What's the story?
One-off, custom-built vehicles are, by definition, unique. This uniqueness often translates into an eye-popping challenge to the senses.
Land Rover spends millions developing its vehicles. Every inch is considered, every characteristic is defined and controlled. At first glance, this brutal -looking monster crouching in the workshop looks like the complete opposite; but you'd be wrong, very wrong.
Okay, it didn't costs millions, probably closer to £10k if you don't include labour, but just like Land Rover's designers, Dave Harding, from Hailsham in Sussex, made thousands of decisions and choices while hand building his ideal off-road toy; nothing was left to chance.
So, what precisely has Dave created? What you're looking at is a rejuvenated Range Rover Classic chassis fitted with running gear sourced from a single Disco 1, which donated the 3.9EFi V8, five-speed manual 'box, both axles, cab floor and bulkhead. Dave bent and welded the tubular frame and body panels. Despite appearances, the only Defender parts are the bonnet, windscreen and its frame.
For Dave, the purpose of building something like this is as much about the pleasure of creating something as the end result. 'I built it as a true off-road toy that could do anything, really.'
So how was it built? 'I bought a Range Rover Classic, with the idea of building a space-frame vehicle to do trialling. I shortened the rear end of the chassis, removing the rear body mounts.
'The chassis was actually pretty good, better than the chassis under the V8 Discovery manual I bought next, so I used the Classic chassis with the Discovery running gear. Apart from the dash panel up to the windscreen and the floor pan, everything else from the Disco went in the skip.
'Ive fitted Terrafirma 4x4 two-inch lift Defender 90-spec suspension, including steering damper and relocation cones on the back axle. It has Flo-Flex comfort bushes all-round, standard-spec brake pads but with drilled and grooved solid discs all-round. I fitted wheel arches simply because I didn't want to get covered in mud.
'The mud guards, and all the flat bodywork, roof and scuttle, are made from Zintec sheet steel, which has a thin coating of rust-resistant zinc, and sprayed with Raptor coating; a polyurethane load-bed protect material that also has sound-deadening qualities and looks really cool too.
'I assembled the rolling chassis in my garage at home, but I built the cage on a donor Disco chassis at the workshop; the bulkhead and floorpan are all welded in as part of the cage. The larger tubing is 2in CDS (seamless cold drawn steel) and the smaller stuff is 1 1/4in CDS. '
Our favourite bit?
The on-road ride is very comfortable, compared to a 90 or 110. I think Dave's got the suspension set up just right. It's much less pitchy than a 90, and the V8 exhaust note is definitely there when you provoke it, but not intrusive when you're just pootling along.
And the verdict from LRO writer Mark Saville
Clambering into the passenger seat is a bit of a wriggle for the shorter reporter but the Kubuta mini-tractor handles (on the frame, not me) certainly help.
Once safely aboard, the rally seats are much more accommodating than the usual bucket varieties. The seating position feels extremely car-like with a great view out, especially to the sides, which are completely open to the elements.
Once we reach the off-road loaction the mud starts to fly as the revs increase, and our grins broaden. We both have reason to be thankful for the effectiveness of the mud flaps.
Dave has definitely met his own briedf, to build a practical, fun off-roader.
Engine: 3.9EFi V8
Power: 182bhp at 4750rpm
Torque: 231lb ft at 2600rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Suspension: Terrafirma 4x4, +2in Defender 90
Chassis: Range Rover Classic
Tyres: Kumho Road Venture MT 721 31x10.5
Wheels: 15in rims with -32mm offset, increases track with no loss of turning lock
Winches: Winchmax 13,000lb front and back
Seats: OMP Rally FIA-rated
Fuel tank: Aluminium, 75-litre