Function by Black Bridge Motors looks like a Defender, has a Wrangler twist

Black Bridge Motors is a classic vehicle shop in Norwalk, Conn., that restores and restomods just about anything and can upgrade individual components in just about any way a customer is ready to pay for. With deep experience in modifying Land Rover Defenders, and with moneyed clients not yet tired of having old Landies made new, the outfit is now in the business of creating its own modified Defender-mimicking off-roaders under the brand name Function by Black Bridge Motors.

About the only unconventional element is the frame. Black Bridge lead designer Scott Gilbert told us it's a JK Jeep Wrangler frame with that rig's 116-inch wheelbase. Gilbert said the extra six inches gives second-row passengers more room, and, "The benefits of being able to utilize the vast Jeep aftermarket allow us to offer some really great upgrades for these trucks," on top of the ease of service and finding parts.

The standard suspension geometry remains, a Bilstein suspension holding everything in place at standard height, or with a two-inch or four-inch lift. Atop that is a custom Defender-looking body in 3/8-inch aluminum, the thickness helping provide rigidity since the Function is a stretched convertible. A roll cage can be added for $7,850, with the soft top that one would presumably like to stretch over the roll cage costing another $3,500.

The rest comes straight from the bible of high-dollar restomods. In standard form, power comes from a GM Performance LS3 V8, the 6.2-liter mill with 430 horsepower shifted through a six-speed automatic. The optional engine is the supercharged LS4 V8, its 6.2 liters making 650 hp and worked through an eight-speed automatic. For another upcharge, a customer can get a six-speed manual with either motor. Brembos are on stopping duty, the choice there either standard drilled rotors, a Big Brake kit, or a race brake kit.

The interior's laid up with loads of leather on the included premium seating or the front-row sport leather seats, either of which can be heated and cooled. Black Bridge remakes the dash with digital gauges and the instrument panel with an iPad as the infotainment and HVAC controller; the company made a video about similar fitment in a customer's Defender.

Black Bridge says each Function is numbered and hand-built; judging by the YouTube channel, the outfit doesn't take shortcuts. Pricing starts at $144,950 before options. The Portofino Red model we configured with two rows of heated and cooled sport seating in Parchment leather, the big engine and six-speed manual, steelies, plenty of lights, and other extras comes to $189,050.

If you're a purist and the underpinnings give you pause, Gilbert told us Black Bridge is working on another chassis option for its Function brand, "a proprietary 110-inch wheelbase design [with] independent front suspension, triangulated trailing arm rear suspension and the ability to option all of the OEM Land Rover Defender 110 body configurations." Currently in development, Defender 90 builds will eventually get the option, too.