Inspired by the Willys MB, the Land Rover Series of body-on-frame vehicles morphed into the Defender in 1990. The Defender then morphed into a unibody luxobarge for the 2020 model year, a change that splits opinion to this day although JLR has no trouble selling these bad boys.
The purists, however, are left with two choices: scour the classifieds for a well-maintained overlander or venture into the aftermarket for a restomod.
Function, a division of Black Bridge Motors, goes one step beyond the second category because their Defender lookalike is brand-spanking new. The open-top rig before your eyes isn’t exactly cheap, though, because the suggested retail price kicks off at $144,950, excluding the most desirable extras.
Lead designer Scott Gilbert says that a JK frame is hiding under the 3/8-inch aluminum body shell. The reason Black Bridge Motors went for the previous-gen Jeep Wrangler is rather simple: they can tap into the vast array of JK aftermarket upgrades.
The Defender-inspired Function can be fitted with a roll cage for $7,850, whereas a canvas top adds $3,500 to the tally. Braking power comes in the guise of Brembo calipers and rotors, and the central interface that controls everything from A/C to the audio system is… wait for it… an Apple iPad.
Customers are offered two choices for the powertrain: the port-injected LS3 or direct-injected LT4. Transmissions number three choices: a six-speed manual for either plant, a six-speed automatic for the LS3, or an eight-speed automatic for the LT4 that makes 650 supercharged ponies at the crankshaft. The much simpler LS3 small block is officially rated at 430 N/A ponies.
Further augmented by premium leather seats or sport leather seats, the Function sweetens the deal with a 116-inch wheelbase instead of the Defender 110’s 110 inches. And finally, each build is fitted with independent front suspension and a triangulated trailing arm-style rear suspension.