British Formula 1 driver, Lando Norris, is set to stand out from the crowds on the French Riviera this summer, having taken delivery of a bespoke, topless, retro-styled Land Rover Defender at his home in Monaco.

The car retains the rugged original looks of the Land Rover Defender 90, but comes with a host of unique features, details and craftsmanship that are tailored to Lando’s exacting specifications.

One of the most striking styling modifications to the car, is the complete removal of its roof – a first for Retro Automotive, the specialist classic Land Rover restorers commissioned to create the car for the racing star.

“When we consulted with Lando about his customisation project, he was clear that he wanted the car to be completely topless, without any form of roof or sticks,” explains Ben Davies, director at Retro Automotive. “We’ve never had that request before. Customers normally want some form of roof on it, so this really enhanced the individuality of the creation.”

Aside from the bodywork, the retro-styled Defender also features a distinctive McLaren-inspired colour combination. The Nardo Grey is a special pearlescent mix, made just for Lando, while the Muirhead Egyptian Blue leather adds some Mediterranean cool to the finish. 3D-printed metal ‘Lando Norris’ iconography is displayed around the car, including at the centre of the stunning hand-finished leather steering wheel.

Of course, comfort and useability were high on the list of Lando’s specification for the creation, which resulted in a restoration build up from bare metal, taking more than 1,000 hours. And the result is a creation that is ideally suited to the Monaco lifestyle.

The car sits low and squat one moment, but with its adjustable air suspension, is ready for the Riviera’s beaches at the flick of a switch. The rear bench seats have been extended to ensure Lando can accommodate even more passengers on his journeys. Entertainment has not been overlooked, and the car’s Pioneer head unit features Apple CarPlay. The Defender is also fitted with a removable Marshall Kilburn II cubby speaker system that can be pulled out and taken onto the beach to provide passengers with some serious cool summer sounds, even when they’ve left the vehicle.

“Monaco is perhaps one of the most head-turning locations in the whole of Europe, so our creation for Lando will certainly be in good company”, adds Davies. “I’m sure eagle-eyed visitors to the area will be photographing the car for social media, which is exactly how Lando’s interest came about.”

Indeed, Norris reached out to Ben and his team via Instagram after seeing another of their creations which went viral.

“Lando had been sitting around the dinner table with some fellow F1 drivers and they were all chatting about how they loved the car and what the brand stood for,” explains Ben. “After he sent us a DM, we explained a little more about our philosophy, craftsmanship and attention to detail, and we then set about consulting with him to create his own bespoke retro-styled Defender that will sit proudly alongside his existing collection of other head-turning supercars.”

With production limited to just 15 vehicles per year, demand for Retro Defenders’ creations far outstrips the supply. Consultation through to delivery often takes at least six months, although customers are regularly updated on the car’s progress through a personalised build portal app. In-person factory visits are encouraged before a final VIP vehicle handover takes place at the luxurious Swinton Estate in Yorkshire, close to Retro Defenders’ global HQ.

Having completed and delivered Lando’s Defender project to Monaco, the team are now busy creating other retro project vehicles for customers around the globe. So, if you’re out and about and see an unusual looking Defender, it may well have originated from Retro Defenders’ Yorkshire home, and be owned by another high-profile celebrity.

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