What's the story?
Before I drove this one, I didn’t really ‘get’ lowered Land Rovers. Why would you want to reduce their off-road capabilities? What do you gain? But, having previously experienced ‘Kermit’, Les Kipling’s motorbike-carburettored V8 off-road beast (LRO, February 2012), I knew that anything he builds is worth the trip to Newton Aycliffe in County Durham to get behind the wheel of this very unusual V8 Ninety. And I’m not disappointed.
Like Kermit’s engine, each cylinder is fed by its own individual carb, so there’s no ‘queuing up’ for the fuel/air mixture – response is instant. With this much fun on tap, sitting a few inches closer to the road on firmer suspension begins to make a lot of sense.
The original engine (possibly a 2.5 diesel) and gearbox had already been replaced with a 3.9 V8 petrol and an R380 ‘box. Somebody had spent a lot of time working on it, but Les stripped it down to a rolling chassis as soon as he got it home. He sold the engine and ’box. He wanted stronger stuff, opting for a mega low-mileage 4.6 V8 and a new-old-stock five-speed Santana gearbox from Witham Specialist Vehicles.
‘Look underneath a Land Rover Ninety and you see this big gap between body and chassis and you think: ‘Without touching anything else, I can lower the vehicle by 2¼in. You just modify the mountings and outriggers.
Our favourite bit?
‘The chassis is pretty standard, but the rear crossmember has a notch to allow the rear door frame to sit 2¼in lower. I cut it 2¼in down and an inch inwards to create a 90° bend so the rear tub ‘slides down’ over the top of the rear crossmember; the floor section is in its original position on original mountings.
And the verdict from LRO writer Mark Saville
The end result convinces me that lowering a Land Rover can make a lot of sense, especially when it’s as much fun to drive as this wolf in sheep’s clothing. Nice job.
Model: 1984 Ninety
Engine: 4.6 V8, eight 40mm Yamaha R1 motorbike carbs with 180 main jets
Transmission: Santana five-speed manual, Discovery transfer box
Axles: 24-spline shafts and diffs
Wheels: L322 Range Rover 18in alloys
Tyres: 235/55R18 Falken Euro Winter
Colour: NATO Light Olive
Suspension: Rally Spares coil overs, 450lb front springs, 550lb rear springs