Whether you’re trying to find a Defender already listed for sale on the open market or you’re having a custom build commissioned by the team at Bishop+Rook, there are undoubtedly a lot of questions you have around the timing and process.

There are many different levels of Defenders available for sale – from barely safe for human travel to completely custom builds, down to every nut and bolt. As the spectrum of Defenders on the market is so vast, we found it helpful to organize them into a simple tiering systems to help prospects better understand what they should expect for their budget and timeline.This tiered pricing and build approach structure should hold true to the rest of the market, although the prices may vary depending on the builder.

We’ve published a more specific guide on this subject under the title, “The Difference Between a $25,000 Defender and a $250,000 Defender.

For us, the timing issue comes down to several simple factors:

  1. What type of Land Rover Defender might you be looking for.  Is it a rare configuration? Are you looking for something that is ready for the farm, or ready for action as a daily driver?  Are there specific colors you’re looking for?  Do you require custom fabrication?
  2. Were we source the base donor vehicle from. Is it already in our reserve collection? Do we have the Defender in our UK shop or our US shop?  Is it waiting to turn 25 and become eligible for import? Is there a worldwide travel ban keeping us from picking it up from the border (alas, a very real issue).
  3. What level of preservation or restoration you’re planning on.  For a simple Tier I mechanical refresh the process could be very quick?  Ensuring a rust and corrosion free chassis and body could take a day, or it could take months. Does you’re build require a complete body-off restoration?  Are there elements such as motors, seats, or accessories that have long-lead times from outside vendors?
  4. Have you watched a lot of reality TV builds.  When you watch a custom vehicle being built on one of the many reality shows, you’re only seeing the edited version.  While Gas Monkey garage appears to build a car in a week, even their fastest builds take 23 days, with a massive crew and all parts and resources withing immediate arms reach. Richard Rollins admits that a good quality build or restoraton should take a year.

How long does it take to source a quality Land Rover Defender for import?

We look at over 100 Defenders before we find a single one that might be a good candidate for import or restoration.  Several factors go into our process that take time, such as checking for import eligibility, physically inspecting the vehicle, running a history report, and negotiating with the current owners.  The supply of quality Defenders is very (very) low.  Where there may appear to be a lot of deals to be found – many of them are either financial or financial nightmares.

We have sourcing teams in every major Land Rover market, searching each day for quality vehicles. Very few of the Defenders worth importing end up hitting places like eBay or the trade websites – those are typically the ones that haven’t sold in the private marketplace where the true Land Rover enthusiasts tend to trade and deal.

To more specifically answer this question about timing, we would conservatively estimate that it takes 30-60 days for us to find, review, and acquire a good donor vehicle, if it’s not already in our pipeline.  Fortunately, we usually have a fairly sizable list of Defenders that are coming into the collection – helping to close the sourcing timeline fairly quickly.

How long does a mechanical refresh take on a Land Rover Defender? 

When we bring a Defender into the workshop for a Tier I mechanical refresh, we generally plan between 40-80 hours for a standard service.  Nearly every Defender that bears the Bishop+Rook badge will receive the following:

Front + Rear Axle Refresh
New Bearings
New Seals
New Rotors
New Calipers
New Brake Pads
New HD Hub Nuts
New Flexible Brake Lines
Complete System Flush/Bleed
New Brake Booster

Cooling System Refresh
New Radiator
New Intercooler
New Water Pump
New Gaskets
New Thermostat
New Temp Sensor
Complete System Flush

Clutch Check
New Master Cylinder
New Slave Cylinder
System Flush/Bleed

Power and Electrical
New Alternator
New Starter
Wiring Check/Refresh
New Headlights
New Marker Lights
Dash Gauge Check/Refresh

New Fuel Lifter Pump
Boost Pin
Injector Pump Check/Refresh
New Fuel Filter
Injector Clean/Refresh
Injector Seals
Fuel Level Sender Check/Refresh
Fuel Tank Check/Refresh

General Engine + Mechanical
Shocks/Springs Check/Refresh
Intake Gasket Replacement
Turbo Check/Refresh
Hoses Check/Refresh
Tyres Check/Refresh
Wiper Motor Check/Refresh
Dash Switches + Controls Check/Refresh
Bushings Check/Refresh
Chassis Check/Refresh
Bulkhead Check/Refresh

Seals + Gaskets
New Front Windscreen Seal
New Outer Window Seal
New Inner Window Seal
New Outer Door Seal
New Bottom Door Seals
Alpine Window Seal Check/Refresh
New Rear Door Seal

General Items
Seat Belt Check/Refresh
Door Hinge Check/Refresh
Windows Check/Refresh
Hood Latch Check/Refresh

And More.  Like, a lot more.

From Dreaming to Building

For most of us, the idea of owning a Defender started years ago, maybe even decades. When you start your search in earnest, the clock starts ticking.  But one of the things you might not realize is that even though your search has taken months or years to get to the point of signing a contract, the time to go from that signature to build will seem like forever. The best way to shorten this period of time is to simply start sooner, or shorten the time between deciding and actually buying.

How long does it take to build a Land Rover Defender?

The real build begins when a contract is in place and we’re given the go ahead to do what we do best – build Defenders.  How long the process takes will depend entirely on the specifications of the build. Here are a couple example timelines:

Tier I Refresh – Donor Identified
1-3 Months Depending on the location of the vehicle

Tier II Restoration/Preservation – Donor Not Identified
5-6 Months to identify a donor, conduct the build exercise, order parts, ship the vehicle, complete the work.

Tier III Bespoke Build – Donor Rarely Identified
6-9 Months depending on unique specifications and potential issues with complicated parts orders.  Great builds take time.