My first time seeing the Spectre from custom Land Rover Defender builder Himalaya was on an early morning at the Paramount Studios Ranch for the first Transterras event.
Last winter, this rig rolled into the mock Southwestern town straight out of the celluloid dreams of every James Bond fan. This spring we went out into the hills beyond Los Angeles to find out just what it could do.
The man in charge of this vehicle build, Arthur Lekic, was in town and the team at Himalaya thought it would be a good chance to shakedown their vehicle on some different terrain than what the low country of South Carolina offers.
The morning started off by exiting Beverly Hills – today’s natural Land Rover country – and heading off on an adventure to the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area in Gorman, California.
The first thing you realize about this Land Rover when you come across it in person is its size. It’s downright commanding. Even on the highway you’re much closer to the windows of trucks than those of commuter vehicles.
But, pulling off onto a backcountry dirt road is where you first start to feel the Spectre coming more into its element. In its current iteration, this thing is meant for comfort off the road just as much as it is on it.
That comfort doesn’t just come from the 37-inch tires, but also from the amount of work that Arthur and his team put into their builds.
Although the Spectre carries many of its older Land Rover roots, it’s built on a completely new frame that Himalaya massages the body onto. This results in a vehicle that came out of Himalaya’s workshop near Charleston, South Carolina better than it first rolled out of Solihull in England’s West Midlands region.
Find an old Land Rover guy and let them open and close all the doors on this thing. They fit, and they fit well.
The propulsion end of the vehicle features an GM LS3 V8 with just a touch over 500hp. In the dirt climbing hills, this naturally aspirated power delivery not only kept the rig moving higher and higher, but it also left plenty to spare for a bit of fun.
That’s where I think this thing really sets itself apart. Yes, in this price bracket you could be looking at a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon with three locking differentials, but this is much more spirited in a driving environment. Fitting for its original Land Rover badge.
With one center locking differential and upgraded Wilwood brakes, you take this thing off road with both feet to manage the acceleration and wheel slip.
At the end of the day, you’re not taking the Spectre out to conquer the Amazon – although with Himalaya’s new turbo-diesel engine option you might want to. Instead, the Spectre is inviting you to take it through town, out to the hills, and romp on it.
Then in the evening you close the doors and head back into town in serene comfort. Just as James Bond would have wanted it.
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