If Darth Vader needed an off-roader, we suspect this would be it.

After sampling East Coast Defender’s radical Project Viper awhile back, the Land Rover specialists in Florida sent us information on the company’s latest creation. It’s called Project Blackout, for reasons we suspect will be obvious to most readers. Less obvious would be the considerable amount of work that goes into this hand-built off-roader with traditional Defender styling cues, so let's take a closer look.




Aside from an abundance of black paint, the exterior is treated to a full roof rack with ladder access and a high-mount LED work light at the rear. The front of the roof rack is adorned with a bank of LED spotlights, while a sort-of traditional Land Rover look exists up front, with aluminum Ron Davis radiator quite visible amidst the sea of darkness. It rides on 18-inch Sawtooth wheels with BF Goodrich All-Terrain rubber that includes a tire-pressure monitoring system – a first for East Coast Defender.

2017 ECD Project Blackout
2017 ECD Project Blackout

Inside Project Blackout things are similarly dark. Land Rover seats are finished in black leather and heated for cold trips into the wilderness. The instrumentation is basic with Moal Bomber gauges from Classic Instruments set into the dash, while a Kenwood infotainment system with Apple and Android compatibility keeps occupants entertained. Speaking of which, the back of Project Blackout dishes up four inward-facing jump seats that can fold down for six-passenger capability, or fold up for cargo duties.


2017 ECD Project Blackout
2017 ECD Project Blackout
2017 ECD Project Blackout
2017 ECD Project Blackout
2017 ECD Project Blackout

Under the hood of this custom Defender is a GM-sourced 5.3-liter V8 not unlike the mill you’d find in the typical Silverado pickup truck. The stock setup makes 326 horsepower and is mated to a GM six-speed automatic, both of which are backed by a two-year/50,000-mile warranty. And to help match the sinister appearance, East Coast Defender adds an a custom-fabricated in-house exhaust system with a Borla muffler for a deep, burbling soundtrack that would not be out of place in Darth Vader's garage.

East Coast Defender says the cost of this specific build is $169,000, so it’s not going to be competing with anything from GM’s lineup, or anything from Detroit for that matter. It could turn the heads of folks looking at a Mercedes G-Class, however, and there’s also the die-hard Land Rover enthusiasts who absolutely love the classic Defender. It’s certainly not a mainstream sport-utility vehicle, but it’s undeniably cool and plenty capable for those who have the cash.

Source: East Coast Defender

Gallery: 2017 East Coast Defender Project Blackout

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East Coast Defender: Project Blackout


5.3-liter, 326-hp Chevrolet LC9 V-8 engine

Six-speed automatic transmission

Stainless steel fuel and brake lines

Borla Exhaust

EBC Performance brakes

Ron Davis aluminum radiator

Classic Instruments Moal Bomber gauges

Kenwood Infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, GPS, and backup camera

Amplified Morel speakers with subwoofer

Heated leather Land Rover seats finished in black leather with four inward facing jump seats in the rear

18” Sawtooth wheels with BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires

Tire pressure monitoring system

Full roof rack with LED spot lamps

LED lighting throughout




Equipped with the 5.3-liter, 326-hp Chevrolet LC9 V-8 engine which is perfect for a daily driver. Excellent handling and acceleration without the extra performance that our LS3 builds provide.


ECD clients are nearly a 50 – 50 split male and female, the LC9 has proven to be the popular choice with female drivers seeking reliability and a pleasant driving experience.


ECD’s first build to offer a tire pressure monitoring system