The world of aftermarket tuning has never failed to amaze us. Tuners have been building cars that range from being capable of running 7-seconds in street-trim, to perfect classic restorations as reliable as your new Camry. While we all love the rumble, fire-spitting, E85 smell of tuned internal combustion engines, we can’t deny that the last decade has seen an impressive rise in electric engines, both from the OEM and aftermarket sides.
An Innovator like Bisi Ezerioha of Bisimoto made his name off of building and racing Hondas. Now he’s putting all his expertise into mind-blowing electric vehicles. The revolution is diverse, however, and while Bisi comes from a car-tuning background, companies such as E.C.D. Automotive Design is approaching their business from an enthusiast perspective.
E.C.D went from having a passion for classic Land Rovers, to building a Tesla-powered Defender with no bolt left unturned. Best of all, customers can now build their very own, fully-custom Land Rover Defender through E.C.D. Automotive Design. We talked to E.C.D.’s Co-Founder, Elliot Humble, to find out how this works and the level of quality and parts on these vehicles.
How E.C.D. Automotive Design Started
Elliot and Tom Humble, brothers from England 40-miles away from the Lode Lane Factory that produced the Land Rover Defender, founded E.C.D Automotive Design. The brothers met Scott Wallace, another automotive enthusiast that would soon become the third partner in the company.
“We founded E.C.D. as car-enthusiasts first,” said Elliot Humble, E.C.D. Automotive Design Co-Founder. “My brother, Tom, and a friend named Scott Wallace were both in Florida for other reasons, and one night over a pack of beer they daydreamed up E.C.D. The next day, Tom quit his job and started building out E.C.D.’s business plan. I left school to join them on this venture.”
In 2013, the three musketeers opened their very first workshop/showroom, working 18-hour days, tearing down Land Rovers, and rebuilding them to their few clients’ wishes. At some point, E.C.D. realized that outsourcing some of the work locally wasn’t ideal, and they had to make a decision. After a small talk, they determined that E.C.D. will have to go all out with a mission to build the highest-quality custom-builds - all in-house.
“The main thing was finding and working with the correct partners to evolve the electric integration to our classic cars. We found that in Electric Classic Cars (ECC).”
The decision led to a complete expansion, with a 30,000 square-foot facility. The facility allows them to do everything in-house, from paint and bodywork, to the final touches and delivery of the projects. This finally gave E.C.D. Automotive Design what they were looking for: complete control. In 2017, the company announced their newest addition, the new Malibu Design Studio in California. This expansion inspired Elliot to look back in remembrance of how it all started.
“Before E.C.D., I was a student over in England. I didn’t have any previous experience working on trucks like we do now, but I knew I loved them,” said Elliot. “Nowadays, I’m our operations manager, where I do everything from increasing our productivity on-site at the Rover Dome to figuring out how we’re going to make our clients’ wildest dreams come to life.” With the clients’ wildest dreams reaching very high, the evolution of these builds went from custom restorations with LS1 engines, to going full electric with Project Britton.
The Land Rover Defender's Enthusiast Attraction
Before Land Rover turned into a luxury icon that every celebrity has to have, it was known to be an agriculture four-wheel drive SUV. Land Rover first came on the scene in 1948. With inspiration from the Jeep Willys, the Series I came with a steel frame under an aluminum body. The Land Rover continued building its reputation, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the name “Defender” was born. The Defender stayed on the scene until 2016 when it ceased production, making it a legendary milestone in Land Rover’s history.
Today, enthusiasts from around the world seek this platform for complete restorations. With E.C.D. being the largest and leading authority in custom restorations of these Defenders and classic Land Rovers, they had to push the envelope. Enter Project Britton, the Tesla-powered electric Defender 110. Better yet, customers can now customize and build their very own electric Defenders.
“No, we did not have any formal connection with Land Rovers. My brother, Tom Humble and I grew up near the Jaguar Land Rover plant and have always loved Land Rovers, though,” said Elliot.
E.C.D.'s Tesla-Powered Land Rover Defender
E.C.D. had to restore Project Britton from the ground up. Everything from upholstery to miles of wiring had to be gone through in order to produce this electric Defender. The Tesla-motor allows the Defender to deliver 450 horsepower, which bolts the vintage SUV to 60 mph from a stop in just five seconds courtesy of the 100-kWh battery pack. In addition to the impressive torque, the Tesla-powered Land Rover Defender has over 220 miles of range on tap, with five hours of charge needed to get there.
