On the road again, plus Defender rebuilds

Apologies – its been a busy couple of months. Having flown back to the UK I then got my head round various Defender conversions….

As a recap – my much-loved Defender 110 “Elsa” has just rolled over 400,000 miles, and I feel I owe her a rebuild. For years I’ve been toying with stretching her to a 130 as she’s a hardtop, and two seats often isn’t enough. Anyway I bit the bullet and pulled the trigger (to mix metaphors) a year ago and the results are starting to appear.

I bought a donor 130 crewcab, and Ben Stowe at Black Paw 4×4 removed the body panels, safari gear and whole rear body from Elsa’s 110 chassis and grafted the whole lot onto the 130 chassis, meanwhile swapping the cab and front body onto the 110 chassis, and adding a new pickup rear tub and hood sticks. The final stage will be swapping Elsa’s number plate onto the 130 chassis and asking DVLA for a new age-related number plate for the 110.

And so the question must be asked – where does the identity of a vehicle lie? In its chassis? Engine? dashboard? Number plate? External appearance?

Years ago I drove a well-known 110 through Kenya and Tanzania – “Maggie”, which left the UK as a 90 and had a chassis stretch (and therefore a whole body change) to a 110 on Nairobi. Yet she is still Maggie. I don’t really know the answer to that question!

At any rate. I’m now left with two Defenders.

This is the 110 soft top “Nightingale” – about three weeks ago on her shakedown cruise to the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. New bullbar and winch to be fitted soon, and correct registration plate. Driving a soft top Defender is exhilarating!

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And this is “Elsa”, the 130 Longtail – again, about three weeks ago, at Black Paw in York. Bullbar, winch and engine mods still to happen, but you get the general idea. Mug of tea is not negotiable 😀 She will be ready very soon, with a shakedown run at Christmas.

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Not forgotten by any means is Tusker, the Discovery 2. With most of her overland travel gear stripped off her and put on Nightingale and Elsa she is now faster and better on fuel, and has been doing sterling work around and about recently!

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At any rate – the last few weeks have been a) to the Outer Hebrides and b) to Zimbabwe (and my Series One, the Black Pearl). Both need posts of their own….!

 

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