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East Coast Defender builds a Defender 130 Huntress

Kamil Kaluski May 3, 2017 All Things Hoon 2 Comments

Our love for Land Rover Defenders is real and not easily justifiable. While we have covered them extensively over the years, we never quite admitted that the interior lousy, the ride is harsh, and the power is lacking. While I spent several weeks in Africa with the Defender, the vehicle there was in its element. I imagine that I would not be as in love with it if I had to drive one daily to my job at the Gretchel and Dawson Accounting Firm in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

East Coast Defender seems to be what Icon4x4 is to Land Cruisers or Singer is to Porsches. They take older Land Rover Defenders and completely overhaul them. The interior receives a complete overhaul and is modernized. Every suspension nut and bolt is new and a quality lift-kit is optional. Finally, under the hood goes an re-engineered Rover V8 or one of two new Chevy small blocks. 

The Defender 130 pickup pictured here is called the Huntress and it is one of their latest builds. 

The Defender market is red hot right now – everyone wants one. Because of that, anyone who can imports, or did import, Defenders into United States. You may recall a fiasco sometime ago when the Feds confiscated many of them. The issue was that people would buy old Defenders, have them completely overhauled overseas, or worse yet, just swapped old VINs on newer trucks, and import them to the United States as old cars, which they clearly were not. 

East Coast Defender also imports their donor vehicles, they have to, but the complete overhaul takes place in Florida after the vehicles are federalized and titled. In the end, all vehicles are perfectly legal in the United States, as is any other retro-modded classic. That is the case with this 130, as 130s were never sold in United States. East Coast Defenders will build NAS (North American Specification) trucks if a client requests one.

East Coast Defender constructs and sells about fifty vehicles per year. They are all custom builds, done to the owner’s specification. Turn-around time is about twelve months. That’s probably a very long twelve months for those fortunate enough to be able to procure one. Prices obviously vary based on vehicle model and selected options but generally range from $165,000 to upwards of $300,000. GM offers a 2-year/50,000 mile warranty on its drivetrains so you can take your Defender into any Chevy dealer and they’ll work on your vehicle. ECD says that they will take care of their clients in the unlikely event something were to happen.

In addition to the three available wheelbases, 90, 110, and 130, three engines, manual or automatic transmissions, customers get many other choices. The obvious is the interior and exterior color choices. In addition to being competently rebuilt, all East Coast Defenders are left hand drive, have air conditioning, electric windows, LED lighting, and much improved interiors. 

Because all vehicles are made to client’s specs, there are different wheels, tires, and suspension systems available. ECD will even install the controversial, by purist opinion, Kahn wide body kit. Other options include off-road goodies such as an ARB bumper, winch, lights, ARB locking differentials, ladders, roll cages, (half cage is installed on the pictured 130), skid plates, larger fuel tanks, and racks. Interior upgrade and audio packages, and even window tinting, are also available. 

ECD says that the Huntress was commissioned by a renowned artist who is known for her fearless multi-sensory installations. “The Huntress was designed from the top down to be a rolling tribute of that very mantra, a fearless vision for a stunning Defender”. Perhaps this is why I question the seating and steering wheel choices. But hey, I am not a renown artist, so what do I know. ECD will work with you, and me when I win the lottery that I don’t play, to create the interior you desire, even if it is Corbeau seats that are finished in chocolate brown alligator hide.

What I can agree on is the 6.2-liter, 430-hp Chevrolet LS3 V8 engine that is under the hood. It moves the big 130 from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, which is about three times faster than that little diesel that used to occupy that space, and that’s no exaggeration. That power is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. To aide the negative acceleration, ECD installed Wilwood brakes with 6-piston front calipers and 4-piston rear calipers, with vented and drilled rotors all around.

Other options on the Huntress include a 2” lift kit, Kenwood infotainment system with GPS, backup camera, wifi, and Apple CarPlay with a custom Morel amplified speaker system, Boost 18” wheels with BFGoodrich KO2 tires, tubular winch bumper with WARN winch, custom-built swing away spare tire carrier, and Safety Devices front roll cage. That seems like a very nice list of features for a Defender that is destined to perform daily tasks on the artist’s Wyoming ranch. 

  • caltemus

    Are they importing UK dashboards? Manufacturing themselves? I’m really curious how they sourced them

  • outback_ute

    I wonder why it doesn’t have rear wheel arch flares to match the front? Not bad looking otherwise, but it would want to be for the price, and far too plush for something that will presumably get muddy etc.