What's the story?
Why on earth might somebody want to put the top half of a Discovery 2 onto the bottom half of a Discovery 1? Well, the answer is to do with rust and biodiesel.
Firstly, as Ryan Mathias, the owner, points out, the chassis on the Discovery 2 rots but the body lasts well – on the Discovery 1 it’s the other way around.
The second factor, biodiesel, is because Ryan and his mate Stephen Bloomfield share a biodiesel plant. Ryan’s Discovery 1’s 300Tdi motor thrived on the stuff, but the body of the vehicle was becoming worse for wear as the tin worm pressed home repeated attacks. An upgrade to a Discovery 2 was definitely on the cards. There was a problem though, as the received wisdom is that the Td5 motors in the D2 don’t really like biodiesel. Sure, they’ll tolerate it, but tales of damaged injectors and in-tank fuel pumps packing up mean that most people shy away from the idea.
Why not have the best of both worlds and combine the two vehicles? He already had a rusty Discovery 1 with good running gear, so all that remained was to buy a Discovery 2 and glue the two together.
At first the basic body swap seems easy, as when you drop it on, the forward four mountings on the Discovery 2 shell line up with the mounts on the earlier chassis, but it soon becomes a far trickier job. The rear body mounts don’t line up, since the back of the early chassis is a wee bit too short. And while you are puzzling that out you’ll need to come up with a plan to get the bumper mountings to line up.
The really scary bit is just beginning , it’s all to do with getting the high-tech Discovery 2 to talk to the low-tech Discovery 1.
Our favourite bit?
There is no real clue to what miracles have been achieved. Even when you jump into the driving seat and set off down the road, it drives like a standard Discovery 2, with maybe a fraction less power, with no fuss or bother – just as if nothing had been done to it. Ironically, it is the lack of anything noticeably different about this hybrid that is the biggest compliment that can be given, Ryan has created a factory-like vehicle and, believe us, that really does take some doing.
And the verdict from LRO writer Jerry Thurston?
‘It’d be stupid not to take advantage of a 90 per cent discount on fuel compared to pump prices if you had the means and a Discovery 2. It follows that a Land Rover guy who owns a biodiesel plant and has bags of enthusiasm and talent should come up with a solution.’
Engine: 2495cc 300Tdi l Transmission: Standard Discovery 1, five-speed manual l Suspension: Standard Discovery 1, coils all round l Steering: Discovery 1/Discovery 2 hybrid system l Wheels: Discovery 2 using adapters on Discovery 1 axles