Twister Land Rover Defender V8 Preview & Buyer's Guide

Twisted Automotive's bespoke Land Rover Defenders offer luxury and V8 power at sky-high prices.

 Twisted Automotive ordered 240 new Land Rover Defenders in 2015, before the final Defender rolled out of the factory in early 2016. But none of the 2,016,693 other Defenders on the planet are likely to rival Twisted's customs. Fully trimmed in luxury without sacrificing utility, Twisted's Defenders represent a new peak in today's retro-mod boom.

Exterior Styling

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Twisted Automotive's approach to their Land Rover Defender selection clearly centers around keeping things as minimal and raw as possible. Their cleaned-up Defenders cry out for a bit of mud and grime sprayed over every surface and clinging in every nook and cranny. But other than their spotless finishes, not a ton has changed from the products Land Rover has been selling for decades.

Of course, that's not to say that a bit of modernity fits into the mix. The first thing most Defender fans will notice is the wheels and brakes, for the most part custom pieces that hint at the rest of Twisted's resto-mod process. Color and style can be specified by would-be customers, although a relatively wide range of already completed Defenders sit waiting for a willing buyer on Twisted's website that won't require a waiting period. Matte and glossy grilles, modern headlights, billet aluminum trim, and plenty of Twisted badging fit into the mix.

Details like running boards, towing hitches, and roll bars can be found in various configurations to match specific levels of historical styling. Whether buyers want hard-tops, soft-tops, station wagons or utility trucks, Twisted is happy to modify or restore every form that the long-tenured Defender comes in. Even small touches like genuine original manufacturer wheels, privacy glass, and choice of rear-view mirror surrounds are on offer.


Drivetrain & Mechanicals

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The staunchest Defender aficionados may scoff at Twisted's use of General Motors engines in such a classic English vehicle, but in reality many customers will be happy to swap in a driveline that is more powerful, more efficient, and more reliable than the motors of original Land Rovers, regardless of age. The most common setup is to drop in a Corvette-sourced LS3 V8, tuned to anywhere from 430 to 480 horsepower, and connected to an automatic transmission with a transfer box and lower gear ratios for off-roading.

But Twisted is also happy to offer performance-enhancements for the stock, Buick-based Rover engines. To help beef up factory mechanicals that may not be able to handle the additional power on tap, Twisted replaces bushings and mounts, driveshafts, and differentials. Braking upgrades are commonly Twisted by Alcon, with 6 pistons up front and 4 pistons out back. Long range fuel tanks, dual stainless exhaust setups, radiator upgrades, and upgraded air filters are all on the options list.

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Of course, a bunch of power in a Land Rover Defender is great but the model was intended for capable off-roading fun, not just classic looks and burbling exhaust. Twisted has stiffened their Defenders' suspension with Bilstein shocks to help keep power routed efficiently to the ground, but the setup is tuned to allow for dirt-track pleasure, as well. On smooth pavement, upgraded sway bars reduce understeer and help with traction, but on the rougher stuff, every differential can be locked, and a winch is also included for when Mother Nature throws a little too heavy of a challenge into the road. Air suspension allows for drivers to select their optimal ride height.


Interior & Tech

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Twisted's interior match their spick-and-span exteriors, providing a little more contemporary luxury than perhaps drivers still slogging through life with a 1980s Defender might recognize. Alcantara and saddle leather, Recaro seats, leather dash, extensive Twisted trim pieces, and a claimed 90-hour soundproofing effort help to reduce some of the borderline-Spartan Defender characteristics. All in all, the result is more Bentley than it is plastic and hose-able.

Contemporary vehicles at this price point, even when retro-themed, require all the tech and gadgets that wealthier customers have become accustomed to in their sports cars and enormous sedans. Twisted throws in bluetooth, carplay, backup cameras, navigation systems, JL and Alpine sound, even remote start and a CCTV camera system complete with proximity alarm.

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No amenity is off-limits, including dog guards, cubby boxes, engine heaters, crystal headlights, Momo steering wheels, and mood lighting. Even the Defenders' windshields have been raked to improve efficiency, and upgraded wipers of course accompany the change. LED lighting is standard, inside and out.


Pricing & Buying

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Prices for a Twisted Defender range around the couple hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's right, this is not a Defender from the factory, this is a luxury, hand-built piece of automotive artwork, and considering that Land Rover doesn't even offer Defenders off the line anymore, Twisted's price tags seem only likely to increase - though allegedly not much over $300,000. They've only got 92 left in stock, apparently, and even the cheapest will start around $120,000. Go to to the Twisted website to find a few examples still available for purchase, plenty that are already sold, and to check out all the various decisions buyers will be forced to make.


Quantifying exactly what kind of vehicle could compete with a Twisted Defender is a difficult proposition. Perhaps a similarly custom-built Range Rover or Hennessey's monstrous 6x6 VelociRaptor could fit the bill, but neither offer the iconic profile nor the interior luxury of the underlying Defender. In reality, the closest comparison would be a Singer Porsche, but only the bravest buyers would one of those off-roading.


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