It’s unmistakably a Defender, but the changes run deep. Body and chassis structures aside, in fact, not much has been left alone at all. There’s a GM LS-series V8 - more on which in a moment - mated to a five-speed manual for now, still driving all four wheels but without the low-ratio transfer box and with... well, a list is easier: new differentials, drive shafts, prop shafts, drive flanges and CV joints, bushes and fuel tank. There are new springs and adjustable dampers, different anti-roll bars and upgraded brakes.
Inside, you get what you see. Leather trimming everywhere, all completed in-house, including unique coverings for some truly exceptional Recaro seats. And sound proofing. Lots of sound proofing. This is luxurious like no Defender I’ve ever sat in. And that, coupled with the mechanical upgrades, is why Twisted will charge £140,000 for one.
Fawcett’s concerns about squeaks, rattles and refinement seem pretty unfounded too. Attempting to remove every squeak in a Defender must be like trying to manually tag every ant in a colony, but by gum, this is a proper job. There are still noises – wind, road, the odd interior niggle, but this is a Defender, after all.
It even rides: Twisted fits variable rate springs – softer in the very first part of travel, stiffer thereafter - which take the edge from high-frequency road inputs. Despite bigger wheels (18s rather than 16s), there’s compliance in the tyres, too: this car has road-biased Toyo Proxes S/Ts, but they still have 60 profile sidewalls on 285-section width.
That all goes to allowing this Defender to make better use of that engine. The “small block” has long been a default aftermarket choice, and it’s easy to see why. They come crated and made for applications like this: no complicated ECU lockdowns, just a compact and light (this is a 6162cc car, remember), revvy yet flexible motor. And Twisted’s customers have made no suggestion that they want a Jaguar Land Rover-sourced engine.
Despite this version being a 480bhp motor from the Chevrolet Performance range, whose manifolds lift it to 520bhp, it’s still refined when you want it to be, yet revs when you don’t. Here, second stretches to 70mph, yet it’ll pull at 30mph in fifth. That extensive range makes it great for overtakes without gearchanges, which is just as well. The shift is fine; just long.
So you choose a gear, use the exceptional visibility to line-up a pass or a stretch of road, and enjoy what this Twisted Defender offers: six seconds to 60mph kind of performance, fine body control (for a Defender), well weighted - if a little slow - steering (a faster rack is an option), and quite keen roadholding.
A softer front anti-roll bar and stiffer rear one allow the front to settle on an outside wheel, the Defender threatens to understeer a touch, and the stiffer rear might tighten the line on the way out of a corner, but you’ll have probably backed out of it by then. I know I had. After all, you can’t change, fundamentally, what this car is. It’s fast, it’s luxurious, it’s expensive and rare (a dozen or so V8s a year), but it’s still a Defender. But that’s exactly the point.