When we think of a Land Rover enthusiast, we imagine Discos on the Rubicon, Defender and Series restorations, and Range Rover Classics running the Baja 1000. It’s becoming clear, however, that a growing number of Rover owners are fantasizing about rims, body kits, exhausts and performance tuning. What gives?
Land Rover appeals to consumers across multiple demographics, an attraction rooted in Rover’s unique ability to package its utilitarian capabilities into high-end luxury vehicles; two entities which are almost always mutually exclusive. In doing so, Land Rover has developed a brand that is equal parts rugged and refined, capable and cultured. The vehicles have a broad appeal, and customers are purchasing Land Rovers based on any number of qualities. Subsequently, these Rover vehicles are being modified to fit the interests of the owner. Some favor lift kits, and some favor, well… you’ll see.
Style is presumably one of the biggest draws for Rover’s mod and tuning community. What’s flashier than a $75,000 Range Rover Sport? How about a Range Rover Sport wrapped in chrome! Platinum plus.
Not all aftermarket Rovers are modified with such wanton disregard for taste. West Coast Customs, a “luxury automotive restyling center” out of California used a Range Rover concept vehicle as a template for their artistic Range Stormer creation. The resemblance to a Star Wars Storm Trooper is uncanny. The price is from a galaxy far, far away: $250,000.
In recent years Land Rover has really turned up the performance output of their vehicle lineup, offering supercharged versions of their popular Range Rover and Range Rover Sport vehicles that produce over 500 hp. Professional German tuning company Hamann was able to get this Range Rover up to 530 hp, while also adding a few exterior customizations. Not an off-roader, but monster performance is still exciting!
The Defender. The most popular Land Rover of all. Even this icon of icons is not impervious to aftermarket altercation. In the case of the lavish Defender 90 Yacht Edition (tuned by STARTECH), the interior of the Defender has been altered to resemble a yacht. Priced like one too at about $100,000.
Rover purists (a group we tend to identify with) frown on the “Pimp-my Rover” look, typecasting the gaudy guise as a gross misrepresentation of the Land Rover brand.
After all, the Rover was born a utilitarian, military-spec truck; it is a vehicle of the highest off-road pedigree. How can a lowered Range Rover Sport with a front spoiler and 22 inch wheels possibly be trail-ready, let alone speed-bump ready?
The fact is most trucks aren’t going to see more than the occasional puddle or snowy road, despite the depths of their capabilities. A street-tuned Rover was never purchased with the intent of hitting trails and getting dirty, and its reasonable to presume that the owner of a Hamann tuned Range Rover was not drawn by the vehicle’s off-road ability.
Broad vehicle appeal = diverse consumer base.
As passionate as the “old school” Land Rover enthusiast may be (and boy are we passionate), there is equal enthusiasm emanating from “new school” Rover tuners; and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
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