While full-size SUVs have lost some of their curb appeal in recent years with many consumers swapping gargantuan, fuel-gulping monstrosities for more fuel efficient compact crossovers, one part of the full-size SUV industry has remained hot: luxurious and off-road capable machines. SUVs with a more militaristic look especially, as is the case with East Coast Defender’s new flagship SUV, Project Viper.
Costing a cool $285,000, Project Viper began life as a standard Land Rover 110 pickup. From those humble, farm-life beginnings, East Coast Defender stripped the truck down to its bare components, and rebuilt with no money or time constraints.
The project began at the beginning of 2016 and has only been finished recently with the truck receiving a host of new goodies that make it more reliable and more capable then Land Rover ever dreamed.
The laundry list of parts begins with a Chevrolet Performance-sourced 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 crate motor generating 430 horsepower and coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Cooling the beast of a motor is a hand-built custom aluminum radiator, while fueling the hungry engine is a hand-built stainless steel fuel cell built by Rick’s Tanks. Getting Project Viper to stop are 6-piston Wilwood brakes up front, 4-piston are at the rear, while the rotors are all vented and cross-drilled.
As for off-road prowess, East Coast Defender included KAM heavy duty axles with electronic locking differentials both front and rear, heavy duty steering arms, a custom suspension system made up of King Off-Road Racing shocks and steering damper, as well as a 2-inch lift thanks to a set of Old Man Emu coil springs.
Furthermore, a set of 20-inch East Coast Defender Edition wheels sit in Nitto Mud Grappler tires. Giving you peace of mind when rock crawling or bombing through the desert, East Coast Defender also gave Project Viper a full external roll cage with a tubular front bumper that houses a Warn winch, as well as LED spot and work lamps all around the truck.
However, this isn’t some off-road only truck where the interior is a Spartan’s dream. Inside the custom Land Rover is a Puma dash upgrade, air conditioning, a set of Classic Instrument’s Moal Bomber series gauges, and a touch-sensitive Kenwood infotainment system with GPS.
Oh, and there’s also a backup camera, onboard WiFi, wireless phone charger, and it’s Apple’s CarPlay and Android’s Auto friendly. Heated Corbeau racing seats finish the interior with white accent stitching.
Project Viper was done by East Coast Defender’s Ultimate Vehicle Concept division, which provides “a luxury buying experience unlike anything in the world,” according to Tom Humble, East Coast Defender’s co-owner. And with Project Viper, they certainly are delivering on that promise.
When we first encountered East Coast Defender, we talked to Humble and he put it best, “Everything we do puts the customer and the vehicle at the center of our business, and our fantastic team simply makes it happen,” he said, adding, “Good isn’t good enough.”