Mount Pleasant Magazine Sept-Oct 2023

92 | | local commerce Nothing is hotter right now than the global bespoke SUV market. Discerning collectors and sports utility vehicle aficionados alike share a compelling desire to drive something uniquely designed to satisfy both beauty and passion for authenticity behind the wheel. The nostalgic allure of owning a classic Defender is deeply rooted in the feeling of freedom and commitment to adventure that Land Rover delivers across the scorching landscape of the retro SUV global market. Renowned photographer and designer Mark Staff is bringing the heat to Charleston and the American bespoke Land Rover market. Staff is the founding owner and pointof-sales-contact for Portugal-built Iberian, one of the world’s most sought-after bespoke builders for the vintage Defender. As a small boy growing up in England, Staff sat in the back of a 1960s Land Rover while his dad and others rescued a stuck vehicle from the surf of an incoming tide. This began an enduring love affair with the iconic brand. An avid collector of custom-built Land Rovers, Staff yearned to make the inimitable Defender better than what was available. In 2018, he partnered with the successful Portugal-based DOP to deliver his bespoke Iberian. “What we are building is a factory-correct, impeccably designed Land Rover that will hit the sweet spot between enduring value and jaw dropping style,” Staff said. He recruited Rui Alves to rebuild classic Land Rovers exclusively to his designs. Rui Alves is to bespoke Defender restoration what Flavio Manzoni is to Ferrari. Iberian operates in exclusive partnership with Alves. The partnership is nothing short of Defender perfection. “An Iberian Land Rover feels like getting into a brandnew car, yet delivers the vintage craftsmanship, which has been seamlessly engineered into our trucks,” Staff said. With a passion for quality engineering, Staff defends the design process as essential to infusing the Iberian brand with those elements that fulfill his own personal demand for excellence along the axis of classic performance and style that thrills. “Iberian’s Land Rover is both new and vintage,” Staff said. “Iberian’s bespoke process is designed to appeal to market demand for ‘new’ vintage vehicles north of the $150,000 mark. We start with quality. We begin with the idea that we are building a legacy LR model on the shoulders of a beloved giant. We engineer meticulous restoration. Certainly, it’s a niche market. Ultimately, Iberian builds and delivers a truly exciting vintage Land Rover for people who love vintage Land Rovers.” Staff knows his fellow collectors well. “It’s not a matter of doing better than the competition for Iberian. It’s an issue of creating something from an authentic love of what stellar design and a legacy platform can do in the hands of someone who wants to make vintage Land Rovers when the competition just wants to make money.” “The central difference between Iberian and our competitors is that while there is a lot of focus on engine swaps, Iberian is wholly dedicated to maintaining the mechanical integrity of the classic with factory engineering specifications that will continue to perform over time,” Staff continued. “We simply believe that this process will ultimately reward our clients with an enduring legacy vehicle that will maintain its value and even appreciate.” Staff created the Iberian Land Rover from the hope of what Iberian can do to bring the spirit of authentic love of the truck to a market long overdue for legacy vehicles that will endure. “A vintage bespoke Land Rover is an investment,” Staff said. “I know this because I am my own biggest investor. Iberian is the real deal our clients have been waiting for. I want their grandchildren telling the story about how they sat in the back seat of an Iberian Defender and became part of a passionate legacy that pierces into the heart of status consumption and emerges as an authentic love for this brand.” “Land Rover has always been worth owning,” Staff added. “The Iberian Land Rover Defender will be worth remembering.” Excellence on Wheels Iberian Land Rover brings bespoke market to Charleston BY JULIE HAMILTON SHAW