We don’t sell used Defenders. We build Defenders. Explaining the difference between building a custom Defender and buying one that’s already complete is a struggle for us sometimes.
We get a lot of people that email us, or stop into the workshop asking the question: “Are these for sale?” The answer is always a little bit of a grey area and we don’t always have a clear answer. The answer is always, “yes, sorta, maybe.” This is because we’re a custom Builder, not a used car lot. There’s a big difference.
A Custom Defender is Like Building a Custom House
The best way to describe the Defender build process is to compare it to building a house. In the case of a custom home builder, they tend to own the land, have developed the communities, have various plans to pick from, and offer quite a bit of customization for the customers. You won’t be able to walk into their office and say, “What do you have for sale and how much?” Unless, of course, you’re looking at the model home.
We are very similar when it comes to Defenders. Where the home builders have found the property, we have found and sourced donor vehicles looking for restoration. Where they offer architects and contractors, we offer mechanics, paint/body, and overall design consultation. And just like a custom home, the size, price, and location can vary greatly.
Ordering a New Defender vs. Buying One Off The Lot
We have three different workshops in the US and UK – 2 in Minnesota and 1 in Salisbury, England. At each location there are generally a lot of Defenders lined up outside (often in various states repair or dis-repair). When curious passerby’s stop in, it kind of looks like a car lot, with Defenders for sale. We get a lot of questions like: “Which ones of these are for sale?” and “How much is this one?”
The answer is generally, “Most of these are donor Defenders waiting for their spot in the preservation/restoration queue, but we could build one similar for you.”
This often gets us a peculiar look from some folks – sometimes even confusion or maybe frustration. It used to be commonplace to walk into a dealership, look at the showroom car, order your vehicle ahead of time to your specification, and the factory would simply build it and have it shipped out. This is much less common these days, probably partially due to American impatience and need for immediate gratification.
We’ve taken on a similar model, with the exception of us being the dealership and builder at the same time. While we do have some Defenders ready for sale, most of the vehicles we offer are made-to-order – which is a good thing.
Buying a Custom Defender vs. Someone Else’s Build
We used to offer a lot more pre-built Defenders, but scaled back that operation for several reasons. The first was that we were always guessing on what people might like. We built them to how we would want a Defender to look and perform – at a budget we thought was pretty reasonable. This worked out pretty well, except when we would put them online for sale, we would get several interested buyers at the same time and we felt terrible breaking people’s hearts when they were second in line.
The second reason why we started building more custom Defenders rather than having them pre-built is that we found we could offer a completely custom/bespoke Defender for the same price as if we had already built it for ourselves (or someone else had built it and put it online for sale). Who doesn’t want a custom Land Rover Defender for the same price as just one found on Bring a Trailer, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace?
When you build your own custom Defender you’re only paying for what’s important to you. If you have a brood of messy and muddy dogs you take hunting in your Defender, it’s probably not a good idea to have custom diamond stitched leather seats. The same holds true for if you want your Defender to be a daily driver in a hot climate – sound deadening and air conditioning suddenly become more important.
Do you want a particular color? It makes no difference to us if you select blue or green, the paint process is the same and costs the same. Having you pick the color saves us the anxiety of selecting for you. Looking for a specific grill, wheel package, seat configuration? It costs twice as much to reverse out someone else’s design/build decisions as it would be if you just make those selections at the beginning of the process.
That’s why we like building custom Defenders vs. building them and putting them up for sale. When you’re in charge of the selection process, you get exactly what you’re looking for.
Starting The Process
We try to make it very simple to begin the process of building a custom Land Rover Defender. We take care of all the hard stuff so you don’t have to: sourcing, parts, paint, body, upholstery, shipping logistics, import duties, title documentation, and … of course … the actual build and restoration process.
At the beginning of the process we sit down with you for a consultation – either on the phone or in person. We go through all your options, discussing things like usage, build levels, budget, colors, accessories, style, and timeline. We take all that information and we put it into a build sheet that guides the sourcing and restoration process. Once we agree on the overall direction, we draw up the contract, you place a deposit, and the process begins.
The sooner you begin, the sooner you can be enjoying your Defender. A simple sourcing project might take 3 – 4 months, while a complete custom build could be up to 10-16 months.
Want to Build a Custom Land Rover Defender?
You’re under no obligation when you reach out to us. We’re not sales folks, we’re builders. We have a wealth of knowledge and are very patient as people begin the process. Let us know if you’re interested and we can set up some time to talk.