What’s the story?
Even if you were put into the driving seat blindfolded, you’d know this is no ordinary Defender 90. Smell the leather seats and, feeling your way around the cockpit, there’s a little flat-bottomed Momo steering wheel.
The gearlever is different too. Very different. Twist the ignition key and tickle the throttle and suddenly it’s all very clear. It’s got a V8 – a blooming big V8 at that.
This vehicle started life as an Overfinch-modified 2.4 TDCi-engined Defender County XS with auto transmission. The owner was impressed but wanted more, so it was sent to Nene Overland for its transformation. The suspension was first on the list – shiny alloy Fox dampers: less obvious are the progressive springs and the anti-roll bar that help to steady things in the corners.
The owner liked what the guys had done and, on hearing that a big V8 conversion was in the pipeline, vowed that as soon as they were ready to go he’d have one. This brings us to today...
I’m driving a fire-breathing 5.0-litre V8 Defender. And it’s mine for the morning. Oh yes...
Our favourite bit…
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. Popping the bonnet open reveals a 2015 Ford Racing 5.0-litre V8 mated to an auto box. It looks like it was precision-made for the Defender. It’s usually used in new Ford Mustangs, and chucks out 435bhp and 400lb ft of torque.
I wasn’t convinced about putting an autobox in a muscle car such as this. But that was before I drove it…
And the verdict from LRO Jerry Thurston:
Well, obviously, I love it. It goes like stink, makes a beautiful noise as it does so and holds on to the tarmac with admirable determination.
• Base model: 2009 90 XS County
• Engine: Ford Racing 5.0-litre V8
• Power: 435bhp @ 6500rpm
• Torque: 399lb ft @ 4250rpm
• Gearbox: Mercedes 722.6 five-speed auto
• Performance: Top speed: 124 mph (estimated), 0-60mph: 6 sec
• Suspension: Nene’s V2 System, Fox dampers, progressive springs, anti-roll bar
• Brakes: AP Racing 350mm discs front & rear, AP Racing six-pot calipers at front