Brooklyn is home to a great many strange, hip, modern, and trendy new businesses that can feel cartoonishly stereotypical against the constantly shifting landscape of the legendary NYC borough. For all the cucumber milkshake parlors and Croatian Black Metal concert venues dotting Brooklyn, there is still at least one business that should survive, whatever the culinary and artistic trends that rise and fall over the next 10 years: Brooklyn Coachworks.
There is no denying that Land Rover Defenders have slipped into the torrents of trendiness, and there is a real danger of builders diluting the essence that made them appealing in the first place. However, after 20 years of building the same Defender 90 repeatedly, Daniel Marcello, President of Brooklyn Coachworks, has learned a few things about the old British bulldogs. He manages to maintain a specific aesthetic and supreme build quality that can only come from decades spent building Defenders.
Aside from the eternal coolness of these 4x4s, they aren’t very good at being a car. You might even hear people lovingly compare a Defender or other early Land Rover to a tractor. They would surely make for better tractors than road-going SUVs. Nevertheless, we refuse to leave these things in the mud where they belong. And thanks to Brooklyn Coachworks, we get the distinctly human pleasure of watching something sub-par and obsolete get transformed into a true masterpiece, simply because we want it to be that way. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Although the folks at BCW do nothing short of automotive alchemy, the main goal is to maintain the historical and cultural legacy of these off-road Titans while making them perform better than the originals. Marcello says that the goal is always to build the Brooklyn Coachworks Landies as closely as possible to the way Land Rover used to do it. The builders also make a point to use genuine Land Rover parts as often as possible. Despite the high price tag and the undeniable class these SUVs possess, Marcello and the team aren’t interested in playing dress-up with these trucks. “A properly built truck doesn’t need lipstick to work,” says Marchello. “We don’t bolt on bling to our Defenders.”
I’ve field-tested Defenders for 20 years in the most congested cities to the most desolate areas, from Iceland to Australia, Baja, Rubicon, and the Sahara Desert. That experience goes a long way when building a proper Defender.
The company offers many varieties of Defenders, Discoveries, Ranger Rovers, and more. In many cases, customers can pick the body style, powertrain, transmission, color, interior, and so on — as long as it’s proper Land Rover gear, that is.
Adding another level of quality and value, all of the trucks made by Brooklyn Coachworks mirror a factory model. This attention to detail means they go as far as only using proper Land Rover factory colors and paint. Aside from Brooklyn Coachworks’ in-house winch, bumper, and suspension, most of the bits and pieces are bought from official Land Rover suppliers. Not only will Brooklyn Coachworks build you a brand-new (old) Land Rover, but they will also restore your old rig or help you source odds and ends for your build.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any aspect of a BCW truck that Marcello and his crew couldn’t explain exactly why they did it the way they did; there is nothing confusing, convoluted, ironic, or unnecessary happening here. These are trucks made to the highest quality of their form. Not only is that quality guaranteed by the team’s reputation, but but they also go as far as field-testing the exact car they build for customers in every condition imaginable, all around the world.
“I’ve field-tested Defenders for 20 years in the most congested cities to the most desolate areas, from Iceland to Australia, Baja, Rubicon, and the Sahara Desert,” says Marcello. “That experience goes a long way when building a proper Defender.”
Every truck that leaves Brooklyn Coachworks is built with the expectation that it will get thrashed on the rough track. Granted, given the price and exclusivity therein, some clientele would certainly be just as pleased to see their Defenders clean and safe in the garage. Frankly, it’s not all that impossible to understand, considering the fact that one of these 4x4s could easily stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
While boutique off-road builders are popping up like weeds in a cow field, there aren’t many — if any — quite like Brooklyn Coachworks. Their dedication to quality, history, and legacy helps forge a product that is without compromise. So if you ever find yourself in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and want to find some real trucks…you know where to go.