Niels van Roij reveals first Defender Convertible

Need an SUV that's set for summer? Look no further

By Matt Bird / Tuesday, 9 May 2023 / Loading comments

Those of you with good memories might recall this isn’t the first time a coachbuilt Defender convertible has been mentioned on PH; it was actually the end of 2021 that Niels van Roij – the man also responsible for the 550 Breadvan and Rolls-Royce Shooting Brake – announced the plans for a drop-top under his Heritage Customs offshoot. The Valiance Defender was met with what might best be called a mixed response in the forums, some admitting a fondness for the idea with others on the other end of the spectrum (which is putting it politely). But given the history around open Defenders and the enormous popularity of the new car, it isn’t hard to see why the conversion was taken on. It’s more a surprise that Land Rover themselves haven’t, really…

Anyway, Niels van Roij Design has now seemingly completed the first of what will initially be five Defender Convertibles, and has taken to social media with the result. Certainly, it’s the first we’ve seen, and it doesn’t feel like you’d forget clocking one in a hurry. Love or hate the idea, there’s no missing it, and arguably the reality is better than the renders led us to believe. Roof up is reasonably cohesive, bearing in mind that this car was surely never designed to have a convertible roof; a 90 is a slightly oddly proportioned Defender anyway, so its little tan canvas cap doesn’t transform it. Something closer to body colour would, of course, attract less attention, too.

Roof down certainly looks entertaining, frolicking on the beach in an SUV suntrap, but it seems something of an omission that the roof doesn’t fold all the way down; in these pictures it almost looks like the process of lowering it hasn’t been completed because it sits so far adrift of the prominent waistline. Given the effort that must have been expended, it does seem a tiny bit unfortunate to have it conspiciously piled up – although you’d imagine the firm faced a number of packaging issues when dealing with the 90. 

Whatever the case, there’s going to be no missing a Defender Convertible at the beach this summer, which is obviously a huge part of the business case. Especially when kitted out with a few of its Heritage Customs parts, here including the wheels, Solihull Sand paint and the leather. The modified Defender craze certainly isn’t going away anytime soon…

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