Chieftain Range Rover Classic: Jonny reviews a hybrid restomod Rangie
Growling 460 bhp Chevy V8? Check. 100 miles of silent, emission-free electric range? Check. The Chieftain Range Rover really does let you have you cake, and it eat too.
Cutting their teeth on similarly legendary British metal (Jensen Interceptors and FFs), chances are you might have already seen one of JIA’s restomod builds out on the road. However, what sets this Chieftain PHEV apart from other restorations, is the addition of a hybrid electric powertrain.
Starting life as a pristine example of a Classic Range Rover, the hybrid Chieftain was designed to retain all the character of the original whilst also complying with California’s ultra stringent emissions regulations — which could come in handy for UK buyers given the ever-expanding ULEZ Zones encroaching on many city centres.
To create such a machine, JIA has engineered a full hybrid powertrain. A 460 bhp Chevrolet derived V8 powers the rear wheels with 270bhp Yasa electric motors for the front wheels.
As JIA’s Durran Heslop tells Jonny, an enormous amount of development has gone into getting these old and new technologies to work harmoniously together in the body of an aging Range Rover. However, given Jonny’s reaction out on the road, it would appear they’ve cracked it.
Although no official performance figures have been recorded — since the same V8 can scoot the Classic to 60 mph in around 5 seconds, without any electric assistance — acceleration should be pretty astonishing in the hybrid model.
Arguably just as impressive as the performance though, is the sheer attention to detail which goes into every build. Just like a snowflake, no two Chieftains are identical. In terms of customisation almost any aspect can be tailored to suit your needs, and the buyer of this example clearly didn’t hold back. It’s worth looking at the online configurator if you’re curious about what’s available
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One particular option which Jonny gravitates toward are the period-style 3 spoke billet wheels. And while the owner has opted to have the wheels shod with Falken road biased tyres, JIA will supply the Chieftain with more knobbly off-road rubber for those who want to climb every mountain and ford every stream.
Despite the powertrain being the star of the show here, on the test drive Jonny is equally impressed by how much sharper and more engaging the Chieftain feels compared to a standard Classic. This is, in part, down to the reworked independent suspension and rack and pinion steering setup which offers fantastic feel through the wheel.
To get Jonny’s final thoughts and find out how much this bespoke beauty will set you back, hit the video above.