Oct 11, 2017

The Process: Restoring Classic 4x4s and Off-Roaders with Legacy Overland

Legacy Overland restores and rebuilds classic off road vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruisers, Range Rovers, and Land Rover Series & Defenders. We sat down with founder Robert Madeira and team to find out more about who they are, and what it takes to preserve such iconic machines while maintaining functionality for the practical uses for which they were intended.     

Why classic 4x4s?

Land Cruiser FJ40s, Land Rover Defenders and 1970s Range Rovers were always there throughout my life. Those on our team whi have a bit more gray hair now share our heritage of riding around in these amazing trucks, learning to drive in them, and enjoying the best of times with them.

The trucks that we work on never really went out of style for me, they just became forgotten by most people for a long time. Over the past years, there’s been a global reawakening of interest in these icons. To me, it's just nice to see more people waking up to these timeless classics. In a way I feel like we work on these dinosaurs; utilitarian form, determined functionality, unmatched ruggedness – and just such an inspiration for getting away, taking the path less explored. This is just something I wanted to be a part of, shaping on my own unique way, not just be an innocent bystander!

To me, these off-roaders are not just about transportation, it’s about living the life you want or aspire to realize. They have immense inherent presence and a purpose that is functional, but also provide a feeling of excitement to our clients that only something really special can. To me personally, they capture that ethereal feeling of excitement as you travel, or maybe sometimes, arrive, somewhere.

Our builds are personal and each individual has their own style that they want to bring into the icon. It’s about making each truck special for each owner, that’s what’s important to me. But it is also fun, that creative process, visual, tactile and mechanical, it’s what gets me looking forward to each build. True, we stray from the strict original and go big, be it for a museum-quality build or something extraordinarily luxurious, but even in our extremes we don’t stray too far from the classy purpose that we are committed to deliver on. I don’t like bling, I don’t like rock-crawling – those are just not my things. Our builds reflect this – and clients we work with respond to this vision – and that is our art. 


I love the thrill of the deconstruction from the starting point, and then to see the emergence throughout the design and build process is something that rallies the team and me every time. Seeing craftsmen take leather and raw sheet metal and muscle it into these amazing shapes is a never-tiring cycle that I look forward to every time. I take each build personally. Perfection doesn’t have compromise and is non-negotiable. Obsession is a powerful motivator, but that’s what it takes to get it where I want it to be.”

Who is Legacy Overland?

We are a US company, headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut (about an hour north of New York City). From there, we do most of the customer-facing activities, such as working with clients, auction houses and dealers, as well as fit and finishing for our builds. We also have operations in Europe, with an office located in Portugal. From there we cover the European car scene, marketing activities (some of the photo-shoots, for example) and of course work on cars.


Why vintage off-roaders and not, say, supercars? 

Our team and garage has worked on cars for decades, not only vintage trucks, but all sorts of cars.  But recently, when we kicked off the dedicated Legacy Overland brand in the US, we have been working a lot on Toyota Land Cruisers, FJ-40s, BJ-40s, HJ-45s, because we think the timeless, rugged cool factor is just so high. Plus, we love them ourselves. 
This said, we are also currently working on some really high-end Land Rover Defender 90 and 110 builds that we are looking to complete shortly. We’ve staffed up the team to take on more Defender builds this and next year and are working on some really, really neat concepts that will be super-distinct. While we have done some classics and will continue doing so, we will still add the Legacy Overland touch to these to kick it up a few notches. But for this line of trucks, we are also going further and will be bringing on some exciting new designs, dome in collaboration with friends in the industry.


Additionally, we will also be bringing a 1973 Range Rover Classic to the Scottsdale auction in January 2018. It is just such a classic line and I think neglected line in the history of SUVs – it is the granddaddy of them all! This Bahama Gold project just oozes 1970s retro-cool, one of our current pet projects. Very few frills above concourse-level restoration, maybe the only real step into the 2000s is a special built Grundig Emden radio unit with upgraded Bluetooth and iPod connection. This is a build for the books! 
To date, we have kept other makes and models at a lower profile as a group and focused on 4x4s with Legacy Overland. For now we will keep focused and not have any ‘style drift’ in our Legacy Overland work. But I have my personal projects also in the sports car segment. I like the same type of cool and classic new vintage motors and look at Jaguar E-types, Porsche 356 and 911s (1960s and 1970s). Maybe that’s something we will bring to market under a different effort in the future in a more consistent and separately branded way. Let’s see!


Are these just collector pieces for rich people?

No way. As a lifestyle brand, in addition to performing frame-off restorations, we offer off-road packages. There are a lot of shops that build great cars, and while we also do that, we want to combine this with unique driving experiences through our “Live It” luxury off-roading journeys. Because no matter how much you go on about how cool a vintage off-roader is and what it’s capable of, you won’t know until you Live It. I felt it decades ago and the memories still echo to this day. The dust in the air, the rockiness of the road, the mud on the tires… Now, we want our clients to discover it too. Our goal is to offer them an exceptionally restored overland vehicle as a springboard for unforgettable adventures – get out there and go off-roading! 

These adventure tours, organized in Portugal and Spain, are an immersive way to take our classic truck restorations to that next level, beyond the machine and into a tailor-made, once-in-a-lifetime experience. We get that city streets are a great place to drive our builds. But why stop there? 

Additionally, we just launched our accessories and apparel brand to further help our adventurers on their journey. The clothing items, made with premium quality mélange yarn in 100% cotton, were thought out to carry on the classic overland legacy. We sat down on an ordinary Saturday afternoon in a Californian porch and surrounded ourselves with cutouts from retro magazines and old car parts. Slowly, reminiscences of off-roading days, dreams and childhood references all came together, and we forged original artwork meant to bridge the gap between vintage feeling and modern design. We never had a gender or age in mind. Everybody needs to escape. So we thought of a global tribe, united by the drive to explore; a community of ageless souls who long for endless, adventurous journeys. 

Learn more about Legacy Overland, their tours, and new line of gear at their website. 


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