Twisted will go beyond the Land Rover Defender in U.S. push
Twisted, the British specialist that made its name re-imagining the iconic Land Rover Defender, is looking at classic Range Rovers, Aston Martins, Bentleys, and Jaguars to expand its offering in the U.S.A.
Twisted North America’s CEO, Tom Maxwell, has brought in design and engineering experts from Jaguar and Land Rover and will open a Los Angeles showroom to realize his ambitious plans for the brand.
Austin, Texas, is currently home base for the company’s U.S. operations, while the cars are built by specialists in New Jersey and Virginia. Its NA-V8 and NAS-E electric vehicles are based on 25-year-old imported Defenders which are then completely taken apart and rebuilt the Twisted way. Alongside a wide choice of customization for paint and interior trim, the main decision for buyers is whether to install an LT1 V-8 engine or Twisted’s own electric powertrain.
The 525-hp V-8, mated to a GM 8L90 eight-speed automatic, is offered in every Defender body style from soft-top to long-wheelbase double-cab pickup, and all moving parts are significantly updated. Suspension is by Bilstein and Eibach, and brakes by Alcon.
The electric NAS-E is aimed squarely at California; the two-door soft-top body is built very much with the beach in mind. Powered by a 60-kWh battery pack the EV conversion is modular, so buyers can conceivably swap to combustion power. Equally, buyers of V-8 cars could opt to go electric in the future.
Maxwell says that currently the sales split is around 50:50 between the two wildly different interpretations of the Defender, but sees the future of Twisted as, ultimately, electric.
“I have a V-8 F-Type on my driveway,” he says. “So although I knew the market was there, it took me some convincing that EV was really the way to go. But then I drove our concept EV and I got it. Actually, it’s really well suited to the Defender, you think about the torque curve of the motor and the fact that you can be quite canny with how you program it and the fact that you don’t have to worry about air intakes anymore, so your wading depth increases . Defenders, typically have noisy diesels, so when you’ve got a soundproof Twisted with an electric motor, it’s a really nice experience to be in the cabin. And so for me, the penny dropped.”
Maxwell says that Twisted didn’t rush to market with the NAS-E because the company wanted to future-proof the design. “For me, it was like, let’s just take our time, get it right, make sure that it’s modular so that it can be improved upon at a later date if we need to as the technology advances, because it is advancing quickly.”
Also advancing quickly are Maxwell’s plans for Twisted in North America. Maxwell, who grew up in Yorkshire, U.K. not far from Twisted’s home, licensed the brand from founder Charles Fawcett in 2020 and set about establishing Twisted Stateside. He planned to sell one car a month in his first year and double that number in year two and is, so far, well on target. By 2025 Maxwell aims to have sold 150 V-8s in America, but before that number is reached there will be a Twisted take on at least one other British classic.
To achieve that, Maxwell hired Paul Kilvington as head of bespoke design and Darren Jones as head of technical design. Both men have a huge amount of experience working on Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, and Kilvington is credited as being the “mastermind” behind the introduction of Land Rover and Range Rover to the U.S. in the 1980s.
“Paul was an essential hire, because really, what we wanted to do was bring a proper OEM and design house approach to doing these vehicles. I think it’s important to say that Paul is one side of the coin and the other side of that coin is Darren, who’s our head of technical design. I’m trying to evolve the business away from the kind of ‘mom and pop’ customization kind of shop.”
“’In my mind, a hand-built Twisted vehicle is really quite special,” says Kilvington. “There’s no other vehicle that’s like it. Twisted vehicles should never be confused with a ‘restomod,’ as they’re completely re-engineered—from the bolts up—to be modern, thrilling, practical and comfortable machines that express the individual personalities of every customer. They’re authentically Defender, yet completely new.”
Kilvington and Jones will also be tasked with taking the Twisted approach beyond the Defender. “The Range Rover classic is obviously an appealing choice,” says Maxwell. “We have looked at it before, but equally I think that a lot people are jumping on that bandwagon. I’d want to do something really different, really interesting. It would definitely be British, but I’m not sure whether it would even be another Land Rover product or whether it would be in a larger frame chassis. It might be something completely different like a classic Jaguar or an Aston Martin or Bentley.”
Maxwell says the Jaguar XJ-S may also be an option, as he likes the idea replacing its V-12 with a modern powertrain, and the Twisted concept may even reach beyond the automotive sphere.
“The idea of Twisting something, yes, respecting the original, making it better improving on it, making it more functional, whilst respecting its heritage—that could be applied to anything. And does that even stop automotive? That’s what we’re most excited about. How can we leverage the Twisted ethos away from just Defender and into some really, really cool stuff?”
When will see this next step on Twisted’s North American journey? “I don’t think anybody will grow gray hair by the time we announce something,” jokes Maxwell. “I don’t think it will be this year but we might look at it next year.”