Restoration house Himalaya extensively modifies examples of the Land Rover Defender by hand, creating restomods that combine Old-World looks with New-World power and luxury appointments. Each one is engineered from the ground up and made at Himalaya’s facility in Hollywood, S.C. Depending on the level of performance desired, customers can choose a variety of packages.
The entry-level “Defender by Himalaya,” incorporates the original Land Rover drivetrain with modern upgrades, while diesel die-hards will appreciate the Himalaya “Alpine Series,” powered by a Cummins R2.8. Then there’s the Himalaya “Summit Series,” which features a GM Corvette LS3 V-8 engine. And for drivers seeking maximum performance, Himalaya will fit a GM LT4 that delivers 650 hp and 650 ft lbs of torque from a very compact 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8, shifted by an eight-speed automatic transmission. Himalaya president Greg Shondel explains, “We feel comfortable going to that top-end horsepower because we evolved the drivetrain and suspension setup.”
Dynatrac axles transmit the power to the road, and Brembo brakes stop the Himalaya quickly and safely. Himalaya’s four-link suspension, with tuned coil-over dampers and hydraulic bump stops, is engineered with serious adventure in mind. Torque is applied via front, center and rear locking differentials, optimized to deliver impressive acceleration as well as the off-road capability expected of a Defender.
The Himalaya shown here is a one-off creation designed in collaboration with customer James Bergener, a prominent personal-injury lawyer, who wanted something truly special. Shondel elaborates, “Bergener’s Defender was the first modern ground-up build where the Himalaya team has really gone to the next level. We now build our own in-house transfer case that is better suited for the horsepower, and our team of engineers even designed a coil-over suspension that helps to provide a vastly modernized drive experience that we haven’t offered to clients in the past. Also, in wanting to provide the best of the best in all facets of this build, we worked closely with the team at Brembo to provide a specialized brake system that works effectively with the Defender’s upgraded horsepower and is completely unique to the Himalaya 4×4 brand.”
Himalaya’s tight-knit team of technicians and artists work closely with their customers throughout the process to keep them engaged from start to to finish. According to Shondel, “Our client, ‘Sweet’ James Bergener, was very involved throughout the build process. Often times, he would text our engineers feedback and ideas. This truck was very much built with family in mind.”
Each vehicle, priced between $125,000 and $300,000, includes a chassis that’s completely customized for the client’s specific build. Bodies are treated to show-quality paint, with panels sprayed individually, off the vehicle. The interior also elevates the Himalaya driving experience. Here, custom seats, dash and door panels—upholstered in a variety of leathers—feature stitching and design tailored to taste. Together with modern climate control and a state-of-the-art audio system, the Himalaya combines luxury and flair with the capability of a serious all-terrain athlete.