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Old 7th May 2011, 10:11   #1
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Default Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Hi Fellow BHPians,

Firstly, it is great to be back on this forum! I have always marveled at the sheer energy levels, enthusiasm, knowledge & versatility of people on this forum- on anything automobile. And I feel privileged sharing my experiences with a group this dynamic.

I have been gone for little less than a year- huddled up in a corner, working diligently on my latest love-of-my-life… a Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi.

In the past few years, I have shared my progression through various stages of 4x4 vehicle restorations on this forum- starting off with an interest in Gurkhas, then graduating on to a 1969 Willys CJ3B which was found in a farm land with little use for the past year, then finding a roadside Land Rover Series I- of 1957 vintage. Left for dead, it was an utterly satisfying experience to bring it back to life. That was followed by the discovery of a shell of a 1974 Land Rover Series III, which was being shown around for a Japanese donar engine, with a recommendation to fit parts of other vehicles to make it road-ready again. I refused, gritted my teeth & went on to find all the original parts, including an original 2.25 liter Land Rover Petrol engine & an original gearbox & transfer case- to get it back on its feet.

And then came an unassuming 1995 Defender... Even by my own count- where I have been deeply in love with these fellas- it wasn’t love at first sight for the Defender. It only grew stronger only as I started to see it seep back to life- from my imagination to a 3 tonne road gripper.
The selection of these vehicles too somehow followed my ever improving understanding levels of various technologies & capabilities. I started off on this journey when my initial enquiry around ‘the most capable off-road vehicle in the country on a shoe-string budget’ yielded the name of Gurkha. I then went on to discover the World War 2 legend, in the form of Willys. I couldn’t find an original low bonnet during those years with my modest budget- so ended up with a CJ3B. It was a thoroughly enjoyable journey, with loads of help from fellow BHPians & a lot of travel across the country to hunt down parts. When I started to ask what to upgrade to- research suggested a brand named Land Rover. With more than 70% of their vehicles ever produced, since 1948, still on road, it was a qualification I couldn’t refuse. Post a Series I, which was more like ‘driving a truck’ in my wife’s language, to a Series III, which was like a monster on road- shrieking past lesser vehicles, I was ready for my next challenge last year mid.

This time, I upped the ask! I sought the names of top few off-road vehicles in the world- of modern day. Four names made their way up, post loads of research again- the world renowned Hummer, the iconic G Class Mercedes, the famous Land Cruiser & the formidable Land Rover Defender. Very different from each other, one was known the world over as the fittest survivor of US Army war efforts, second came from a legendary stable of German cars- aimed at creating the best in class off road vehicle, third was a Japanese answer to the American SUV supremacy- low maintenance, highly driver friendly & luxurious! The fourth one, was none of this… it was, well… hmm… what can I say? I will have to borrow what one of BBC reporters said during their car reviews… “If the world were to come to an end post a nuclear holocaust, two things will survive- one, the cockroach & second, a Land Rover Defender!”
The choice of my next project was getting to become quite simple, really. Considering I didn’t have pockets deep enough to buy a Hummer or a G Class & I already had done two Land Rover restorations in the past 2 years, the choice of a Defender was only natural. A Land Cruiser is still on my bucket list- maybe I will take it up someday. I must also admit that Land Rovers looked a bit more macho, thanks to their leaking roofs & go-anywhere without-giving-a-damn attitude. And it suited my modest budget!

The process hasn’t been easy. Firstly, I realized that I had thoroughly miscalculated the project costs- it wasn’t going to be a modest budget after all! Post getting my hands on a semi white color Defender, which looked more like an ambulance than a world renowned off-roader, I had the job of finding original parts, understanding the technology, locating a garage where I could undertake the work, and of course, funding it. What kept me going was the imaginative end product in my mind that I kept working towards. And to balance all this with a day job & a family that didn’t appreciate my lack of time availability- was tough- to say the least.
But now, I am approaching the last phase of my Defender journey. As I start to test drive the vehicle this week, I thought it is time to bring alive this story on Team BHP- my Alma Mater. After all, what good is this, if I can’t share the exhilarating experience with like minded people who will be able to appreciate the journey?

I will list the details of the work undertaken in subsequent days. For starters, I am listing down the pictorial transformation first- how this monster changed shape over the past year. I am, of course, duly proud- because I managed to keep the promise I made to myself many years back- not to deviate from the manufacturer’s manual in terms of keeping a vehicle stock; even if I used after-market products- they had to be originally made for Land Rover & not a cross pollination of other vehicle donations; not to mutilate them for visual pleasure & lastly to create for the sheer joy of creation & not for commercial reasons!

