For the past few years, East Coast Defender has been firing out compelling Land Rover Defender builds like it's been saving up ideas since the Defender was introduced in 1948. We're talking beauties like the Corvette-powered Project XIII and Beast. Now it's created a Defender so hot it had to make a whole new division for it. The Project Viper carries the usual V8 upgrade and modernized technology, but looks even more prepared to swallow obstacles whole while winding its way in and out of distant hinterlands.

As generously upgraded as all East Coast Defenders are, some feel a bit too much like stylized show trucks, destined only to get dirty when the wind is whipping up dust on the highway in and out of Las Vegas' SEMA Show. The Project Viper does not fall into this category. ECD calls it its most capable SUV, and the build definitely looks like it's going to spend some serious time off-road. In fact, it already has, kicking up sand and dust all over its photo shoot.

Commissioned last year by a "renowned doctor," the Defender 130-based Viper gets the usual ECD GM V8 treatment, earning itself a 430-hp 6.2-liter LS3 matched to a six-speed automatic. KAM heavy-duty axles with electronic locking differentials keep the Nitto Mud Grappler-wrapped 20-in custom wheels spinning, and a custom suspension with King off-road racing shocks and Old Man Emu coil springs eats up rough ground to keep things smooth and steady.

Other upgrades below the body slabs include a stainless steel fuel cell, braided stainless steel fuel lines, Wilwood brakes with stainless steel brake lines, and heavy duty steering arms.

On the exterior, a tubular front bumper packs in a WARN winch and LED spot lamps add extra lighting power. The pickup bed in back has been filled out with diamond plating, toolboxes and seating, and there are also rear LED work lights and a custom swing-away tire carrier. An external roll cage adds some extra toughness around the cabin.

If you're paying US$285,000 for a one-off vehicle, you're not likely to be satisfied with Land Rover Defender levels of interior comfort and design. So ECD dropped in heated leather seats stitched in white, LED mood lighting, power windows, air conditioning, and a full technology suite with Kenwood touchscreen infotainment, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, GPS, Wi-Fi, Morel speakers, wireless phone charging and back-up cam. It's also added Classic Instruments Moal Bomber gauges, a dash upgrade and a remote locking/alarm system.

This particular one-of-a-kind vision of the Ultimate Defender has been spoken for (and created with the input of the guy doing the speaking), but future buyers who want to build a special Defender of their own will now be able to do so through ECD's Ultimate Vehicle Concept division. The new arm will build just 10 custom SUVs a year within a separate area of ECD's Florida-based "Rover Dome" facility. Each client will be able to guide the design process.

"Our UVC Design Studio will provide a luxury buying experience unlike anything in the world," promises Tom Humble, East Coast Defender co-owner. "While staying true to Land Rover heritage, our clients will be able to completely redesign their Defender. Each SUV that rolls out of our facility will be ready to cross continents or tackle the most demanding conditions in a Baja race."

Ultimate Vehicle Concept Defenders will be one-of-a-kind creations developed and built without pesky budget constraints in the way. ECD promises extreme-capability off-roaders built up to meet each buyer's exacting standards and requirements.

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