Cars > Transform

Heritage Customs will now build you a Defender Convertible

The Valiance Convertible is not your ordinary soft-top SUV

The one Defender we wish Land Rover would build from the factory. PHOTO FROM HERITAGE CUSTOMS

Dutch designer and entrepreneur Niels van Roij has made quite a name for himself in recent years. When he’s not busy building a Rolls-Royce Shooting Brake or a Ferrari Breadvan Homage, his company Heritage Customs will happily add real rust to your Defender for that unique look.

His latest creation is also Land Rover-based, but removes rather than adds something: the roof. Say hello to the Valiance Convertible, your hand-built ticket to stylish al fresco off-roading.

Heritage Customs will let you do whatever you want to your Defender 90. PHOTOS FROM HERITAGE CUSTOMS

Open-top SUVs are a rare breed these days. Volkswagen has one with the T-Roc; Range Rover briefly offered the Evoque Convertible; and if you want something with a star on the hood, then the only recent choice is a hyper-expensive G-Wagon Maybach Landaulet.

Now, cabriolet connoisseurs have one more option: a new Defender 90 with its roof chopped off. That’s a very rough description of what looks like a rather exquisite vehicle. The company calls it a Bespoke Coach-built Convertible, and likes to point out that everything is done to the exacting wishes of the lucky owner.


For reasons only true fans of the brand will understand, the new Defender remains insanely popular despite well-documented quality issues. This is why we have no doubt that van Roij is onto a great idea with his chop-top model.

You can either bring your own donor vehicle or let the company source you one, and the first step is to create digital sketches showing the car exactly how the customer wants it to look once finished.

Everything is luxuriously wrapped in leather, so think twice before exposing this to the elements. PHOTOS FROM HERITAGE CUSTOMS

Then the team of craftsmen disassembles and measures the car before getting to work with an angle grinder. Following this, the chassis is reinforced, and the new body panels and the hood mechanism are added. Finally, the car is painted, and the new upholstery and the fabric hood are added. All of this is done by hand in proper old-school coachbuilder fashion.

Color and trim choices are only limited by the buyer’s imagination and wallet size. The latter needs to stretch to at least €85,000 (P5.134 million), plus a donor car. Not exactly a small price tag, but compared to what a custom-built Rolls-Royce Convertible will cost you, it almost seems like a bargain.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.