Perceiving the Heritage Customs Valiance has been thoroughly engineered only takes a few seconds behind the wheel. The FIA-approved roll cage is critical. It’s hand-stitched in thick leather and hard-bolted to the chassis at 16 points. As a result, the Valence Convertible feels even more solid than the standard 90 – a car that already exudes tank-like robustness.
The single-skin roof, meanwhile, could be an OEM design from a generation or two ago. Roof up, you’ll hear a little wind flutter, but nothing else separates it from a standard 90 hardtop, even at motorway speeds.
Dropping the electrically operated roof is a quick job – five seconds, by our count. The manually released clips at the top of the windscreen could feel chunkier, but the rest of the mechanism has a depth of engineering Isambard Kingdom Brunel would be proud of.
Roof down, the Valiance Convertible feels unlike anything else on the road. With the sun beating down and the birds singing in your ears, it has a closer-to-nature feel, fitting for a car that can take you anywhere the natural world offers. More importantly, the burley nature of the Defender base car remains intact. There’s no flexing or creaks and none of the buffeting that’s a symptom of poor design.
Going roof down suits the Defender perfectly. Encouraging you to take a leisurely pace as you take in the Landy’s surroundings from its famously commanding driving position. Our car rode on Heritage Custom’s delicious 20-inch Rock Dust wheels and Land Rover coil springs that hit a good compromise between comfort and control.
Power, meanwhile, comes from Land Rover’s P400, 400PS (294kW) in-line six-cylinder petrol engine, which provides lusty performance (0-62mph in 6.0 seconds) and emits a characterful exhaust burble with the roof down. While Heritage Customs hasn’t weighed the Valiance Convertible, we would struggle to tell the difference in a car that already weighs nearly 2.5 tonnes.