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Tesla-Powered Range Rover: Behind The Wheel Of ECD’s Restomod

The Classic SUV With Modern Electrified Internals For The Rich & Famous

It looks like E.C.D. Automotive Design has created the first electrified Range Rover Classic to grace North American soil. The ECD Tesla-powered Range Rover Classic just rolled out of the factory, and we were lucky enough to get an early taste of this beautiful vehicle. Yes, they even let us get behind the wheel of this quarter of a million-dollar electrified restomod.

We got a chance to get a full tour of ECD’s operation in Kissimmee, FL, and get behind the wheel of both one of its GM LS V8 powered Defender and its latest build, a tesla-powered Range Rover Classic. The driving dynamics of each are quite different!

ECD tesla-powered Range Rover Classic and LS-powered Defender 90ECD Restomods

The Tesla-powered Range Rover Classic is the first electrified vehicle to roll out of ECD. The company builds about 60 custom restomod Land Rover vehicles, mostly Defenders, each year and has been around for about 8 years. ECD is known for its LS V8 swaps into old Land Rovers. It is run by some super passionate Brits who have a unique take on build processes and service in the automotive space and continually strive for perfection.

ECD custom design software
ECD custom design software.

Each build at ECD takes about 12-months. That’s about 8 months of design and then a 100-day build, or 2,200 total man-hours. There are 52 staff members at ECD, with 38 of those on the manufacturing end of things.

ECD upholstery departmentECD vehicles are full-custom builds with no barriers or restrictions, besides that they must be based on a Land Rover Defender, Range Rover Classic, or Series Rover. ECD has even been asked to put a fish tank in the floor of a Defender, but luckily that client changed their mind before the build was completed.

As you might expect, vehicles with this level of customization and labor to create don’t come cheap. Prices for E.C.D. Automotive Design restomod Land Rovers start at about $180,000 and have gone up to about $330,000. Adding a Tesla EV powertrain adds about $50,000 to a build. That extra cost hasn’t stopped ECD customers, however, as it already has 10 more EVs on the production schedule this year, all of them Defenders.

ECD Electric Range Rover Classic

The first electrified Range Rover Classic to roll out of ECD was commissioned by a Hollywood director. The client supplied their own 1995 Range Rover Classic for the project, which still has a sticker price of about $250,000. Of course, ECD worked their magic on the build even before the Tesla powertrain was introduced. Think of a frame-off restoration with custom interior, Rhino lined frame, fresh Alpine White paint, stainless steel hardware, and new or refurbished parts throughout (headlights, bumpers, etc…).

ECD electric RRC under hood battery packA Tesla Model S drivetrain and conversion bits to make it all work on this old Land Rover came from the U.K. company Electric Classic Cars. The system uses a 100 kWh battery pack and a single motor, mid-vehicle-mounted, to power the full-time 4WD system. Cooling for the batteries, along with the motor and 4WD system components, all live under the vehicle. This means the battery packs are mounted in the engine bay up front and inside the trunk in the rear.

ECD electrified Range Rover Classic plugged in

ECD tesla-powered RRC interiorThe system is said to produce about 450 hp. In early testing, ECD claims a 5.2-second 0-60 mph time. No word on the range, but the onboard regenerative braking system should help in that regard, especially with this vehicle’s mass. A stock RRC weighs in at about 4,400 lbs, and this Tesla powertrain adds a hefty  500-1,000 lbs more to that number. Internal axel upgrades and limited-slip differentials help get that power to the ground and handle the extra rolling mass.

We were lucky enough to get behind the wheel of this vehicle only 3-days after it rolled out of the factory under its own power. It still needs window tint, and custom “E-Lander” badging, but it already has working AC, heat, and a rocking sound system.

Driving A Tesla-Powered Range Rover Classic

I think the tagline for this playtoy for the rich and famous should be “Be Seen, Not Heard.” With that said, this EV does make a lot of motor noise when accelerating but is otherwise silent. The sound of electricity is pretty awesome though, and a distinct opposite of the throaty LS V8 that comes out of a “normal” E.C.D. Automotive Design build. Cruising Rodeo Drive in this classic beauty will no doubt turn a lot of heads.

ECD electric Range Rover Classic powered by TeslaWhen behind the wheel we’ll be the first to admit that the ride isn’t quite there yet. With only 3-days of tuning the throttle, modulation is way off. More than one-third of the accelerator-pedal does nothing, and then the power is slow to come on after that. In reverse it’s even worse, with 50% pedal before the car moves. That is scary when driving a quarter-million-dollar, super-powerful, and near-silent custom-vehicle!

ECD electric Range Rover Classic powered by TeslaThe steering effort is also way too heavy, and even more than in a stock RRC. This makes driving this electric Range Rover a bit more work than it should be, and for some reason also decreases the turning radius.

Once cruising down the road the truck feels super solid and refined like a restomod RRC should. Besides the whir of the electric motor you wouldn’t know you’re driving an EV. This was honestly a bit disappointing, as there is no “one-foot” driving experience to be had with this vehicle like you’d find in a Tesla or other modern EV. This is something that we believe ECD will continue to refine and dial in for specific customer’s preferences.

ECD electric Range Rover Classic powered by TeslaInside the cabin, there is little to let you know you’re driving an EV at all. Instead of a gear selector on the center console, you get four buttons; Electric, Forward, Park, and Reverse. You start the vehicle with the Electric (thunderbolt icon) button and the rest are as you’d expect.

Other EV RRC

While ECD might have won the race to be the first on the ground in the US with an electrified RRC, it for sure isn’t the first to build one or the only one with big plans in this space. The company that supplied ECD with the Tesla powertrain, Electric Classic Cars, was probably the first to market with an electrified RRC, a 2-door model they built in the UK in 2018. Two other companies in England, Lunaz electrified Range Rover Classic and Congleton Service, which both specialize in classic car restorations with Tesla powertrains are also bringing to market RRC vehicles this year.

What all these companies and conversions have in common is a $250,000+ price tag, 80 kWh or more Tesla battery packs, and full creature comforts like AC, stereo systems, and more. Where they differ is in the quality of the vehicle restoration, power delivery, number of electric motors used, and range.

What ECD Had To Offer The EV Restomod Buyer

ECD truck boneyardWhere E.C.D. Automotive Design stands out from the crowd is US manufacturing, full-custom design program and software, and service. A service tech is on standby 24-hours a day to make sure that no matter where in the world the ECD vehicle finds itself, it remains functioning properly. A 2-year 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty on all ECD vehicles gives you some peace of mind when you buy such an expensive custom vehicle.

ECD is also opening car clubs in NY, LA, and Dallas later this year. These will be places for classic Land Rover enthusiasts to gather, store vehicles, and get service performed.

There’s a lot of promise in electrifying classics like this. And while it may take a little more time for builders to really dial the process, this first ECD Range Rover electric restomod points to a bright, zero-emissions future for older vehicles.

Bryon Dorr
About Bryon Dorr

AutoWise Editor-in-Chief Bryon Dorr has been a lifelong automotive enthusiast. From the supercar posters on his childhood walls to the massive Hot Wheels/Matchbox collection, Bryon has been dreaming about automotive adventures his entire life. For the past decade+ Bryon has pursued a career in automotive photography and journalism. He's worked for a wide range of the top outlets in the overland, off-road, adventure motorcycle, and general automotive media. His current household automotive quiver includes a custom overland 2013 GX460, a 2020 Ioniq Electric, and a 2006 KTM 950 Adv. He recently sold his 996TT, and is on the hunt for a new performance car.