The Land Rover Defender is an iconic symbol of off-road motoring. When people in far flung reaches of the globe are first exposed to cars, that car is usually a Land Rover. Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever owned or ridden in a Defender knows, it seems to have been built by hunter gatherers using rocks and sticks. Fortunately, if you want a bit more of a refined experience, Icon 4×4 is here to help.
And this, Icon 4X4’s rebuild of a Defender D90, is perfect, because it makes the truck livable without taking away from its rugged simplistic vibe. But, as Icon’s video shows, doing that took a lot of work … and imagination.
To make the Defender livable, Icon stripped the truck to its frame rails and got rid of just about everything. At the heart of the rebuild is a shiny new 430-horsepower GM LS3 V8, a spiritual successor to the ancient, Buick-sourced 4.0-liter V8 that came from the factory.
What’s the result of putting 430 horsepower to the pavement in a Defender? As Icon puts it, the Rover is now “stupid fast.” Other minor changes include all of the suspension, the HVAC (which now works), and all of the interior trim.
All of that work is made more difficult by, as Icon’s founder points out, Land Rover’s inability to build vehicles that are very “square”, meaning symmetrical. I guess when you are the daddy of off-road exploration, the eye test is good enough.
The biggest visible improvement from the Defender’s original “good enough” construction is on the interior. Icon put in a completely custom fabricated and welded dash, along with custom door and body panels – all made from stainless steel. The affect is beautiful, but rugged. Looking at the interior, you don’t think that this is an off-road Escalade, but rather the ideal compromise between aesthetics and function.
The same is true on the outside. The body shell remains almost entirely stock, but the finish is improved and some nice details, like the milled aluminum door hinges, LED lights and custom bumpers, have been added.
The end result is a Defender that is just as well suited to being driven to work as it is to exploring a remote river delta. Just don’t ask how much this transformation costs.