What’s the story?
Rob’s looking apprehensive – he’s worried I’ll think his Defender isn’t special enough to merit being featured in LRO. I glance briefly at his gleaming black machine – one of the most beautiful Defenders I’ve ever seen – and chuckle inwardly.
We grab a coffee and chat about the Java Black 90 that’s been Rob’s favourite toy since 2006. From the way he talks about his Land Rover it’s blindingly obvious how much he loves it. He isn’t precious about it, though, chucking me the keys within a few minutes of shaking my hand.
Rob’s job – he works on a farm and as a groundsman for the local NHS trust – means the Defender sees a lot of off-road work. And it is spectacularly well-equipped to handle it. Chunky 35x12.50 R15 Cooper STT tyres wrapped around sexy black Mach 5 wheels make sure he keeps rolling in the boggiest of fields, and chequerplate wing-tops, tree and body sliders, and a 10mm-thick steering guard keep all that gleaming paint and the exposed bits safe from any knocks.
Underneath, Range Rover springs give a two-inch lift and a heavy-duty, double-cardan-joint propshaft prevents the front from tying itself into knots; wide-angle universal joints do similar duty on the rear. Further correcting the anomalies that come from a lift are the adjustable Panhard rod and the caster-corrected front radius arms. Double-cranked trailing arms keep the rear angles in check.
Out favourite bit?
Sound-deadening extends to the whole of the rear interior, which is fitted out with smart black carpeting plus nets and hooks to allow for neat storage. And talk about up-to-the minute… he’s even got a USB port back here.
Rob’s love-in with stainless steel extends further than the interior bits, mind. Wherever possible he has replaced rust-prone mild-steel fasteners with their stainless-steel equivalents to prolong their life indefinitely and keep the Land Rover looking smart.
And the verdict from LRO’s Jerry Thurston?
It’s clear that this black beauty will be around for a long time yet. Maybe just as well, given its owner’s aim to keep adding stuff to it.
Model: 2005 Defender 90 hard top
Engine: Td5 with 185bhp Alive upgrades
Paint: Java Black with ‘carbonfibre’-wrapped accents
Transmission: 1.2 ratio Discovery transfer box, heavy-duty wide-angle propshafts
Suspension: Range Rover springs giving two-inch lift, adjustable Panhard rod, caster correction arms front, double cranked rear, Flo-Flex bushes
Steering: Heavy-duty trackrods
Brakes: Drilled, vented discs, EBC Greenstuff brake pads, braided stainless-steel extended brake lines
Wheels & tyres: 35x12.50 R15 Cooper STTs on Mach 5 alloys