The Tesla-swapped classic Range Rover is the first of its kind.
ECD Automotive Design creates some of the coolest Land Rover Defender restomods in the world. The shop, based in Kissimmee, Florida, typically equips its vehicles with Corvette V8s, but it's also dabbled with a supercharged Camaro ZL1 engine. This year, ECD embarked on its most ambitious build yet, swapping a Tesla drivetrain into a 1992 Range Rover Classic. CarBuzz had a unique opportunity to be among the first to drive this all-electric Range Rover.
Land Rover plans to release its own modern electric Range Rover, but shoppers looking for a classic car with near-endless customization should check out ECD's. The drivetrain might feel futuristic, but the RRC still feels like an old-school Land Rover at heart.
When a customer commissions a project from ECD, nothing is off-limits. The Florida-based shop operates an in-house paint booth using PPG paint, the same stuff Ferrari uses. ECD can create any color the customer imagines, but the owner who commissioned the Electric RRC wanted a subtle shade of Alpine White. This glossy hue pairs with silver metal front and rear bumpers and 18-inch Land Rover Boost five-spoke wheels wrapped in Continental Cross Contact tires. These wheels appeared on many Land Rover models in the past, and they look right at home here.
Aside from the modern headlights that provide better visibility at night and a subtle ECD badge on the rear, there's little to differentiate this vehicle from a stock Range Rover. Only when it drives down the road will onlookers realize that this is far from a standard Land Rover.
Much like the exterior, ECD keeps the cabin layout mostly similar to what Land Rover shipped back in 1992, albeit with extensive upgrades throughout. Customers work with ECD's state-of-the-art 3D rendering artists, who can customize all aspects of the cabin from the leather choices to the stitching and piping. We checked out ECD's interior department, and the choices available is overwhelming. If you want purple seats with pink stitching, ECD can make it happen.
This particular car features Spinneybeck Pueblito Tan Leather with some lovely diamond quilting and black piping. Most of the controls are stock, but ECD had to reposition the seat controls from the center console to the seats themselves, as the console now houses the forward, reverse, and start/stop buttons. A JL Audio Alpine Halo 9 infotainment system sits on the dash and adds modern features such as Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, a backup camera, and Sirius XM. All of the audio sources come through an Infinity Kappa speaker system.
Classic cars are often horribly impractical, but because the Electric RRC is an SUV, it's far less limited. The rear can accommodate three adults, though sitting back there makes us appreciate how well modern SUVs are engineered. Old-school body-on-frame vehicles like this one often leave passengers with their knees pressed into their stomachs. A modern Range Rover is a far more comfortable place to sit. Owners who want a more accommodating rear seat can ask ECD to build a long-wheelbase RRC.
Behind the 60-40 split-folding rear seats, much of the trunk area is taken up with batteries, limiting the vehicle's overall carrying capacity. There's still a fair amount of space, and ECD even included a foldable cargo cover that doubled as a parcel shelf. The rear glass portion opens up while the tailgate drops down, just like a 2021 Land Rover Range Rover.
ECD secured the Tesla drivetrain from UK-based Electric Classic Cars. A single electric motor sends 450 horsepower to all four wheels. Unlike a Tesla, which has no connection between its front and rear motors, the Electric RRC splits power through a mechanical transfer case with a limited-slip differential. The differences between this and a Telsa don't end there. Whereas a Tesla was designed to integrate its batteries in the floor, ECD had to retrofit the 100-kWh battery pack wherever it would fit, meaning there are batteries under the hood and in the trunk.
ECD clocked the Electric RRC at 5.2 seconds to 60 mph, meaning it is quicker than any of its V8-powered Defender models; yes, even the supercharged LT4 ones. This drivetrain swap retains Tesla's regenerative braking capability, but it doesn't offer one-pedal driving. ECD left the suspension stock, so it rides exactly like an old-school Range Rover.
As for the range on this Range Rover, ECD claims the battery will allow for up to 220 miles on a charge. CarBuzz didn't have ample time to prove this range estimate, but from our limited driving session we'd guess it's a fair few miles less than that. Remember, this is a heavy vehicle that lacks modern aerodynamics.
Anyone hopping into the RRC and expecting it to feel like a Tesla will be bitterly disappointed. The drivetrain might be futuristic, but the rest of this vehicle is old-school Britain epitomized. We hope you've been lifting weights during the pandemic because the steering is shockingly heavy, especially at low speeds. The steering becomes easier to manage once up to speed, but it's far more tiring than the rack in a modern car. The suspension feels comfortable, though there is considerable body lean in even the most gentle corners. Remember, ECD wants it to feel like a Range Rover Classic.
Acceleration feels rapid, even quicker than one of ECD's V8 projects. However, more tuning is required before customer deliveries because this example required way too much throttle before the car accelerated significantly. Getting a hard launch from this car requires the driver to bury their foot into the carpet. We assume this issue can be adjusted before the owner takes delivery. As for the break pedal feel, this is typically a sore point for EVs but it felt completely natural to us.
Whereas Tesla attempts to hide the sound of its electric motors, ECD is limited by the Range Rover's packaging. There is simply no great way to make this cabin insulated enough, so you'll hear plenty of whine from the electric motors. We'd describe the noise as similar to a giant Power Wheels car, which might sound cool or childish depending on your outlook. In the future, we'd love to see ECD integrate some sort of futuristic humming noise to offset the whine, much like the Porsche Taycan.
For a first attempt, we were surprised by the overall refinement. It's miles better than a Defender, even one that's spent hours being restored by ECD. There were a few clunky hiccups at low speeds, likely due to the regenerative brakes, but they weren't too bothersome.
With the first Electric Range Rover Classic now complete, ECD says it will offer the Tesla swap on its Defender models as well. Pricing for the Electric RRC starts at $195,000, which is not much more than an LS3-powered example. Bear in mind this is a completely bespoke classic vehicle that requires over 2,000 design hours. Of course, the price can soar beyond $200,000 depending on customization.
Wealthy buyers have no shortage of modern options at this price point. A brand-new Land Rover Defender V8 tops out at $107,200 and packs 518 hp from a supercharged V8. The Mercedes G-Wagen is another viable option and is available well below ECD's price range. As with the Corvette-powered Defender models, the ECD's Electric RRC is best as a fourth or fifth vehicle for owners who want to stand out is something totally unique.