F1 driver Lando Norris commissions bespoke open-top Land Rover Defender

It’s the Lando Rover!

McLaren Formula One driver Lando Norris has commissioned a bespoke open-top Land Rover Defender for use at his home in Monaco.

The one-off modified vehicle by Yorkshire Defender restoration specialists Retro Automotive, is finished in a special shade of pearlescent Nardo Grey and has no roof whatsoever.

According to the Wetherby-based company’s director, Ben Davies, Norris commissioned the car after seeing one of the firm’s other creations on social media.

“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,” said Davies.

“After he sent us a message, 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.”

Retro Automotive creates one-off Defender for Lando Norris

No roof at all

The car is based on a conventional 2001 Land Rover Defender 90, but the roof was removed completely, with no canvas hood or roll cage in its place.

“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,” explained Davies. “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.”

Retro Automotive creates one-off Defender for Lando Norris

The open-top design features two front seats and two bench seats in the back, giving the Defender seating for six, and is complemented by the paint, made exclusively for Norris, along with Muirhead Egyptian Blue leather upholstery. Norris also commissioned 3D-printed “Lando Norris” badging for use around the car, including in the steering wheel.

Retro Automotive’s 1,000-man-hour restoration also included fitting adjustable air suspension, a Pioneer touchscreen and a removable Marshall Kilburn II cubby speaker system.

V8 power and adjustable suspension

Thanks to the adjustable suspension, the Defender rides low when on the road but can be raised for off-road use. Under the bonnet, the car has a 3.9-litre Rover V8 petrol engine and a manual gearbox.

Retro Automotive creates one-off Defender for Lando Norris

New side-exit exhausts were also fitted to the tired-looking donor car, which was stripped to bare metal and given a full nut-and-bolt restoration before being converted.

Retro Automotive cleaned up the chassis and bodywork, as well as fitting bigger brakes, reconditioning the steering and uprating the cooling, before rebuilding the vehicle to Norris’ specification. The firm says it takes around six months to create each of its vehicles, and just 15 commissions can be accepted every year.

Customers get an app, through which they can track their vehicle’s progress, and in-person visits to Retro Automotive’s HQ at Thorp Arch, between Leeds and York, are encouraged. Delivery normally takes place at the Swinton Estate, near Masham, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, but Norris’s car was delivered straight to the driver’s home in Monaco.

A future champ in the making

Norris burst onto the Formula One scene in 2019, when he joined the McLaren team alongside fellow hot prospect and now Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz.

At just 24, Bristol-born Norris has racked up more than 100 race starts and a massive 17 podiums and is widely regarded as one of the young talents of the sport. However, the McLaren has largely been uncompetitive during Norris’s time with the team, and his first and only win did not materialise until the Miami Grand Prix last month.

With McLaren’s car getting closer to the front runners over the past couple of seasons, he looks likely to add to his podium tally in 2024, though team-mate Oscar Piastri is also a major new talent and seals one of the strongest driver pairings currently in F1.

Norris would likely have been in contention to take Lewis Hamilton’s soon-to-be-vacant seat at Mercedes, after the seven-times champion announced his move to Ferrari this winter, but Norris had already signed a contract with McLaren that will keep him with the team until after 2025.

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