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Retro

Want a classic Defender with a Camaro ZL1’s heart? Look no further

It’s offered by Blackbridge Motors, and will set you back a cool £212,000

Published: 20 Mar 2024

The trend these days is to electrify vintage Landies, but what if you wanted to buck the status quo and retain the retro looks… with 659 combustible horses? Well, Blackbridge Motors - specialists in restoring and customising classic Land Rovers - will offer you just that in exchange for £212,000.

The sizeable grunt has come thanks to a GM-sourced 6.2-litre ‘LT4’ V8 - otherwise seen powering the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 or the C7-generation Corvette - and channelled through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Blackbridge has even thrown on some custom-built driveshafts.

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The mechanical goodies don’t stop there, either, with other changes including new heavy-duty axle shafts, a braking system from Wilwood Master and Fox shock absorbers. The result? This old-but-new-but-old MK 2 should make light work of just about any environment it faces, including the perilous Coventry ring road.

Despite the updates, you’d need to be a pretty avid Land Rover fanatic to spot any exterior changes, since the only prominent one is a stainless steel exhaust. That means the throwback grille and wonderfully wacky 16in ‘Wolf’ steelies remain, with the correct limestone paint thrown over the latter.

This approach continues into the cabin, where the leather-clad upholstery, trim finishes, switchgear and dials have been given a slight refresh, but are still visibly true to their spartan nature. Blackbridge has even left the traditional five-metre-long gear stick in place, albeit with new readouts to signal the car’s transmission overhaul.

One interesting (and nicely hidden) change is the new audio system from Sony. It’s been merged with the rest of the retro look to make sure you can continue to enjoy Sean Paul in all his glory - even when you’re hanging halfway up a mountain.

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Scott Gilbert, brand CEO, said: “Blackbridge Motors started with the simple question of how we could transform vintage Defender ownership from something filled with compromises into a contemporary, fun driving experience that still maintains all its original charms in terms of iconic design.

“Our goal is for our clients to completely forget that they are driving a vintage truck and simply enjoy everything about their classic Defender with none of the more annoying, even aggravating aspects of vintage vehicle ownership.”

Let’s just hope the comical reliability record of these old Defenders hasn't been retained…

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