Off the top of my head I can think of about 14 engines that have powered the mighty Land Rover Defender (and Series vehicles) over the years and not counting the latest Defender incarnation. That is for another article I think as I have not yet had the pleasure of driving one.

Some say it was add out of the necessity to meet the European Emissions Regulations, some say it does not meet the needs of the truck? Whatever your disposition on the matter the 2.2l TDCI is a a refined engine with lots of power and torque.

Personally. I have a 300tdi parked on the drive and it is a great blend of simplicity with enough grunt to make road journeys at a decent speed possible. Refined it is not. Compared to the 2.2l engine the 300tdi is less refined, noisier but in my view one of the last true Defenders.

The 300tdi is the sort of engine that if you give it some love and attention it just keeps going and going. The limited electronics compared to the 2.2l engines are also a great bonus as I have seen these go very wrong first hand causing expensive repair bills.

To keep the boss happy we best throw a couple of the Series engines into the mix. Lets start with the word agricultural and work from there. The 2.25l engines that adorned the Series III vehicles evoke memories from their beautiful and unique aroma to the vibrations through the vehicle.

But the 2.25l Diesel that appeared in Series III vehicles in 1983-84. We probably know this as the 2.3l engine but it was actually a 2286cc lump. This engine was a bit of a contrast. Give it the necessary attention and it was unstoppable and would run forever. Yet on the converse it is a high maintenance bit of engineering. However, the simplicity of the mechanics made it easy to maintain or fix in a field, if a bit of an art form.

Live with the vibration and other quirks and this is a quaint bomb proof engine if you look after it. Also, as an aside these engines also got some use in London Taxi’s back in the day.

Following this you obviously have the;

  • 2.5l petrol
  • 2.5l diesel
  • 2.5l Turbo Diesel
  • 3.5l V8
  • 3.9l V8 Injection

Ok, by now you are wondering what is this bright idea? I know about all these engines.

The Bright Idea

Keeping an eye on what is happening in the world of Land Rover and of course restoration we came across an artisan company in the depths of Wales who have completed a Land Rover Defender 110 conversion with state of the art Telsa running gear.

You read that right! The team in wales have taken a stock LR 110 and converted it with Tesla’s 450hp Model S 4×4 drive unit.


Exactly what I thought. But this canny set of engineers have been sourcing these modern engines from our very eco friendly neighbours in Norway when they have low mileage write-offs. Looking around there are plenty to choose from!

What is to compare

Well for starters the stock engine, the 2.2l diesel we mentioned above has a 0-60mph time of somewhere in the 16sec range (if fully tuned services and with a following wind) whereas the Tesla running gear propels the Defender down the road to 60mph in an astonishing 5secs eventually topping out at an more than respectable but scary 120mph.

Can it go off road?

Yup! The permanent 4×4 has apparently improved the experience. With the standard transmission and transfer box having been swapped out for a full-time four-wheel-drive system operating on an uprated limited-slip diffs the electric motor is ready to deliver peak torque from a standstill. In reality this means off-road it can crawl along at very low rpm when required.

This cannot be perfect?

Nothing is perfect and its Achilles is located in the knock to towing capacity. Where our beloved diesel engines and setups are able to pull 3.5T the Tesla with all its torque is only rated to 2.5T. That said with a reported 450Nm of torque it will still manage to pull a 2.5T load without trouble.

Distance/Fuel Economy

It isn’t too bad, producing around 150miles of travel from a set of Tesla Lithum Ion Batteries.

Is this bright idea?

It is definitely a way of breathing new life into vehicles and putting a modern twist on historic restorations. It is something our engineers will be keeping a close eye on as the technology is mainstream in modern cars and we are sure that soon enough with all the rules and regulations around motoring the time will come when we are tasked by customers to fit our Series restorations with modern electric running gear.

Watch this space, you never know when we will be showing off our first electric vehicle and adding the Tesla’s 450hp Model S 4×4 drive unit to our list of available engines.

We are the leading Land Rover Restoration Specialists in the North East. We can restore any Land Rover!

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