Custom Land Rover Defender Build Process

A complete refresh and restoration service for vintage Land Rover Defenders.

Building Your Defender

We offer a complete refresh and restoration option for those who want us to help them source and build their ideal Defender. We offer everything from minor upgrades and enhancements to complete nut-and-bolt rebuilds.  Our Custom Built Land Rover Defender service is focused on investment-grade restorations for those who want to drive and enjoy their vehicle for many years to come.

Heritage and Bespoke Series Defenders

We preserve the character of each Defender without the facsimile design other builders often follow. We approach Land Rover Defender Restoration with a preservation philosophy –  “preserve what we can, restore what’s needed, refresh the rest for peace of mind. This ethos allows us to offer the same world-class quality without the astronomical prices typically associated with bespoke Defender builds. Our goal is to provide safe, reliable, and quality Defenders for those who enjoy the timelessness of the original design with their unique personal touch.

A Lifetime of Support and Service

When you build your custom Land Rover Defender with Bishop+Rook, you become part of our family.  We will help you learn the nuances of your new vehicle, including how to perform basic maintenance and road-side service yourself.  We will always be here to support your Defender in the future, from helping your local mechanic service the vehicle, to parts and future upgrades.  We aren’t simply interested in selling you a Defender, we want to help you get the most out of your investment through the many years that will follow.

Inspiration: Previous Builds

We have a long history of building unique and custom Defender for clients all over the world.  Each of our previous builds developed a personality and style of its own, but can ultimately provide inspiration and guidance for your custom build.

Process: How It Works

We provide a full-service concierge build approach. We handle everything from the sourcing of a donor Defender all the way through final delivery – providing a transparent view into the restoration and build process the entire way.  It takes between 600 and 1800 hours to complete a full restoration over a period of 7-16 months.  A proper Defender takes time to restore and build.  Patience is rewarded with a lifetime of smiles and adventures.


We are a team of Defender enthusiasts dedicated to preserving and building vintage Land Rover Defenders. We have four different restoration centers in Minnesota, England, and Spain – where we collaboratively source, refresh, restore, and build some of the most timeless vehicles on the planet. With years of experience building high-end Defenders, we have developed a process that ensures quality and transparency throughout the build.  We are focused on building some of the best Defenders on the planet.


Dreaming + Planning

We conduct a series of phone and video calls to work through the details of a potential build – from the base model to paint and interior finishings. We create a detailed Build Sheet that serves as the foundation for the project, which includes pricing, timeline, and contract terms.  Both parties sign-off on the document and a deposit of 60% is made at this stage of the process.


The Donor Defender

We generally keep a steady supply of US-import compliant Defenders in stock, but sometimes we may need to source something more specific. During this part of the build process, the donor Defender is identified, checked for history, and paperwork confirmed before any work is done.  We conduct an extensive pre-build assessment to ensure the donor will be a good candidate for the project.



Our Heritage and Bespoke Land Rover Defender builds go through a complete disassembly process.  We spend the better part of two days completely dismantling the donor defender and cataloging each and every part, bracket, and bolt that comes off the vehicle. This part of the process helps us confirm our pre-assessment conclusions and gives us the foundation for which parts will need to be ordered, which items can be refurbished, and any hidden issues we may find along the way.


Chassis Refurbishment

While some climates are better than others when it comes to Land Rover Defender chassis, we take nothing for granted and go through each one to ensure they are factory or better condition. Most times we send the chassis out for media blasting and stripping, so we can uncover any hidden issues before we take it through final chassis sealing (inside and out) and finishing.  Some chassis will require metal fabrication and replacement of components to make them better than new.  This is all taken care of before any part of the build continues.  Sometimes, we may galvanize a factory chassis for extra protection, or replace one if the damage is too extensive.


Mechanical Restoration

Our custom Land Rover Defender projects all go through an extensive mechanical refurbishment and restoration process.  Every working component is checked, refreshed, restored, or replaced.  Motors are rebuilt, gearboxes rebuilt, axles rebuilt, and all moving parts are refurbished or replaced with new.  The goal of this stage is to return the Defender to better than factory mechanical condition – providing years of low-maintenance reliability and enjoyment.


Paint + Body Restoration

Regardless of the original condition of the donor vehicle,we completely disassemble every single body panel, bracket, fastener, and component and hand restore each piece.  While some panels are replaced, we try our best to restore as much of the original Land Rover Defender as possible.  Not only are the factory parts generally better than replacements, but those parts also represent the history and legacy of the original vehicle.  Each restoration project takes between 300-600 hours in paint and bodywork alone.


The Running + Rolling Chassis

While the bodywork is being completed in our paint shop, the rest of the team begins the process of re-assembly.  The newly refurbished chassis is reunited with the axles, steering components, fuel tank, brake lines, fuel lines, wiring harness, bulkhead, and power train.  We believe it is critical to complete this formal stage before any bodywork is assembled.  This approach allows us easy access to make adjustments, tweaks, and repairs on the underlying framework before freshly painted bodywork gets in the way.  The vehicle is running and driving under its own power at this stage – albeit in a slightly skeletal form.


Interior Trimming

Having been sent off to our trimming department early in the process, the final interior pieces come back from refurbishment.  This includes the seats, dash components, steering wheels, cubby boxes, any any custom fabrication outlined in the build sheet.  We set some of these components aside to keep them preserved from dirty hands and dusty workshops.



Once the rolling chassis has been tested and passed through our extensive mechanical testing process, we can start to re-assemble the body panels.We start with the framework of the tub, seat box, front wings and move on to the final side panels, roof, front grill, and bumper.  Each panel is replaced with new or refurbished brackets, including new and updated fasteners. Glass specialist are responsible for installing the front windscreen side windows, door glass, alpine windows, and any other glazing requirements.


Sound Abatement + Interior Trim

As the body panels come together, we can now start with adding any necessary sound deadening material – either spray in, glue in, stick in, or rubber overlay. Having the complete vehicle together allows us to easily see where there may be panels that could cause noise or create vibration. The final dash is fitted, including side panels, headliner, and any door trimming.


Road Testing

There may be a few items yet to be installed at this stage, but we generally like to take the vehicle out for a nice road test at this stage.  This is to check to make sure all the mechanical components are in proper working order, but that the vehicle is free of any rattles, bangs, or other noises.  Adjustments are generally required at this stage, as new seals settle into place and brackets and fasteners require re-tightening.


Final Quality Control Testing

With a large number of team members responsible for their unique part of the restoration, we think it’s still important and appropriate to check each other’s work. The fully assembled Defender goes through an extensive checking process, where every nut and bolt is checked for proper torque, panels checked for fitting, and the entire vehicle scrutinized before it is released for the final-final road test.


Final Road Test

Once the vehicle passes our internal QA process, we take it out for a series of 50 mile tests:  50  miles of low-speed testing. Check/Tweak. 50 miles of high-speed testing. Check/Tweak. And we repeat this process until the vehicle passes a 50 mile test without any further adjustments needed.  The last 50 miles or so is primarily for our own enjoyment.


Paperwork + Delivery

Depending on which workshop we build the Defender, we may need to ship it on a boat, or somehow transport it to the final destination.  In the case of a project built in our European facilities, we would conduct another round of post-shipping QA testing before finally submitting for final customs approval and vehicle title. Once everything has been completed, we deliver the vehicle to their new family – either having them pick it up in person, us arranging delivery, or even sometimes being lucky enough to deliver it ourselves directly.

Begin Your Adventure

Whether you’re beginning your search or you’re already figured out your journey, we would love to hear from you.

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Bishop+Rook Heritage Defenders