Now let’s see how the transformation happened… please keep your feedback flowing in, as always!

Cheers,

Abhishek

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Old 7th May 2011, 10:26   #2
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Amazing journey! What a transformation.

Even I have always been enamoured by the Defender and owning one is in bucket list. May be someday when JLR brings them to India.

Will really appreciate you clarifying a few3 queries of mine:
  1. How did you remove the white head to the normal roof. Was the white roof a straight bolt on or did you have to source a donor roof.
  2. Were you able to procure the original parts from India or did you get them shipped from UK/Dubai?
  3. Total project cost if you don't mind.
Cheers
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Old 7th May 2011, 10:27   #3
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

that is gorgeous, i love it how you kept everything oem, where did you find the oem parts in that great condition. im also loving the snorkel mod you did with the intake scoop. this is just mind blowing i love
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Old 7th May 2011, 10:53   #4
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Abhishek,

I bow to thee

Thats a fantastic transformation. A well deserved restoration for a fantastic automobile marque.

I have been ogling over Defenders but buying one has not been in pipeline till Vitamin M grows. I salute your attitude for getting it back to pristine shape. Please share the detailed restoration process with us. There are not many restored defenders on Team BHP. It would be a learning for all of us.
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Old 7th May 2011, 11:02   #5
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

One Word - B R I L L I A N T (restoration)..It looks like she is now way better than she was when she rolled out of the factory.

Detailed pics would be nice !



Cheers
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Old 7th May 2011, 11:39   #6
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek_d_zulu View Post
I am, of course, duly proud- because I managed to keep the promise I made to myself many years back- not to deviate from the manufacturer’s manual in terms of keeping a vehicle stock; even if I used after-market products- they had to be originally made for Land Rover & not a cross pollination of other vehicle donations; not to mutilate them for visual pleasure & lastly to create for the sheer joy of creation & not for commercial reasons!
This is sheer class, Abhishek you have a prized possession in your hands. The above statement of yours made my day. Kudos to this spirit of yours.

Spike
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Old 7th May 2011, 11:49   #7
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Amazing journey! What a transformation.

Even I have always been enamoured by the Defender and owning one is in bucket list. May be someday when JLR brings them to India.

Will really appreciate you clarifying a few3 queries of mine:
  1. How did you remove the white head to the normal roof. Was the white roof a straight bolt on or did you have to source a donor roof.
  2. Were you able to procure the original parts from India or did you get them shipped from UK/Dubai?
  3. Total project cost if you don't mind.
Cheers
In addition to MileCruncher's questions, could you provide some light on the crash guard. It somehow doesn't seem to gel with the front end look, no offense, that's just my opinion. There are much more hefty looking guards available for the defender. Any particular reason for not going in for those?

I almost forgot. Brilliant job there, mate. The boys from Solihull would be proud!
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Old 7th May 2011, 12:04   #8
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Quote:
Originally Posted by i<3turbo View Post
that is gorgeous, i love it how you kept everything oem, where did you find the oem parts in that great condition. im also loving the snorkel mod you did with the intake scoop. this is just mind blowing i love
That is a raised air intake made by Mantec UK the Land Rover specialists. It is designed to fit.

Hey, Abhi congratulations, I think it is about time we went for a drive.
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Old 7th May 2011, 12:52   #9
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Abishek,
Congratulations!
Thats amazing effort in transforming this beauty to its original form. Nothing overdone.
Now you have a great off roader and tourer on hand, wish you many thousand, happy miles.
Regards,
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Old 7th May 2011, 15:08   #10
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Great effort. Reminds me of Lara Croft's Land Rover. Wishing you many many miles of offroading and highway crunching bliss. Go where no vehicle has dared to go.
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Old 7th May 2011, 15:44   #11
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Hi Milecruncher,

Firstly, thanks for your message.

In terms of your queries:
1) Both the white roof & the replacement roof are original LR. The white one came for a limited number of vehicles in mid 90's. I traced one exact replica up for sale in the UK 6 months back. Since I wanted a standard roof, got one from a donor vehicle & replaced it.
2) Yes, few second hand parts were available in India, rest all brought from the UK. Some, like the Alloy Wheels, costed a fortune
3) Well, in terms of project costing- I am still yet to add everything up, plus my list of pending items seems to go on forever. When I finish one, a fresh one replaces it- so it will be a valid question when I call the restoration process quits. For now, must've costed me equivalent of a new high end Scorpio. Frankly, I know it is high, but since I was doing this up for keeps, I didn't mind.

Trust it helps,
AB

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Amazing journey! What a transformation.

Even I have always been enamoured by the Defender and owning one is in bucket list. May be someday when JLR brings them to India.

