The Range Rover’s silhouette was so elegant in the 1970s that the linear ute landed in the Louvre. And yet those appealing aesthetics couldn’t keep the stylish SUVs out of service bays throughout much of the Disco Era. By 1975, a British aftermarket company began upgrading the Land Rover model’s chronically unreliable factory offerings and by the 1980s, Schuler, which later became known as Overfinch, was so skilled at tweaking everything from carburetors to suspension components that one of its trucks won the legendary Paris-Dakar rally outright in 1981. It was a remarkable feat for any vehicle, let alone one whose origins were so notoriously dodgy.
Land Rover has since gone through several owners and transformed their ill-tempered oddballs into sophisticated, dependable steeds, a shift which has altered Overfinch’s mission. Rather than addressing the Range Rover’s once-faulty mechanical underpinnings, Overfinch now focuses the bulk of their efforts on aesthetic upgrades like carbon-fiber bodywork, paint, leather upholstery, and wheels.
Modifications can be ordered a la carte for existing cars or specified on a new car build. And in that definitively British way, the brand’s designers and engineers can also custom one-off projects for those seeking features like veneers to match gun boxes or picnic hampers. Interestingly, however, Overfinch’s most popular tweak is more auditory than aesthetic: by remotely activating exhaust flaps via a Bluetooth system, the Rover’s engine bark can switch from subdued to raspy, transforming the stately SUV into a more menacing force.
As Overfinch pushes through its fourth decade, challenges include newcomers to the ultra-premium SUV market like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Lamborghini. How does a boutique builder battle luxury titans? Though Overfinch may play David to these Goliaths, the firm still captures the attention of brand loyalists who might prefer the individuality of a modified Range Rover over the big dollar expressionism of a Cullinan, Bentayga, or Urus. “Overfinch allows [Range Rover] enthusiasts the option to stay with the best car they know but have the ultimate sort of exclusivity and differentiation,” says chairman and CEO Kevin Sloane.
As for the future, Overfinch’s expanding presence in the United States suggests we might be seeing more of the modified Range Rovers stateside, where modified long-wheelbase, supercharged models can range from $190,000 to $255,000. And while Land Rover has recognized its past by embracing classics with a full-blown facility in the UK, Overfinch is working on their own take on nostalgia by restoring several of its own heritage vehicles from the late 1980s and early 1990s. States Sloane: “I believe these will be among the best examples of enhanced Range Rovers, in keeping with Overfinch’s history.”