Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Land Rover to be proud of

I don't post a lot of automotive stuff here on the Look Me in the Eye blog, but I am known as a machine aficionado, so I guess I can do it sometimes . . .

A year and a half ago, this tired red Land Rover Defender crawled into our shop. The gas tank was rotted out of the frame in back, the floors had holes, and the whole thing was just whipped and tired. However, the owner had a vision . . .



This was a long job. It was like restoring an old house. Every layer you peeled off left another layer of rot and corrosion to remove. Eventually, there was nothing left but a pile of parts. The truck was totally stripped to its component parts.

And then the reassembly started. Some parts got cleaned, some were overhauled, and a few were remade. Many little bits were replaced. Some key pieces were no longer available, or we didn't like the stock part, so we made new parts to suit our vision.

Today, I drove it back to his farm in upstate New York. It’s one of the nicest Land Rover projects we’ve ever done. Here’s the restored Defender, its owner, and me



Looking at this next shot, you can see that it’s totally new underneath. We took the truck completely to pieces, and rebuilt it onto a new galvanized frame. The suspension, steering, brakes . . . it’s all new. Everything was painted or finished and then assembled, which gives a look you just can’t get any other way.

We installed the Bilstein shocks, skid plates, diff guards, and some basic off-road gear but otherwise the truck remains pretty stock.



He was tired of the red, so we chose Coniston Green for the new color. We’re actually doing quite a few Defenders over in this same shade now.

In front, you can see the bumper we made . . . it looks stock but mounts a Warn winch. And we took the stock bull bar and lifted and reinforced it to stand above the winch.



We fitted a heated windshield, and the bigger mirrors. We also made some new front lights. You'll also see some custom rock sliders under the sills, and we've started using the new corrosion proof (dare I say that on a British car?) door hinges.


At the rear, we took a second frame cross member, and made it into a step bumper. Very nice job, if I do say so myself. And lest you think I am bragging about my own work . . . I’m not. This truck is 100% the result of Paul, Jeremy, Joe and the other guys in the Robison Service Land Rover shop. I may supply some kind of creative vision, and I jab and prod to keep them moving, but this beautiful work is all theirs.



And you can't miss the Badger top. Chris and his guys do really great work. Their Land Rover tops are really the best.

Here's a "better than new" interior view: You can't see it in this photo, but we built new seats, and fitted a Tuffy center console with the latest Alpine stereo, iPod control, and Sirius radio. We even thought to use Sony marine speakers in the doors, knowing you can't ever make a Defender water tight.



The inside is all lined with the Dynamat sound deadening panels. Boy, do they make a difference! This thing is still loud, but all the high pitched whine, and all the engine compartmetn noise is gone. In addition, the noise of gravel spray on the underbody has vanished. Very nice.

This is one really fine Defender! I was sorry I couldn't keep it for my own . . . Now, I want to restore my own ex-Army truck just like this one. Or maybe a bit better. If that's possible.

16 comments:

Jan said...

Your whole team must be proud of what they have accomplished. I am sure the owner was thrilled. Your love of these vehicles shows through. Next time, a picture of the group might be fun to share - like the pictures of your support people in NYC.

What a gorgeous piece of property. Perfect for that kind of vehicle. Did you get to do any off roading with him - a kind of test drive to put it through the paces? They all should have marine speakers. - and ipod control. You thought of everything, as usual.

I did pass a Unimog on my way home yesterday - right on 291 in Springfield, MA, not far from your shop. I was only hoping that it was heading your way!

Polly Kahl said...

That is REALLY gorgeous! Congrats to you and your shop for a job well done!

Jill Elaine Hughes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jill Elaine Hughes said...

way cool. Does it have a Diesel engine (like most British LRs do), or a gasoline one? I once waited tables part-time on weekends with a guy who repaired LRs through the week. He said as long as they were trying to make US-based LRs run on gasoline, he'd never be out of work!

John Elder Robison said...

Jill, this particular truck has the original US market V8 gas engine. We've done them with diesels too.

My own Defender is a military 2.5 diesel.

Melanie Avila said...

Very cool!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Ahhhh. Boys and their toys.

What the heck is a winch?

Strange Behaviour said...

Eh... the car jargon is mostly alien to me. But the end result of all that work is spectacular.

One day I'll get my car pimped-out.

Chumplet said...

I can just see that piece of perfection bopping across the Serengeti. Beautiful job!

The Anti-Wife said...

Not sure I understood most of what you said, but the transformation is dramatic. Well done!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I'll have to send those pix to the husband. We have a giant jeep and while I don't know what all the parts are, all the stuff you listed sound awfully familiar...

Real jeeps are built, not made. Seems the same with Rovers.

Rock and Roll Mama said...

John,
That's a beauty! Love the racing green.

I know nothing of the workings of cars, but I know a pretty shiny thing in all its glory, and that's one.

Holly Kennedy said...

If my husband saw this post he'd be drooling. What that man wouldn't give for this kind of machine. Guess I'd better write a few bestsellers fast, huh?

sucurlyj said...

I am a special education teach from Long Island, who happened to stumble on your book through a teacher inservice course this summer, and definately could not put it down because it was so insightful, I think. Your blog is now a part of my favorites! I would love to come here you speak...when are you going to be in the NYC Metro area? I am a part of SEPTA (Special Education Parten Teacher Association) in my school district and once a year we usually have a speaker/presenter and I think it would be amazing if you could come join us! I have to do some investigating once school starts up again in like 2 wks...

Thank you for sharing your story through your book, and for your blog! I love the pictures you took for your last post, I have recently gotten back into photography now that I have time to enjoy a hobby again.
Jess Escaravage
ps. I am on myspace as well! I saw that you were on someone else's blog!

Sustenance Scout said...

WOW, your crew does beautiful work. Hope the drive was a nice one! K.

Sustenance Scout said...

WOW, your crew does beautiful work. Hope the drive was a nice one! K.