Premier US Off-Roading: Engineer Pass, Colorado

When making a list of the most challenging and jaw-dropping off-road excursions in the lower 48 states, one in particular seems to always come up: Engineer Pass in Colorado. And Land Rover Defenders were built for just sort of terrain. Colorado itself has a cornucopia of world-class, semi-vehicular terrain, so for one to stand out, as this piece of the infamous Alpine Loop does, takes a particular type of bold ruggedness. Conquering a road like the engineer pass requires more than just a truck, as anyone trying to complete the journey should be prepared for any and every event that may meet them along the way. But the rewards, some 12,800 feet up, are the very reason off-roading is and will always be a popular form of entertainment as well as a showcase for the mastery one has on their craft.

Deep in the San Juan Mountains, the Engineer Pass is connected to the Cinnamon Trail (itself a fearsome leg of road) to create the Alpine Loop. Part of its charm is how stubbornly resistant to change this loop has been over the years; along the way you’ll find ghost towns and long abandoned mines, along a vista that has been untouched for over a century. The Engineer Pass cuts across time as well as the actual continental divide itself.

It’s an exclusive club along this trail, one thats membership requires a sturdy set of tires underneath your truck. Entry to the pass is easily gained with the combative and luxurious scope of a Land Rover Defender, but it will take skill (and your breath away) to navigate the route in full. One of the biggest upsides of Engineer Pass is that although it is technically a very difficult road to drive, it’s also rather well-known because of its legendary status; over the years, landmark posts have been erected and gorgeous stopping points accumulated. But, the pass itself is still considered less greenhorn friendly than its sibling in the Cinnamon Trail.

Perfect for an early summer expedition, and miles above and beyond most any other off-road junction, this should be a bucket list item for any owner of a vehicle as audacious and refined as a Land Rover Defender. The pass just celebrated its 140th

birthday, so there’s no time better to head out west for a mountain view. To do so, you’ll need the truck, but also the gear and the accessories to roll through and over the pass in one piece. When it comes to Defenders built from the ground-up for the off-road experience while enjoying in-car luxury, no place is as close to the cutting edge as East Coast Defender. Contact us today at 407-483-4825 for more information on what type of truck we can build for your journeys this summer.

Stunning Defender for Soccer Superstar Couple

East Coast Defender Creates Stunning Dual-color Land Rover for Soccer Superstar Couple Servando Carrasco and Alex Morgan

The latest creation from East Coast Defender (ECD), the award-winning builder of premium Land Rover Defenders, is a tasteful dual-color D90. It was built to be an ultimate daily driver for professional Major Soccer League player Servando Carrasco and his Olympic soccer star wife, gold medalist Alex Morgan. Carrasco and Morgan had a hand in selecting every detail of their new ECD D90. The vehicle was named “Project 13” in homage to Morgan’s jersey number.

Carrasco and Morgan were fans of the Defender 90’s classic styling. “I’ve always liked the design and classic look of the Land Rover Defenders, but it wasn’t until I went to the shop that I fell in love with these awesome trucks,” Carrasco explains. He visited East Coast Defender’s “Rover Dome” about a year ago to investigate the possibilities. “Getting to see previous projects in person and handpicking every detail of Project 13 with the East Coast Defender team has been a really cool experience,” Carrasco says.

Carrasco’s and Morgan’s D90 received premium performance and bespoke styling befitting their pro-athlete status. “The truck is great, it’s unreal,” says Carrasco. “Such a smooth ride.” ECD handled all aspects of the build in-house at its 21,000 square-foot facility.

The base vehicle was a soft-top-equipped Defender 90, procured from a family in Indiana who followed the build online. Once the D90 arrived at the “Rover Dome,” ECD’s 29-person crew began the frame-up rebuild while Carrasco finalized his options and upgrades.

Like all ECD ground-up builds, the donor D90 was completely disassembled. The frame was meticulously cleaned and inspected, then ECD gaIvanizes the chassis to prevent corrosion. Next, the D90 was re-built to order over the course of about nine months — about 2,000 labor hours when into the build.

The first priority for ECD was replacing the 1960s-designed Rover engine with a 326-horsepower GM LC9 5.3L V-8 engine. This engine is backed by a 2-year/50,000-mile warranty. It represents a quantum leap in power and reliability over the original-equipment 3.9L Rover V-8.

ECD upgrades its vehicles to automatic transmissions to improve daily drivability (unless the customer specifically requests a manual transmission). In this case, the crate V-8 is paired to a GM 6L80E 6-speed automatic. Next on the list was an 18-inch tire/wheel package: Boost alloys inside LT285/65R18 BFGoodrich Radial All-Terrain KO2 tires. To stop the larger tires, ECD upgraded the D90’s brakes with high-performance rotors and calipers.

For the exterior, Carrasco and Morgan wanted to combine modern accessories with a retro flavor. They chose a heritage 1980s’ Land Rover color palette: Keswick Green with a black top. The top visually ties in to the D90’s bolt-on accessories. These include a Zunsport grille with KBX light surrounds and fender spats/vents, a Masai roof rack on an exo-cage, rocker guards, running boards and off-road bumpers.

Original-equipment British electrics are legendary for all the wrong reasons, so ECD guts the wiring on its ground-up builds. Carrasco and Morgan opted to go high-tech. The premium infotainment system is an Alpine touch-screen unit with Bluetooth and Apple Car Play compatibility as well as GPS and a back-up camera. The sound system is bolstered by an array of speakers and a booming subwoofer, mounted behind the custom console. Other upgrades include legible, dependable instrumentation: Classic Instruments Moal Bomber gauges.

Driver experience for the soccer stars was improved with a Momo steering wheel. The couple chose to retain the factory Rover seats. However, they selected black leather for a refresh by ECD’s in-house upholsterers.

All told, this Defender represents the current culmination of ECD founders Tom and Elliot Humbles’ more than 25 years of Land Rover expertise.

For additional information or to begin the custom Defender build process in time for 2017 delivery, please visit East Coast Defender at or call (407) 483-4825.