“At the end of the day, we’re doing this with deep love of older Defenders and a passion to keep them on the road by modifying them to fit into our client’s lives,” E.C.D. Co-Founder Elliot Humble said. “Whether it takes figuring out how to engineer an electric engine into a restored Defender or color-matching the paint to match a favorite shirt, our world-class team can breathe life to our clients’ wildest dreams.”
Project Britton Build Specs
E.C.D. Automotive Design were able to take a 107-horsepower gas guzzler, and turn it into a masterpiece that delivers well over four-times its original power, all with an electric motor. With the tremendous increase in power, the original parts are no longer able to withstand the abuse.
The first parts to go when you send instant torque to the wheels are the axles. The company's standard procedure is to test each project for 750-miles. This allowed them to find the right upgrades for the axles. The whole car features E.C.D.’s Air Ride suspension, and equipped with high-performance Brembo brakes.
To maintain its off-roading capabilities, a set of BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A tires sit on all four-corners, wrapped around 18-inch Hawke Osprey Design silver wheels. This not only gives the Defender an aggressive look, it also gives it the capabilities to go with it.
The Defender's Interior And Exterior Upgrades
Enhancing the looks of the Defender is no easy feat. After all, its iconic looks stood the test of time. This meant that the taste in design was critical. E.C.D. painted the exterior in Cool Khaki Grey with an Alpine White roof, along with some silver accents to go with the wheels. The team also paid special attention to bold accents around the shell, like the heritage-style grille, swing-away wheel carrier, sidesteps with the SVX silver inserts, and the front-runner roof rack and ladder.
On the inside, the Recaro Expert S seats wrapped in sand beige Porsche Nappa leather provide comfort and support to the driver and passenger. Aside from their great looks, the Recaro seats are both heated and ventilated. While the gauges are all electric, the steering wheel bridges the gap back to classic with its Evander Wood finish. The wood finish continues, this time in a teak wood finish, on the flooring of the rear cargo, with a matching teak wood storage bench that not only gives it an incredible look, but also offers plenty of storage.
Technology is far ahead of its original age, with an Alpine Floating Halo infotainment system. The system comes with Bluetooth capabilities and WiFi, as well as three charging pads for your phone. Project Britton also features remote start, blind spot monitor, backup sensors, as well as front and rear cameras. Since E.C.D. isn’t new to electric conversions, they were able to go through all the hoops to make this build 50-state legal – a complete game-changer that justifies its high-cost.
The Process Each Land Rover Build Goes Through
With projects like this giving customers complete freedom over their build, the team at E.C.D. has to ensure quality is top-notch throughout the challenges that arise. “Each build is a one-of-one vehicle,” said Elliot. “Each client goes through our detailed design process and is able to choose everything, from the type of stitching to the exterior trim color. When they bring the car onto the line, it follows our streamlined process. The build goes through 20 stations, spending 5 days at each station.”
In spite of the 20 stations taking 100 days to build, the company has been producing 60 cars per year and in the process of scaling up to 100 cars per year. “From start to finish, the build receives 2,200 hours of labor, and it takes customers 14 months to receive their vehicle,” said Elliot.
E.C.D. Electric Defender Cost
The question is, how much would it cost you to build an electric Defender with E.C.D.? Since each build is completely different from the one before, it’s nearly impossible to put a precise price-tag on your dream build. However, the company estimates that your very own Land Rover Defender will be in the range of $200,000 to $300,000.
The number seems extremely high, but when you look at the specs of the vehicle, the amount of engineering that goes into it, the level of customization you have, and the quality of the end-product; it all makes sense. Given that many new SUVs are knocking on the mid-$100,000 door, it’s clearly much cooler to pay the extra money and daily-drive a vintage Defender.
“We restore Land Rovers because we love them. Our passion for these British cars is what got us here in the first place. As long as people love the trucks as much as we do, we’ll continue restoring them. Soon, we plan to branch out from old Land Rover Defenders and Range Rovers to take on electric conversions for classic Jaguars,” Elliot passionately explains.
Just when you think E.C.D. has reached a level where they aren’t looking for improvement, Elliot tells us: “There is always room for improvements and our three quality control departments add those amends as the truck moves through our industry leading digital QC process.” We are excited to start seeing these vintage Land Rovers on the streets and seeing the evolution of the company and how far Tom, Elliot, and Scott can take it.
“Our success comes from being outsiders in the industry. We live by our motto, 'To evolve not to exist,' and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the business. Since none of us had worked in the automotive industry in this capacity, we’re able to see things from a different perspective and offer innovative services to our clients,” he concluded. Elliot promised that this year will see some more exciting projects that support their motto and philosophy, and HotCars will be right there to cover it.