Ever imagine yourself as an evildoer in a 007 flick? Yeah, neither have we, that is until details on the Spectre Defender 110 from Himalaya was recently announced. Hardcore beyond words, and outfitted with all manner of opulent accouterments, the Spectre Defender is the ultimate example of what happens when you blend brute strength with British bad guy vibes. We recently caught up with Greg Shondel, President at Himalaya, to learn a little bit more about the vehicle, and why an LS3 engine was chosen.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Land Rover Defender 110, the iconic chassis has long been revered for its off-road prowess and rugged styling, not for its ability to produce impressive amounts of power. Himalaya remedies this malady by replacing the original 182-horsepower 3.9-liter V8 with an LS3, which according to Greg, was selected for “durability and power per cubic inch.”
Greg tells us that both the LS3’s ease of service and extensive aftermarket options were a deciding factor as well and that the decision to offer a supercharged version was only made after the entire drivetrain had been reinforced and tested. He goes on to tell us that, “The builders at Himalaya prefer GM engines, and we will soon be working on the newest generation: the LT1 and LT4,” a powerplant that he hopes will help boost performance and efficiency alike.
When asked what issues were encountered when outfitting a Himalaya Defender with an LS3 engine, Greg’s response proved to be one that we have grown all too familiar with over the years. “A couple of the bigger challenges of getting the LS3 into a Defender was first cooling the 6.2L,” Greg tells us. “So we had custom radiators designed and manufactured for us. The other complication we have had was getting a transmission shifter that we liked to fit and function in the limited space. We solved this by building custom consoles and getting every team member involved in the ergonomics of its positioning and function.”
Let’s also be clear that a naturally aspirated LS3 engine is not the only power option Himalaya is offering international evildoers. Bad guys can also opt for an efficient Cummins R2.8 turbodiesel setup, or a high-end Whipple-supercharged LS3, the latter of which being our preference. For those of who prefer to forego the blower, the Spectre Defender’s unboosted LS3 comes with 525 horsepower and 495 pounds of twist courtesy of a tuned Holley EFI, Hooker headers, a one-off stainless exhaust, and an aluminum radiator with electric fans. Mated to a 6L80E 6-speed automatic gearbox, Himalaya guarantees that each one of these exclusive Crew Cab pickups receives a customized powertrain to best suit its driver’s needs.
By affixing a GM 6-speed automatic gearbox to the Defender’s fully rebuilt and reinforced all-wheel-drive transfer case, Himalaya has been able to both boost power and performance, while retaining the chassis’ proven off-road prowess. Toss in some axles with heavy-duty internals or upgrade to open differentials and all four 37-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires safely receive the power they deserve. Greg tells us that while beefier Wilwood discs can currently be found all around on this pickup, future products will receive a premium braking system that the brand co-developed with Brembo.
Although each Spectre Defender begins with a brand-new, UK-sourced frame, which upon arrival stateside is reinforced and galvanized for superior longevity, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes here as well. In order to stuff those hulking 37-inch Toyo tires underneath, Himalaya’s team had to give the truck an additional 4-inches of lift along with custom coil springs, followed by Fox Racing remote-reservoir shocks, and one-off control arms with Currie Enterprises‘ Johnny Joint articulating ends. As far as steering upgrades go, Himalaya’s Spectre Defender 110 utilizes an OEM Jeep Wrangler JK steering box with a custom linkage for increased precision and unparalleled control.
Externally, these beasts feature a Safety Devices exo-cage, which once paired with a Front Runner Vehicle Outfitters roof rack and a front A-bar-style winch bumper, gives the Spectre Defender an extremely menacing appearance. Throw in a custom bed-mounted rack for the full-sized spare, a Warn Zeon 10S winch, High Beam Offroad exterior LED lighting, undercarriage skid plates, Amp Research Power Step sideboards, and a modified Poison Spyder Jeep rear bumper, and you have one hell of an impressive exterior.
Internally, Ruskin leather and Alcantara make their marks as Himalaya’s preferred upholstery products. Other additions include Recaro seats, Dakota Digital gauges, a Momo steering wheel, Exmoor LED lighting, and a Safety Devices roll cage for when things go pear-shaped when chasing down Mr. Bond. Bad guy theme music gets blasted out of JL Audio speakers, which in turn are controlled via a Kenwood head unit.
Himalaya has also gone the extra mile by designing and manufacturing its own handles, latches, and catches in order to offer unrivaled quality and fitment. With Dynamat sound-deadening insulation utilized throughout, and heavy-duty door seals all around, the days of a drafty, noisy Defender driving experience has officially been eliminated.
Really into off-roading, but not digging the sinister vibes exuded by this beast? The Spectre Edition Defender is just one option in the Himalaya portfolio, so if you’ve always fancied a bespoke Defender, or are in need of restoring your classic Rover, this is the shop for you. Just be prepared to plop down at least $165,000 for a base model, with Himalaya’s Spectre models easily cresting $250,000 a pop.