At the first-ever King of the Glens Ultra 4 off-road race, held in Perthshire in May, Team Gigglepin’s totally rebuilt Defender-based challenge truck annihilated the opposition. Gigglepin owner Jim Marsden, co-driven by Mark Birch, finished almost three-and-a-half hours clear of the field on the event, which was unbelievably boggy in places. To put that result in context, there were less than three hours between second place and the back of the field.
It was a great achievement for the team that had considered selling the Defender – the truck that took them to the 2013 King of the Hammers in the US: ‘Last season we had a couple of events that didn’t turn out quite the way we wanted them,’ says Jim, ‘so, despite some serious enquiries for the car in its old form, we decided to totally repurpose it.’
The idea was to make it lighter, longer, more powerful and with a lower centre of gravity, to compete with the new breed of racers emerging across Europe and the US. So it’s now got a 600bhp Chevrolet LS3 V8 instead of 5.0-litre Rover V8 power, and Fox dampers.
The new Richards chassis, despite being 4in longer than its predecessor (now 104in), is 80kg lighter; and the Odyssey battery count has been dropped from three to two. Thanks to some clever electrickery it can run 24v without an extra alternator, giving further weight savings.
Then there are Spidertrax axles, 17in Raceline wheels, Allisport radiators, and a prototype six-speed gearbox developed by Quaife…
It still looks like a Defender – if you squint – but it’s sleeker, squatter and more purposeful.
Jim has already pencilled in the next race. ‘It has to be the awesome Breslau Rally. There’s nothing else quite like it, and we have some unfinished business there!’
Follow the team’s progress at gigglepin4x4.net.