A Tesla-powered electric Range Rover was the logical next step for E.C.D. Automotive Design, a company that adds go power to classic Range and Land Rover products, concentrating on the Defender. The company was founded by Scott Wallace and the brothers Tom and Elliot Humble, three British “petrol heads” (well, one is Scottish) building high-end performance SUVs in Kissimmee, Florida (with a design studio in Malibu, California). Their “Rover Dome” in Florida is a 45,000-square-foot facility employing 52 craftspeople.
Each of the company’s builds goes through 12 work bays, and gets electronic upgrades, modern audio and in-dash navigation systems. The electric Range Rover is a 1995 from the CD player era, but now it has an Alpine Halo 9 System with Apple Car Play, Sirius XM and USB. The single-play CD is hidden in the glovebox.
The car has a Tesla powertrain producing 450 horsepower, backed by a 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack. It can travel 220 miles on a five-hour charge, and despite the weight will reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. They’ll build you one just like it, with a Tesla drivetrain provided by Electric Classic Cars in the UK, the company’s own custom instrument panel, a back-up camera, Bluetooth, automatic headlights and other modern amenities, for $195,000.
“It was important to us to expand are offerings into the electric market,” said founder Tom Humble. “Now that we have finished this Range Rover Classic, we’re going to work on electrifying Defenders and other Land Rovers.”
Customers without big money to spend will have to look elsewhere. E.C.D.’s builds start around $180,000 and with customization can reach $300,000. An average build is $225,000. Maybe 60 cars a year come out the Florida facility.
“No one else will have one exactly like yours,” Tom Humble told Car Talk. “There is an enormous number of options and customizations to create these one-of-one vehicles. It will be a true go-anywhere, do-anything car. You can take it off road and give it a beating, then clean it up and take your wife to dinner.”
Scott Wallace said, “We retain the classic elements of the donor vehicles, but give them modern functionality. We buy the best-available base cars, sourcing rust-free examples from Spain, Italy and France. The client brings his or her vision to use, then we use the skill sets to realize that vision. We don’t debate with our customers—they get what they want.” The whole process of designing the car, with the client working alongside a concierge, takes a month. It's not just buying a car, it's taking a journey.
The electrics might take over, but what E.C.D. has done to date is install powerful American-made V-8s. For instance, the Retro D90 Defender starts at $169,995 and nets a 5.3-liter Chevrolet V-8 with 320 horsepower and zero to 60 in seven seconds. The next grade up is the Custom Defender, with the 6.2-liter LT1 engine, 450 horsepower, zero to 60 in six seconds and a bottom line of $194,995. Add a supercharger, an eight-speed automatic and a lot of features—Nappa leather, Recaro seats, air suspension, panoramic roof—and you get 650 horsepower for $239,995 and a five-second to 60 time. Could you ask for more? Of course, it’s the whole point of the bespoke company. Range Rovers can have a similar treatment.
E.C.D. has built around 300 cars to date, but another 50 have been ordered and are awaiting completion. There’s a 14-month wait.
Wallace said clients are usually self-made in business, health care (ie, doctors), IT technology or sports—lots of sports stars. “They want a classic car with modern elements,” he said. “If they just want a luxury SUV, they can buy a Mercedes G-Wagen off the showroom floor.”
The electric market started out slow, but not it’s unstoppable. Wallace said E.C.D. has been planning it for three years, trying to get the Tesla drivetrain to work with the Land Rover components. “We didn’t want a half-assed job—it had to seem like the electric systems were factory, like they were meant to be there.”
My guess is that in the not too-distant future, E.C.D. will be building only electric classics. That’s where the market is going, as Bentley, Jaguar and Jaguar Land Rover itself pivot to battery drivetrains.