What's the story?
Designing your own Land Rover overlander to suit your needs and ambitions can be a huge responsibilty. Decisions that you may have made months - maybe even years - before the project is finished can only really be tested fully in the field. That 'field' may be the other side of the world, so you need to make the right choices. Heather and Keith Parkinson from Bedfordshire, creators of this superb overland-equipped 110, certainly got it right with this one.
Using the experiences they gained from their first overlander - a 300Tdi 110 - that took them on expeditions to the Alps, the Massif Central and Normandy, the couple were ready to build a new vehicle.
Safari-Equip installed a bespoke stainless steel water tank (for which space was created by removing the second-row seats), the Big Country external lockers, rock sliders, a rear-wing auxiliary fuel tank and a custom-made spare wheel carrier with a high-lift-jack mount.
But one question was taking up a lot of the Parkinsons' time - which roof tent to buy? They spent a day at a Land Rover show testing every roof tent they could find for robustness and ease of operation. They chose an AutoHome Maggoilina Safari XL, which can be put up in 15 seconds.
It was time to get some mileage on the clock and see how everything worked, so they signed up for the 2011 Mac 4x4 event, which included a leg in Ireland.
All their modifications appeared to work fine, but the Irish mist revealed a weakness with the standard lighting; the white Defender all but disappeared in the murk. This was solved by fitting LED lights all-round, including a pair of £900 headlights.
With the 110 fully loaded, Keith set about modifying the suspension to accommodate the extra weight. All four dampers were replaced with Old Man Emus and the rear springs were upgraded.
They've since visited the Orkneys, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland. After each trip they've made minor changes. Keith admits there's one structural element he'd have designed differently. 'I should have included a fold-out table in the racking system for lunch stops.' He also says he should have fitted Wolf rims when replacing the wheels as they'd be more appropriate given the weight of the vehicle.
Our favourite bit?
Inspired by the racking systems they'd seen in vehicles in Morocco, they decided to use Safari-Equip to build one for them. The company's Adrian and Tom listened carefully to the brief; and by the time the Parkinsons delivered the Defender to Safari-Equip's Bradford workshop, there was already a cardboard mock-up of the rack so they could check out the design before it was made.
And the verdict from LRO writer Russ Brown?
I took it for a spin around country roads and was surprised by how well it handled. There's a bit more body roll than on a standard 110 - hardly surprising given the 75kg of tent on the roof. It feels slightly sluggish going up hills but Keith is considering having the 2.4 TDCi engine chipped to compensate for the vehicle's extra weight.
Engine: 2.4-litre TDCi Puma l Transmission: Ford MT82 Getrag 6-speed l Suspension: Standard front springs + 500kg rear springs, Old Man Emu dampers l Wheels & tyres: Modular steel, 235/85 BF Goodrich All Terrains