Promoted | Arkonik: meet your dream Defender

| 3 Sep 2020
Arkonik OJU

The Land Rover Defender is a true icon of British motoring, with a hard-earned and well-respected reputation for rugged dependability and incredible adaptability over its near 70-year history. But that’s not to say it’s perfect. Certainly not perfectly yours.

Now, Arkonik is changing the game – helping you reimagine your own genuine and authentic Defender restoration to your precise and exacting specification.

Need some inspiration for a Defender that’s more adventurous? Use the rugged and versatile Teton D110 design as your base. Want a Defender that’s a bit more classic in style? The Shire D90 is the perfect starting point. Fancy something that stands out, but makes sense in an urban environment, without compromising its rugged off-road versatility? The Volt D110 has the key features you need.

You can base your Defender on one featured build or blend the best elements from several designs. Or, you can start with a totally clean sheet of paper and work with Arkonik’s designers and engineers to custom-build a Defender that’s absolutely unique to you.

After nearly 10 years of honing its experience in the US market, Arkonik is back selling its comprehensively restored Defenders in the UK. And now it’s offering an even broader range of possibilities through its new Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) performance division.

The result is UJO. It uses the legendary 424bhp GM LS3 6.2-litre V8 from the Chevrolet Corvette – allied to a six-speed automatic transmission, and race-honed Eibach suspension, Bilstein shocks and TAROX six-pot disc brakes – to create a true performance ‘restomod’ with a unique character and personality all of its own.

To learn more about Arkonik’s wide range of custom-built Defender models, head to

67 years in the making; 15 years in the honing

Arkonik’s journey started in 2006, when founder Andy Hayes restored an old 1984-vintage V8 Defender 110 to travel around Europe. Then a second, which he sold effortlessly. The seeds were sown. By 2010, Hayes and his fast-growing team of engineers, fabricators and technicians had moved to a dedicated 40,000sq ft facility in Lakeside Park, Frome, Somerset, and were selling 50 Defenders per month.

In 2012, the increased export opportunities of the then 25-year-old Defender to the United States, offered Hayes an opportunity to change focus – reaching out to the sizeable modified and personalised car market in the United States with hand-crafted and custom-built designs. By 2018, the newly renamed Arkonik had restored and reimagined 200 Defenders for the US and Canadian markets.

Now, four years after the end of production for the original Defender, Arkonik is bringing the expertise and experience it has gained customising Defenders for North American clients back to the UK.

You take the design reins

The secret to Arkonik’s success is the personal, collaborative touch. As Arkonik says, its Defenders are: ‘Restored by us; Reimagined by you’.

As a client, you can spec your Arkonik Defender using one of Arkonik’s featured build templates, or drawing elements from several. Or, you can start with a blank sheet of paper, with Arkonik’s designers and engineers helping you to hone your choices for the perfect Defender that’s unique to your passion or practical needs – whether it’s tackling the toughest terrain, enjoying some potent track-bred performance, or simply stylish urban commuting.

Arkonik will source the very best extensively appraised donor vehicles to act as a base. The vehicle is then dismantled, with the steel ladder chassis put on a custom jig to be realigned to factory spec, before being shot-blasted, fitted with a new rear cross member, then etch-primed and Raptor-coated for enhanced durability.

No detail too small

As the drivetrain, suspension, steering, brakes and fuel system are assembled, the design and engineering of every component – no matter how small – is considered and treated with intimate and exacting detail.

Only the outer casing and housings of the transmission are retained. Inside, Arkonik fits brand-new British-made gearbox internals and an uprated clutch – with the option for an original five-speed manual or an automatic gearbox, depending on your taste.

The beating heart of an Arkonik Defender is its engine, and the three heritage units used by Arkonik (the four-cylinder 200Tdi turbodiesel, the 300Tdi turbodiesel and the 3.5-litre V8 petrol) have been carefully chosen by Arkonik’s in-house specialists – who boast over 50 years of experience with Land Rover engines – to be the perfect match for the Defender. That means low-stressed, designed for a long life of working hard, with minimum maintenance.

Each engine is stripped to its last nut and bolt, with every component measured, pressure-tested and machined back to its original tolerances – or replaced entirely with a new part. On the 3.5-litre V8, the carburettor is replaced with a four-barrel injector body and EFI to adjust the fuel and injection mapping.

The final paint and polish

As the aluminium alloy body is hand-assembled and the iconic Defender silhouette is restored, Arkonik uses custom tooling to craft its own bulkheads and new panels. These are sanded back to bare metal, primed, baked and inspected after every one of up to three coats of primer, and one coat of etch primer to ensure better-than-original corrosion protection.

Arkonik has also developed its own gasket design to avoid galvanic corrosion where aluminium body parts meet steel components. That’s a detail often overlooked by other restoration companies. Equally, all the spot welds on the main panels are filled and flattened before any paint is applied to ensure a perfectly smooth finish.

Arkonik’s electrical experts create new custom wiring looms from scratch to suit your car’s unique engineering. The heater box is adapted from the factory-fit design with a brand-new copper heater matrix which offers improved performance. It’s a tiny detail most people won’t notice. But in the long run, it’s worth the five to six days of effort.

Tailored sound-proofing and brand-new rubber seals on the freshly painted panels offer enhanced protection from noise and leaks. As the windows, tyres and wheels are finally put in place, another Arkonik Defender is complete.

Delivering the personal touch

At every stage of the process Arkonik documents and photographs the build, providing regular updates and actively encourages you to visit its HQ to see your Defender being built first-hand. Once the vehicle is complete, it gets a professional custom photoshoot, letting you share your new pride and joy with friends and family.

Arkonik’s attention to detail doesn’t stop there. Every vehicle is rigorously tested for 250 miles with five tough sessions that ensure it’s perfectly optimised and 100% fault-free. Only then does it leave Arkonik’s factory, with a personalised video in which a handover specialist walks you through every element of your new Defender. It’s finally yours. And, finally, it’s your perfect Defender.

To learn more about Arkonik’s wide range of custom-built Defender models, head to