Will really appreciate you clarifying a few3 queries of mine:
  1. How did you remove the white head to the normal roof. Was the white roof a straight bolt on or did you have to source a donor roof.
  2. Were you able to procure the original parts from India or did you get them shipped from UK/Dubai?
  3. Total project cost if you don't mind.
Cheers
Hi... valid point, frankly the answer is just money. I checked the ARB ones, for example, which come for LR Defender. They were way too expensive. I channelized the money to more important things. I picked up the roof rack, ladder in the back & the front crash guard from a donor Defender. I did them up again, where they were snagging & had them bolted on. When you see the vehicle face to face, you will see that they are really heavily built- mayn't look too macho- but have the mettle.

Secondly, I didn't want a crash guard that went beyond the tip of the bonnet. I had original Land Rover 3D decals brought in from the UK, which would've got hidden behind the crash guard.

But I respect your view- sure, one could do with more well built crash guards. Maybe some day when I save up more...

Cheers,
AB

Quote:
Originally Posted by coloneljasi View Post
In addition to MileCruncher's questions, could you provide some light on the crash guard. It somehow doesn't seem to gel with the front end look, no offense, that's just my opinion. There are much more hefty looking guards available for the defender. Any particular reason for not going in for those?

I almost forgot. Brilliant job there, mate. The boys from Solihull would be proud!
Thank you... the snorkel is original Land Rover. I didn't want to do any mod with snorkels... I only wanted a branded one like Safari or Mantec. I got lucky & could get the original LR one itself. Will post close up pictures later in the day.

Cheers,
AB

Quote:
Originally Posted by i<3turbo View Post
that is gorgeous, i love it how you kept everything oem, where did you find the oem parts in that great condition. im also loving the snorkel mod you did with the intake scoop. this is just mind blowing i love
Posting a few more detailed pictures... in sequence:
1) Original Land Rover Special Vehicle Alloy decal
2) Rear folding front facing seats
3) LR Snorkel
4) Pro Comp 9 inch HID lamps / Superwinch 10,000 Lbs winch
5) Headlight- white xenon bulbs / new indicators / alloy 4x4 decal
6) Original LR Alloy wheels on BF Goodrich All Terrain tyres- 235/70/16
7) After market seats, leather steering
8) Alloy gear knobs / matching dashboard alloys
9) Terrafirma shocks (standard height)
10) Hella fog lamps
11) Carbon fiber finish air intakes
12) Inclinometer
13) & 14) Some more decals
15) New roof finish
16) Rear towing- Nato army hook
17) Original LR Steering guard

Cheers,
Abhishek


Note from mod: Posts merged, please do not use back to back posting. Use the multi quote feature to reply to multiple people
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Last edited by tsk1979 : 7th May 2011 at 17:35. Reason: back to back posts
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Old 7th May 2011, 16:26   #12
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Quote:
Originally Posted by abhishek_d_zulu View Post
For now, must've costed me equivalent of a new high end Scorpio. Frankly, I know it is high, but since I was doing this up for keeps, I didn't mind. AB
The LR looks like it's worth every penny. I'd buy an old LR Defender and do it up rather than buy a new fully loaded Scorpio any day. Not that I have anything against Scorpios, but a tastefully done up old school Defender is a class apart. Mind telling us how much those OE set you back by? What's the current spec of the LR like? I see that it's got a special vehicle badge, can you give us the specifics of that?

I get your point about the crash guard. How did the LR look without the guard altogether? I guess you can tell that I'm not a big fan of the current crash guard . Never mind!

Last edited by coloneljasi : 7th May 2011 at 16:29.
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Old 7th May 2011, 16:42   #13
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Yes- that was my emotion too. But frankly, I didn't expect to spend so much of money... these things have a tendency to keep on growing on you, and you keep on buying things to keep pace with your imagination.

The snorkels start from GBP 70 odd for a Chinese one & go upto 200 plus. But the end cost will include 100 plus pounds on shipping charges.

Will share the evolution story, with technical details of Defender shortly...

Yes- I did think of not using a crash guard, but too much equipment is loaded up front, so some sort of safety mechanism is desireable.

My next project, which I have already started on, is a Defender 90. I will make that completely simple... hopefully, you will like that one.

Cheers,
AB




Quote:
Originally Posted by coloneljasi View Post
The LR looks like it's worth every penny. I'd buy an old LR Defender and do it up rather than buy a new fully loaded Scorpio any day. Not that I have anything against Scorpios, but a tastefully done up old school Defender is a class apart. Mind telling us how much those OE set you back by? What's the current spec of the LR like? I see that it's got a special vehicle badge, can you give us the specifics of that?

