Diary Of A Defender Rebuild: Truck Cab To County – Part 1

Posted on: July 5, 2013

James is a hardened Land Rover Defender owner and a loyal customer here at Brookwells. So when he had to replace his beloved V8 with a new truck, he experienced some of the ‘teething problems’ that many of us will have endured on a second-hand Landy.

While it looked great on the outside James says there were “Some issues lurking”. The familiar cry of a Landy Owner! But, before we go any further – a bit of history.

The Truck-cab Defender 90 before the re-build

The Truck-cab Defender 90 before the re-build


Andy, as he’s been named by James’ partner, started life in 2000 as a green TD5, working for the Forestry Commission. When his stint marshalling the forests was over the 90 moved to the Midlands where the transformation into the black beast shown above and below began.

A shot showing the two colours of Andy, the Land Rover Defender 90

A shot showing the two colours of Andy, the Land Rover Defender 90


Finally Andy found himself in James’ garage to replace his 3.9L V8 90 which had unfortunately given out. After begrudgingly selling the V8 for parts, James was looking for something a little more economical due to the need to travel in the pursuit of Green lanes.

And as always with second-hand Defenders there were sure to be a few gremlins, bulkhead and chassis are a common issue. This one was no different, as shown below.

Under the Bonnet of Andy, James' Land Rover Defender 90

Under the Bonnet of Andy, James’ Land Rover Defender 90


So, was it in considerably worse nick than James was expecting once he had gotten his hands dirty? “Landover drivers are optimists so yes, a fair bit worse,” be admits, “But not horrendous. I made a few alterations – the chequer plate back, tuning, ECU remap by Bell Auto services, a turbo boost box, and a really good service. I also made nice chequer plate back for the truck cab.”

“The truck had been lifted but with only springs and dampers meaning the geometry was all out, so with the wish list growing and a few issues arising, it was a question of ‘do I by another or build my own’? Requirements had changed and I needed more room for longer trips, so Countys were considered, but I wanted a TD5 as I liked the engine after the tuning.”

The rear chassis was in pretty back nick...

The rear chassis was in pretty bad nick…


“In the end after much deliberation I thought lets do the truck of my dreams and future proof it with all the bits I want, as we are all different.”

So, armed with his able ‘apprentice’ Gordon in tow, our ambitious Landy Lover set about planning the project and deciding on what will be on his dream Defender – a County with a TD5 engine. Locking diffs, quality suspension, re-bush, overdrive, heated seats and various other mods will all be featuring, but with the remit – no more rust.

Under Andy's bonnet, showing the Defender's TD5 engine.

Under Andy’s bonnet, showing the Defender’s TD5 engine.

So, how much of the old defender is being carried over? “Not as much as I hoped,” James explains, “The original bulkhead has been repaired and galvanized, original front wings, doors and front panels, the bonnet had been changed for the puma already. The engine and gearbox are all good, as I had already done a fair amount on these.”

“There’s also a new rear diff, rear tub and seat box, sides and roof to make the County. I would like to have kept more from the original but it was more cost effective to get replacement.”

This is just the first step down the road to James’ dream Land Rover. Up next – stripping the vehicle down and chassis work. You’ll want to see the galvanised chassis as it looks truly fantastic.

As the build progresses we’ll keep you all upto date on the work so keep checking back for more news.

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