Project Freedom Is a Custom 1985 Land Rover Defender 90 With LT4 Power Under the Hood

If your overlanding trips could use a pinch of good old patriotism, a Florida-based tuner named E.C.D. might be able to help.

Brothers Tom and Elliot Humble grew up in the central English region of the Midlands, just 40 miles away from the Solihull plant where Land Rover’s rugged Defenders were being assembled. Of course, life around the British countryside often meant coming face to face with such machines, so it was only a matter of time before the lads went on to develop a strong affinity for the Defender nameplate.

Tom would eventually get married and move to the United States with his wife Emily, followed by Sir Elliot a bit later on. Come 2013, they joined forces and co-founded E.C.D. Automotive Design in the bustling city of Kissimmee, Florida. Just in case you’re wondering, that acronym stands for East Coast Defender, which leaves no room for any doubt concerning these folks’ specialty.

Not only does E.C.D. take care of importing classic Defenders to the land of the free, but they also tailor each vehicle to the respective client’s individual preference. At first, many aspects of the customization process had to be outsourced, and the crew worked 18-hour days in order to meet their deadlines without cutting any corners.

Slowly but surely, the firm grew in numbers as the years went by, welcoming dozens of new employees and someone whose financial support would finally help them take off. That person goes by the name of Scott Wallace, and his arrival on the scene gave E.C.D. the funding they needed to begin handling everything in-house. Now then, let’s fast-forward to the present day, shall we?

The company is headquartered in a massive 30,000-square-foot (2,800 sqm) facility, where more than 50 bright minds make a living doing what they love. For us to truly grasp the level at which these guys and girls operate, we’ll go right ahead and inspect one of their more recent undertakings.

Enter the aptly-nicknamed Project Freedom – a brutish off-roading juggernaut that had once been an ordinary 1985 Defender 90. Starting with what occupies the engine bay, we find a 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 sourced from General Motors. This fearsome V8 can put down a whopping 650 ponies when solicited, and power travels to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Speaking of footwear, those satin-black, alloy 18-inchers were supplied by the specialists over at Project Kahn, while a set of all-terrain BF Goodrich tires provide ample grip on and off the asphalt. Braking is achieved through premium Brembo hardware at both axles, with E.C.D’s proprietary suspension upgrades making for a smooth ride.

As regards the bodywork-related mods adorning Project Freedom, the squad installed a beefy widebody kit with riveted panels and a four-point roll cage to ensure future occupants’ safety. A custom-made soft top keeps the elements at bay, but the goodies that’ll really catch your attention can be seen up front.

There you’ll notice an imposing bull bar and a bespoke steering guard manufactured from scratch, as well as a Warn winch to help this Defender get out of any sticky situations it may encounter. At the rear end, things are concluded with dual exhaust tips, a spare Kahn hoop, and (interestingly enough) two flag mounts. The latter may not be ideal for departure angle, but it is a pretty cool touch nonetheless – because ‘Murica!

Last but not least, we arrive at the car’s interior, where E.C.D. fitted heated and ventilated Corbeau front seats, a high-grade Prototipo steering wheel from Momo, and a new dash cloaked in leather. Aftermarket gauges inhabit the instrument cluster, accompanied by a premium infotainment system with Apple CarPlay compatibility in the center.

A quartet of foldable, inward-facing seats can be found out back, though plentiful legroom doesn’t appear to have been a priority here. Although we’re not sure how much the customer was charged for Project Freedom, what we can tell you is that builds from this tuner are typically priced at around $200k. Well, E.C.D. refers to this menacing Defender as a sleeper, but we reckon it’s just about as subtle as a frigging tank.

Article Credits: Silvian Secara
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