Skip to main content

Looking for the ultimate off-roader? Get ready to write a big check

The Land Rover Defender started out as a simple, utilitarian vehicle, but a Florida-based outfit called East Coast Defenders has transformed it into something very different. Meet “Project Viper,” a tricked out Defender with a $285,000 price tag.

What makes this Defender worth Lamborghini money? For starters, it has some upgrades under the hood. While the Project Viper name might suggest a V10, this SUV actually has a General Motors-sourced, 6.2-liter LS3 V8, producing 430 horsepower. Power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Along with the engine, virtually every part of this Defender has been customized. It features upgraded Wilwood brakes, a stainless-steel fuel cell, beefed-up KAM axles with electronic locking differentials, King Off-Road Racing shocks, and a 2.0-inch Old Man Emu lift kit. Project Viper rides on 20-inch wheels shod with Nitto Mud Grappler tires.

The modifications on the outside are just as extensive as the ones under the skin. Starting at the front, a tubular bumper houses a Warn winch, in the case the driver encounters any terrain the Defender can’t handle. The vehicle also gets an external roll cage, and LED spot lights and work lights. At the back, the spare tire is mounted on a swing-away carrier, to allow easier access to the cargo area.

The interior takes the Defender far away from its spartan origins. It sports leather seats, wireless phone charging, and a Kenwood head unit that incorporates a touchscreen, navigation, rearview camera feed, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

East Coast Defenders has been building one-off custom Defenders since 2013. Project Viper was commissioned last year by a “renowned doctor,” according to the company, and is being held up as an example of East Coast Defenders’ handiwork. Project Viper is the first vehicle to come out of East Coast Defenders’ “Ultimate Vehicle Concept” division, which will produce 10 custom Defenders per year.

The Defender may be out of production, but enthusiasm for it is still strong. So despite its high price tag, East Coast Defenders probably won’t have any trouble filling its order slots. Because if you’re going to spend almost $300,000 on a car, why not buy one that you won’t have to worry about getting dirty?

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
There’s a huge Black Friday sale on Thule roof cargo boxes
thule rooftop cargo boxes deals amazon november 2023 box on car

It's almost winter, which means snowy day trips and skiing, and if you pack your whole family inside one vehicle, it can be difficult to get the rest of your critical belongings (such as bikes and kayaks) to your destination. In theory, you could buy a larger car. Many families get a minivan for the explicit purpose of relieving this kind of pressure. But that's pretty extreme when you could simply expand the storage space of your current car. And with Black Friday sales like this one, putting dozens of Thule rooftop cargo boxes on big discounts, now is a good time to consider doing so. We're seeing deals were you could save $100 (or even more) or Thule rooftop cargo boxes and accessories. Just tap the button below to access the curated collection, then keep reading for our take in how to shop the sale.

Why you should shop the Thule rooftop cargo box sale
One of the first things we want you to know before you shop the Thule collection is some features that aren't immediately apparent just by looking at the cargo boxes. For example, you may be highly concerned about driving off and having your belongings (including embarrassing items like underwear) go everywhere because the box flies open. Thule boxes, however, typically snap shut with an audible click. You know your items are secure. Alternatively, items like their

Read more
Honda recalls more than 300,000 vehicles over seat belt safety issue
2015 Honda Accord Sport

Honda has recalled more than 300,000 of its 2023-2024 HR-Vs and Accords over a safety issue, according to a document posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The issue concerns a missing seat belt part, which means that in the event of a crash, the belt “will not properly restrain the occupant, increasing the risk of injury,” the NHTSA said.

Read more
How to watch Tesla’s Cybertruck delivery event today
Tesla's Cybertruck.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk behind the wheel of a Cybertruck. Tesla

It’s been a long time coming, but Tesla is about to deliver the Cybertruck to its first customers.

Read more