Photos by Christopher Jeyes & Matt Block

New Land Rover Defender As It Should Be: Lucky8 Off Road’s Latest Creation

That didn’t take long! Meet the Lucky8 Off Road Proud Rhino Defender 2 — fully kitted out and ready for off-road action.

While the new Land Rover Defender is a controversial vehicle, it’s still extremely capable off road right from the factory. As with all Land Rovers before it, it proved ripe for some serious off-road modifications.

Lucky8 Off Road in Buffalo, N.Y., specializes in modifying Land Rovers. And it has built a reputation for making modern Rovers work really well off road.

Lucky8’s latest creation is the very first new Defender to be fitted with 35-inch tires. Not only that, but it has the armor, recovery gear, and accessories to make it a truly formidable force on the trail.

Lucky8 Land Rover: Build Concept

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Lucky8 is known for taking nearly every Land Rover ever made and making it much more off-road capable. It has also been the driving force in developing quality off-road upgrades for modern Land Rovers in North America. In fact, Land Rover even had Lucky8 develop many of the off-road parts for its recent Trek Series Discovery 5s.

The idea behind this Defender 2 build was to create the ultimate OEM style/quality off-road-capable new Defender. With that, nearly every modification can easily be changed back to stock form.

Each modification is top-quality and looks like it could have rolled out of the Land Rover factory. The basis for this build is a 2020 Defender 110 SE with the 3.0L I6 engine, optioned with a rear locker and the Terrain Response 2 system.

Defender 2 With 35-Inch Tires

First up was the mission of fitting massive 35-inch mud-terrain (MT) tires under the new Defender. This was no easy task and required some serious knowledge, ingenuity, industry connections, and trial and error. In the end, Lucky8 managed to make 35 x 12.5 x 18 Atturo Trail Blade MT tires on Tuff Ant 18-inch Wheels fit.

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It did this by first swapping out the rear brake calipers for smaller units to fit the smaller wheels (the New Defender with the big motor comes with 19- or 20-inch wheels).

Next up was a set of Proud Rhino lift rods for a 2.5-inch lift while retaining all air suspension functionality. A bit of lower bumper trimming and custom fender brackets provide just enough room in the wheel wells for the new treads. And to open up those wheel wells the little bit that was needed, Lucky8 also had to move the front intercoolers.

Serious Off-Road Capability

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Thirty-five-inch aggressive MT tires will get you a lot of places. But Lucky8 didn’t stop this fully off-road adventure-ready build there.

Up front, the Proud Rhino Defender 2 has a hidden winch tray that holds a WARN ZEON 10-S winch, outfitted with a Factor55 fairlead and UltraHook. And a Land Rover snorkel keeps fresh, clean, cool air flowing to the engine.

Proud Rhino rock sliders help protect the side body panels from obstacle impacts while a Land Rover Fender Flare Kit helps contain the wide mud-terrain tires.

On top, the new Defender has a Land Rover roof rack outfitted with TRED Pros, a Krazy Beaver shovel, a Hi-Lift jack, and two jerry cans. A Proud Rhino rear ladder provides easy access to the roof rack.

Plus, a custom Proud Rhino light bar bracket sits in front of the rack atop the roof. It holds four big Baja Designs LP9 off-road driving lights, which are sure to light up the night.

Lucky8 Proud Rhino Defender 2 Build

Lucky8 Proud Rhino Defender 2

The Lucky8 Proud Rhino Defender 2 build started as a $68,000 base truck and received about $20,000 in upgrades. That puts this build at about $88,000 to replicate — a number that’s actually less than some factory-optioned Defenders.

Lucky8 will sell you the parts to do most of the upgrades you see on this Proud Rhino Defender 2 build, or it can do full builds for you in its shop outside Buffalo.

Is a new off-road-focused Defender going to find its way into your driveway?

Bryon Dorr
By

Bryon Dorr caught the outdoor adventure addiction through whitewater kayaking, and worldwide adventures to remote places ensued. He crafted his own professional path as a photographer, journalist, and marketing consultant in the automotive and outdoor industries, while full-time overland traveling for nearly 8 years. You’ll usually find him out exploring by 4x4, adventure motorcycle, or sports car while seeking out opportunities to ski, mountain bike, and kayak. Bryon now has a home base in Portland, OR, and runs our sister site AutoWise.com.