood, I thought “disco” reference was more reflective of style than being donated from the Land Rover Discovery model. There are individual gauges that are compatible, likely some that would fit in the OEM dash holes.

      • Rover 1

        Another good reason behind uprating the Rover V8? Compatability with existing.

      • outback_ute

        You might be able to find a compatible instrument cluster to swap completely, with wiring harness.

  • Zentropy

    This is so much more appealing than Land Rover’s current lineup of squashed-greenhouse, Evoque-y vehicles.
    I’m liking this one:

    • Rover 1

      Why change the signature indicator lenses at the front?

      • Zentropy

        Personal preference, I guess. I like the contrast of round lights on rectangular vehicles. Plus, I like the way the round cutouts compliment the adjacent round headlights. Besides, the stock rectangular indicators looks like something out of a JC Whitney catalog.

        I like the above design so much, I’ve considered picking up a cheap Volvo 240 wagon and mimicking the grille/headlight design and color scheme. Or better yet, a 145, which already looks similar up front (though they are harder to find).