Michael Kraabel
Founder, Bishop+Rook

Passionate about film, photography, travel, adventures, and vintage cars. I finally found a way to combine my life’s passion into helping others find their dream car.

A Message From Our Founder

Following Passions

Having worked in advertising as a creative director, director, photographer, and writer for most of my professional life, I always felt something was missing. Over the last few years of my career in that industry, I had been searching for a way to focus my hobbies and interests outside the office – the professional passions that fed my soul. Bishop+Rook was created as an outlet to develop projects, ideas, and products related to my passion for travel, film, and automobiles.

Having purchased my first Land Rover Defender 90 in the spring of 2014, I fell in love with how she drove and the conversations I had at car shows, gas stations, parking lots, and anywhere I drove her.

People have a unique reaction when they see a vintage Land Rover Defender.  It inspires a sense of adventure and wanderlust not found in any other vehicle. Wanting to capture this feeling on film, I started researching the sub-culture of Defender owners around the world — specifically the greenlaning culture in England.

My ultimate goal was to film a documentary series about the Defender culture and the planet’s last “Go Anywhere” vehicle. This series, called “Adventure Tested,” would not only dig deep into the UK Land Rover culture but also follow a series of Americans as they hunt the English countryside for their perfect Land Rover Defender.

This project is still in the works, but a new opportunity was found when we started to put people behind the steering wheel of their own Defenders.

Sharing Our Passion

In the early days, we were looking for ways to get familiar with the Defender culture by traveling around, finding unique stories, and adopting a few trucks along the way. Once we got them back to our home in Minnesota, we started by performing light restoration work on our film project Defenders and then offering them up for adoption for those in the midwest to enjoy at home.

We only ever wanted to restore the vehicles to an adventure-tested stage — not over-restored and not over-priced. We simply wanted to share our love and passion for these amazing vehicles with like-minded people.

We priced our vehicles fairly. Any profit we made was turned back into our creative project. Any work we did was to ensure people could enjoy them right away, ensuring they were adventure-ready on day one.

The Evolution of a Dream

As our personal collection of Defenders grew, so to did the need for space, parts, and tools. We found a temporary space to store our trucks while we worked on them, but soon after we moved into the city decided to begin a 3 (or 10) year road construction project on the main road we used to get to the shop. What was once an 11-minute drive from my home became a daily adventure.

We found a new shop, just 3,500 square feet – more like a hidden bunker – that became our new home, 6 minutes door-to-door from my home.  Each day after work (still in advertising), I would stop by the shop and tinker for hours. One of my good friends, who owned a service shop up the road, would help out from time to time.  Eventually, my shop became his overflow shop for work on Defenders (some mine, some customers who saw my projects sitting outside his shop).

Eventually, we would find our first lead mechanic, and he would join the team – and learn all about the wonderful treasures you find when you work on Defenders.

Since then, we have expanded our shop and purchased a new 10,000-square-foot former GM dealership/service station in a small town in rural Minnesota. We also expanded our footprint in England by acquiring a workshop in Salisbury from a couple of guys who sold me a Defender years ago.  We shared a passion for Defender restoration and decided to go into business together.  We’ve also started our expansion plans in Spain – to assist with our LHD sourcing and shipping projects.

None of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the wonderful family we built along the way – not just those that helped find, refresh, and restore the Defenders, but the customers, clients, and friends who have adopted from us and trusted us to build their dream vehicle.

The Story Continues

What started as a passion project, focused on the love of adventure travel and the pursuit of a perfect overland vehicle, has turned into a life-changing journey for me. By starting Bishop+Rook, I have been exposed to many great people and have made friends worldwide who share a love for the Defender lifestyle. We are all part of a unique and growing community of like-minded folks who enjoy a simpler life – including boxy but rugged vehicles.

While Bishop+Rook was originally created as an outlet to document the Land Rover Defender culture on film, it soon morphed into a way to help others scour the globe in search of unique projects to become their dream vehicle.

We are a small but dedicated team of Land Rover enthusiasts passionate about finding, importing, and restoring these iconic British Defenders to the United States. We hand-select only the best Defenders to match the requirements of our clients. We take the stress and risk out of the import process – allowing our clients to focus on the adventures ahead instead of the pitfalls and potential unforeseen expenses if things go wrong.

We offer various options for people looking to become a caretaker of a vintage Land Rover Defender. From fresh from the British countryside working trucks to bespoke restorations and builds. Every Defender we place up for adoption is ready for adventure on the first day, with a life of everyday exploring in mind.

I am fortunate to have been able to follow my passion – helping guide people through the process -helping people welcome the perfect Defender into their family. We welcome you to the beginning of a great adventure.

Founder, Bishop+Rook

The original D90 that started it all.  Will always be a member of the family.

Second day of driving and I was able to refine my shifting skills on the grounds of the Biltmore hotel.

The urge to turn off on dirt roads increases by a factor of a thousand while driving a Defender.

Bishop+Rook Heritage Defenders