I get your point about the crash guard. How did the LR look without the guard altogether? I guess you can tell that I'm not a big fan of the current crash guard . Never mind!
Hi All,

Here is a link to wikipedia, which tells us about the Land Rover Defender evolution...must read for any LR fan.

Land Rover Defender - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As for this specific vehicle, here are the technical specifications:

Performance & Engine
Engine Size- 2495cc
Aspiration- Direct injection, Turbo Charged, intercooled
4 cylinders
Max speed- 140 km/hr (speedometer)
(did go to 120 last week without a sweat, post which I chickened out)
Fuel type- Diesel
Gearbox- R380 model, 5 forward, 1 reverse, all synchromesh

Weights & Measures
Gross weight- 3050 kgs (Weight of equipment extra)

Towing weights
Unbraked trailers- 750 kg
4 wheel trailers with coupled brakes- 4000 kgs

Off road capability
Suspension- Coil springs controlled by telescopic dampers- front & rear (used Terrafirma ones to improve handling)
Axle - Front- fully floating shafts with 32 degrees angularity
Power steering
Turning radius- 44 ft (phew!)
Disc brakes
Max gradient- 45 degrees
Approach angle 50 degrees
Departure angle 35 degrees
Wading depth (standard)- 20 inches (need to check post putting the snorkel)
Minimum ground clearance- 8.5 inches
Permanent 4 wheel drive

Others
3 Door
Seats 8 comfortably
Currently installing airconditioning / was apparently taken off by previous owner
Original tyres come in 235/85/16 (couldn't find this size in India)
Currently has single battery. Has provision to fit two.
Fuel tank- currently single with capacity of 89 ltrs. Has provision to fit an extra tank too.
Vehicle length- 181 inches
Width- 70.5 in
Height- 80.1 (roof rack extra)

Thanks so much... for everyone's viewing pleasure, attached Lara Croft's Land Rover Defender picture & a small write-up...

[FONT=Arial]Lara Croft's “Tomb Raider” vehicle is based on a high-capacity pickup version of the Defender 110 – a Defender with a 110-inch wheelbase – that has been specially modified by Land Rover Special Vehicles in conjunction with Paramount Pictures. Bonatti Gray in color with aluminum tread plates and bumpers, this unique, open-top Defender is fitted with a "Heritage"-type grille and four Safari driving lights mounted on the front of the roof rack. Extra accessories to aid Lara in her adventures include an expedition tool kit, fender-mounted shovel and axe, winches at the front, rear and sides, a dash-mounted notebook computer, a GPS navigation system, a GSM telephone and emergency kill buttons.[/FONT]


Quote:
Originally Posted by V-16 View Post
Great effort. Reminds me of Lara Croft's Land Rover. Wishing you many many miles of offroading and highway crunching bliss. Go where no vehicle has dared to go.
On the point of special vehicle badge- these badges come on vehicles that are produced by the factory on special request. Could be just about any specifications- which deviates from the standard product. LR has a Special Vehicle Unit, which works on creating these with the customers.

Cheers,
AB


Quote:
Originally Posted by coloneljasi View Post
The LR looks like it's worth every penny. I'd buy an old LR Defender and do it up rather than buy a new fully loaded Scorpio any day. Not that I have anything against Scorpios, but a tastefully done up old school Defender is a class apart. Mind telling us how much those OE set you back by? What's the current spec of the LR like? I see that it's got a special vehicle badge, can you give us the specifics of that?

I get your point about the crash guard. How did the LR look without the guard altogether? I guess you can tell that I'm not a big fan of the current crash guard . Never mind!
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Last edited by tsk1979 : 7th May 2011 at 17:34. Reason: back to back posts
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Old 7th May 2011, 20:23   #14
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Hi AB

Indeed a wonderful job, I haven't seen many of these on roads but the roof rack somehow does not suite maybe in old times it was a novelty but you will find this similar to Maxi cab designs - did you checked how it looked without this or maybe a smaller one - its looking quite Top Heavy , regarding Font Crash Guard you can get the manufactured at reasonable costs by mixing designs ..

Quote:
I picked up the roof rack, ladder in the back & the front crash guard from a donor Defender. I did them up again, where they were snagging & had them bolted on
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Old 8th May 2011, 00:12   #15
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Default Re: Land Rover Defender 300 Tdi- a transformation story

Indeed a brilliantly restored/kept LR. It was just a few hours that I spotted a LR Defender in the same avatar as yours in German roads. The guy cranked it in front of me, and man, I couldn't believe my ears, what a sound of that engine. And at that time I just felt how contented that man was driving a superb machine. And right now I see the same contentment in you with your defender. Happy Defending man.
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