About a year ago I bought a 1994 NAS (North American-spec) 90 from a Californian who had heavily modified it for off-road use.
By the time I got it, it had been rolled over, the bulkhead was bent and the chassis had been modified for an aftermarket coil-over suspension set-up. On top of all that, it had been partly dismantled for modification and repairs but never put back together. Since Defender 110 station wagons are hard to come by in the US, I thought this 90 would be a perfect candidate to convert into a 110 since I'd have to replace so much of it anyway.
I started with a brand-new galvanised Marsland chassis from the UK that was set up for a V8. I also found an RoW (rest of the world) 110 five-door wagon body, here in the US, as a source for many of the parts I'd need.
I bought a 1998 Discovery and pulled out the GEMS 4.0-litre V8 and turned it into a 4.6-litre, which meant completely rebuilding it. I swapped over the engine management system to GEMS as the 90 originally came with the 14CUX system.
It's definitely a less archaic, superior set-up. I'm very lucky that my older brother is a Land Rover master technician: I've run into a few snags that I couldn't have got through without his help!
It now has everything I want in a Defender, including a 4.6-litre V8, automatic transmission, air conditioning and a galvanised chassis. I also did some more minor midifications, such as installing a plastic fuel tank from a T5 110, rebuilding the Salisbury axle from Great Basin Rovers, and fitting a Mantec spare tyre carrier. I also opted for classic mods such as fitting a 24-spline front axle with newly rebuilt calipers, new discs and pads.
I played it safe by bolting on Old Man Emu springs that I got powdercoated red, along with Old Man Emu Nitrocharged Sport shocks. Also, I chose to fit a 1:1.2 transfer box because of the V8 and largre wheels. Then I fitted Terrafirma rock sliders with tree bars and corner guards.
On the cosmetic front, I chose Land Rover's Willow Green metallic paint, along with alloy wheels wrapped by 265/75 R16 BF Goodrich KM2 mud tyres.
Lastly, I worked on the interior, installing a Td5 dash along with the factory aircon, a Sony audio system with front and rear speakers, a new speedometer and a Tuffy locking metal centre console that I modified to incorporate the gearlever.
I've been restoring and modifying Land Rovers for years and I think this is the nicest one I've had yet.
Originally featured in the April 2015 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
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