What's the Story?
Fredrik is in the fortunate position of being able to consider a wide variety of driving steeds, but as he puts it: ‘Porsche, Jaguar and Lamborghini are too perfect. Perfect is boring! The Land Rover Defender isn’t perfect but it has a lovely personality. So I decided my car would have a 90 body.’ Looking for a fast, powerful car with ‘an old-fashioned chassis and technology similar to a Defender’ led Fredrik to an accident-damaged, 2002 Corvette C5 Z06. It was ideal, having a simple 400bhp V8 pushrod engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. Better-still, the low-slung body sits on a separate chassis and has ‘robust and simple’ mechanicals – ideal for a DIY car modifier and racer like Fredrik to get his teeth into.
Over the course of three evenings, he stripped away the redundant exterior bodywork to reveal a substantial steel chassis and a glorious V8 engine. The chassis needed a serious trim to make it match the wheel arch spacing of a Defender, so he chopped 300mm from the central section as well as losing excess material from the front and rear
portions. The steel floor section provides much of the vehicle’s strength, so Fredrik kept this, although it needed modifying to suit the new chassis dimensions and to accept the new bodywork.
Another major piece of cut-andshut work involved the massive tube that connects the engine to the rear transaxle, providing yet more structural rigidity, and also houses the propshaft. With the front and rear wheels now 300mm closer together, these two mighty components had to be shortened as well.
Our Favourite Bit?
The crowning glory of the Cordef is its unique bodywork, blending genuine Land Rover panels with inserted sections to create massive flared arches and widened front wings. Designs were drawn up for hard-top and open-top options, the latter being chosen because it would be more fun and easier for Fredrik’s tall frame to get into.
Most of the work was done in Fredrik’s garage, the chassis cutting and welding being the notable exceptions. ‘I tried to plan ahead for the official road inspection, anticipating the issues that might come up. Regulations are strict but they’re quite wide ranging, so you can do almost anything you like’, he explains.
The first step to any custom car build project in Sweden is to contact SFRO, the national agency that has to authorise your build, ideally before you start. Their reaction was refreshing, as Fredrik explains: ‘As soon as they saw the drawings of what I wanted to build, they understood completely and said, “We’re going to make this work”.’
We’re glad they did, because Fredrik Hermelin has created a truly unique and stunning Land Rover supercar. His latest project is a 1949 single-cylinder diesel tractor. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear later that he’s fitted a V8 to that too.
And the Verdict from LRO?
Was it worth trekking out to Sweden on a 48-hour pass to this weird wagon? You bet it was. The Cordef delivers what it promises. It’s fast, potent and looks even better in the metal than it does in the photos. I can’t stop smiling when I look at it. I break out into giggles when I struggle to extract my aging body from the ultra-low plastic bucket seats after an all too brief blast in it. This Swedish winter project has emerged into the spring sunshine as a supercar superstar. It’s brilliant!
This feature appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of LRO. Current and Back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Please note, we only hold stocks of the the last three back issues.