What's the story?
Rob Parker of RJP Land Rover Rebuilds grew up with Land Rovers, and was doing the maintenance on his dad’s Series III from an early age. The next step was to build his own, which he’d done by the age of 19.
Later, now working for his dad’s tool hire business, they added Land Rover parts to their services after the local supplier changed hands. Before long, customers were bringing in their Land Rovers for all sorts of general work – replacing chassis, engine repairs and even rebuilds. But Rob likes to push the boundaries a bit too, so he started building ‘improved’ Land Rovers.
Nobody with the slightest interest in Land Rovers could walk past this one. Rob found a 1993 Defender 200Tdi with a rotten chassis. And immediately started spending money. First port of call was a galvanized chassis from Marsland. Then came a brand-new TDCi bulkhead, followed by a TDCi dash from a breaker.
The problems began when measuring up the TDCi dash conversion. ‘The TDCi bulkhead incorporates part of the transmission tunnel,’ Rob explains. ‘It wouldn’t fit neatly so I had to build a new, genuine TDCi seatbox to go with it.’ After that the problems got even bigger, the Tdi gearlevers didn’t fit, which meant moving the gearlevers and the heater blower and controls.
With everything in the right places and connected, thoughts began to turn to final specification and finish. The Tdi’s seats were re-upholstered in leather, which was also used for parts of the dashboard and door cards.
Our favourite bit?
The wheels are genuine Sawtooth items from Land Rover, painted to match the roof by a specialist who’s used to dealing with classic Ferraris and Bentleys, so the end result is predictably jaw-dropping. You can’t help but stop and stare.
And the verdict from LRO writer Peter Galilee?
‘Rob isn’t aiming to compete with the likes of Twisted or Overfinch – let’s face it, for all the beauty of the thing, it’s still an old Tdi Defender with some new bits. But new Defenders won’t be available soon, and then eventually all showstopper upgrades like this will have to be on used vehicles. However, with a starting price of £20,000, there may be busy times ahead for Rob.’
Engine: 200Tdi with full-width Allard intercooler
Transmission: Five-speed manual, two-speed transfer box
Dash: TDCi with Tdi instrument clusters
Wheels: Land Rover X-Tech Sawtooth alloys
Bodywork: TDCi bulkhead, seatbox, bonnet.