Land Serwis builds new Land Rover Series I Defenders with original toolingWho knew the death of the Land Rover Defender would fertilize such bounty? The end of official production on January 16, 2016 has led to a new Land Rover Defender that's coming soon and quite unlike the original, along with the Ineos Projekt Grenadier that will be a spiritual successor to the original, and Poland's Land Serwis Defender, which effectively is the original going back to the Series models. The latter company's first showcase is a fully rebuilt and restored 2010 Defender Heritage Limited Edition crew cab pickup.
It's a beautiful but misleading first note, though. What makes the Krakow-based firm special is that it can build an original Series-model Defender from scratch. Land Serwis says it is one of only four companies in the world, and the only one outside the UK, to possess original tooling and plans for parts and spares. Seeking to make a truck better than the original, Land Serwis uses laser-cut frame members that are from one to six millimeters thicker than the steel Land Rover originally used. Instead of lacquering the frames for corrosion prevention as Land Rover did, the Polish operation uses hot galvanization. Company head Piotr Kowal says the frame is "virtually eternal."
The best part of being able to manufacture a Defender from scratch from in-house plans and tooling is that Land Serwis can customize a build any way a customer wants. If a client wants to install an unorthodox engine, Land Serwis can design the proper engine mounts into a frame before laser-cutting. Kowal said that also goes for "changes into chassis construction, reinforcements, handles, etc." for equipment like "additional tanks, stronger suspension... building a mechanical winch, a crane or a lift." This can be done for 90, 110, and 130 wheelbases, and Koval says that if you bring him your identification and a set of Defender license plates, the company can recreate your truck from scratch.
For the Heritage Limited Edition, Kowal's team refurbed and upgraded one of the special edition Land Rovers produced in 2010, which celebrated the first production Series I in 1947 with the license plate HUE 166. The body's finished in the same Grasmere Green pearl varnish with an Alaska White roof, and rides on the same 16-inch Wolf steel wheels. The suspension's been swapped to a SuperGaz unit with a two-inch lift. The tires are 235/85 Goodyear Wrangler MTs. Under the hood resides the same Land Rover 2.4-liter diesel evolved from the Ford Puma engine.
The interior seating is dressed in brown eco-leather, custom carpeting and headliner, and all metal parts are coated in a mild bedliner material. New door seals and liberal application of Dynamat Xtreme acoustic matting means a much quieter experience on the go. For more comfort, the windows are powered, and heating comes from a Webasto Air Top 2000 ST.
Every truck the company builds comes with the same three-year, 100,000-kilometer warranty Land Rover used to offer. In a world where custom six-figure cars and trucks drop from the heavens like acorns, the Land Serwis Defenders start at a much-less-than-expected 59,900 euros. That's just $67,000 in U.S. funds. Our only complaint is that we can't buy it here.