Heritage Customs’ Land Rover Defender Convertible Is a Valiant Effort
With its retro looks, off-road hardware, and a notable heritage, the current Land Rover Defender is a worthy foe to the likes of the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco in just about every way save for one notable exception: its fixed roof. That’s right: whereas Jeep and Ford let Wrangler and Bronco buyers drop (or remove) their SUVs’ tops, Land Rover forces Defender buyers to make do with little more than an available power-operated glass sunroof or folding fabric roof.
Although both bring some sunlight into the cabin, neither offers the wind-in-your-hair experience of removing (or folding) the roof back entirely. Presumably, Heritage Customs viewed Land Rover’s omission of a bona fide Defender convertible as a business opportunity, as the custom coachbuilder plans to lop the top off of five Defender 90s in 2022.
The result is a two-door Land Rover Defender that bottles the open-air energy of its Jeep and Ford competition. Dubbed the Valiance convertible, Heritage Customs’ soft-topped Defender starts at a smidge more than $155,000 (at current exchange rates). This sum includes the cost of the approximately $74,000 Defender 90 donor vehicle.
Yet, Heritage Customs doesn’t simply saw the top off Land Rover’s two-door Defender and call it a day, as it also adds a dollop of extra opulence by way of the Valiance’s three available trims: Côte d’Azur, Solihull Sand, and Kokkini Paralia.
Côte d’Azur leans less on the Defender’s innate ability to rove all sorts of ranges and instead focuses on the cloth-topped Valiance’s inevitable life as a beach cruiser for the well-off (hence the trim’s name). It certainly looks the part of a way for the wealthy to take in some ultraviolet rays while cruising the Mediterranean coastal roads of the Côte d’Azur, or South Beach, or Manhattan Beach, or . . . well, you get the idea.
Credit the SUV’s big 22-inch wheels wrapped in whitewall tires. Heritage Customs complements the trim’s throwback wheel and tire design with a coat of blue paint about the vehicle’s body, a rich brown soft top, and copper exterior and interior trim pieces.
Those who find the ritzy style of the Valiance’s Côte d’Azur trim a bit much may prefer the more classic decor of the SUV’s Solihull Sand trim. Inspired by the first production Land Rover from 1948, the Solihull Sand kit brings a set of old-school-looking 20-inch wheels to the Valiance, as well as a green exterior hue, gunmetal trim pieces, and a tan top.