Trucks & SUVs

Range Rover Restomod: Classic Off-Road Style With Modern Reliability

Whether entry-level Evoque or tricked-out mild hybrid, the Range Rover can handle both off-road trails and downtown parties. It’s been that way since the first generation, now called the Range Rover Classic, first debuted in 1970. Unfortunately, no Range Rover is immune from glitches and faults. And buying a classic SUV means dealing with outdated parts.

But there is a way to give old SUVs like the Range Rover Classic a new lease on life: restomodding. Companies like Singer and Icon take old trucks and SUVs, strip them down, and install better-than-new components. You have all the classic style without the vintage headaches. And several shops can do the same for the Range Rover Classic.

ECD Automotive Design’s Range Rover Classic restomod

ECD Automotive Design first made waves with a restomodded Land Rover Defender 110. In place of the original low-power engine, ECD installed a 6.2-liter V8 making 430 hp, according to Motor1. The design team then installed a rooftop tent, and completely revamped the interior. And now, Hoonigan reports the company has turned its sights to the Range Rover Classic.

Starting with a County LWB model, ECD replaced the original engine with a 6.2-liter V8 making 403 hp, attached to a six-speed automatic. The engine itself received new fuel lines, fuel pump, and aluminum radiator. The Range Rover Classic had disc brakes as standard, according to Hagerty, but ECD replaced them with upgraded units.

The SUV now rides on ECD’s own air suspension and 18” Kahn Defend wheels. And to help it go even further off the beaten path, ECD installed a modern Land Rover transfer case and strengthened driveshaft.

ECD Automotive Design Range Rover Classic interior
ECD Automotive Design Range Rover Classic interior | ECD Automotive Design

As with the Defender, ECD installed LED headlights and replaced the standard seats with ones covered in Italian leather. The company prefers their builds stick as closely as possible to the original go-anywhere simplicity of the Range Rover, so the rest of the interior is fairly stock. The only other change is the digital gauges and modern infotainment screen.

ECD offers its Range Rover Classic builds in 3 levels: Retro, Pursuit, and Pinnacle. Retro is a ‘simple’ ground-up restoration, with Pursuit adding enough power to let the SUV go 0-60 in 5.9 seconds. And Pinnacle is, well, a truly custom one-off.

Range Rover Classic by Congleton Service

Congleton Service restored Range Rover Classics
Congleton Service restored Range Rover Classics | Congleton Service

ECD isn’t the only Range Rover Classic restomodder in the US, though. And while its team does excellent work, Jalopnik didn’t call ECD “the Singer of classic Range Rovers.” That would be Congleton Service. If ECD restores Range Rovers from the ground up, Congleton Service restores from the screws up.

Taylor Congleton and his employees have literally bought entire SUVs just to get one specific part that’s impossible to obtain otherwise. The company commissioned an Indiana firm to reproduce a specific rear window trim piece, and Congleton still isn’t satisfied with it. There’s even a British electrical engineer on staff who disassembles, sandblasts, and powder-coats certain electrical components because they’re simply unavailable nowadays.

Equal care is spent on the engine. Before Congleton Service bores the Range Rover Classic’s V8 out to 5.0 liters, the engine is stripped down, balanced, and ceramic-coated. Part of the restoration includes installing a new crankshaft, new ECU, a custom radiator, and even new cylinder liners. As a result, the engine goes from 150 hp to as much as 330.

Congleton Service restored Range Rover Classic interior
Congleton Service restored Range Rover Classic interior | Congleton Service

Congleton Service source most of their components from Vermont, which includes the custom leather for the interior. The customer can have any color they wish. The company also re-upholsters the seats, and even reproduces the transfer case warning sticker on the dash. Just about the only change is a Bluetooth-equipped radio.

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It’s in the details.

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Little wonder each build takes about a year.

How to get one of your own

1994 Land Rover Range Rover County LWB
1994 Land Rover Range Rover County LWB | Bring a Trailer

ECD can source a Range Rover Classic for you, though Congleton Service requires you source your own. In contrast to US-spec Defenders, RRCs are fairly affordable. At the time of writing, Bring a Trailer had a 1994 Range Rover County LWB available for $18,750.

However, Autotrader noted in its own report on Congleton that the SUVs are beginning to increase in value. Over in the UK, Jalopnik reported, Land Rover has even begun restoring its own restoration service, though it hasn’t come to the US.

Unfortunately, while obtaining a Range Rover Classic might not be that expensive, the restomod process will. ECD did not have any available RRC builds at the time of writing, but the Defender build reported by Motor1 cost $240,000. Congleton Service’s builds aren’t much cheaper. They start at $185k, the company only builds 3 or 4 a year, and the shop is completely booked for the next 3 years.

At that point, a top-of-the-line new Range Rover would be roughly the same cost. Then again, Congleton’s and ECD’s suspensions probably won’t break as often.

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