So this is the boring bit for everyone except Land Rover lovers; the car.
I spent a lot of time deciding on what car we should take, a lot of time, but in the end, having a bit of a soft spot for Land Rovers I chose to go with a Defender 130.
The reasons for this:
Cheap (ish) to buy and for the Carnet.
Massive storage area and still space for 4 persons.
Easy to fix. (as no doubt it will have to be at some stage)
Massive array of bolt on items for overlanding and camping.
Tis well cool! (actually one young scamp called it ‘sick’ the other day, which I think means cool in today speak.)
Once the decision was made on the car so the long long task of trying to find one began. Actually it only took me 2 hours, 4 cups of tea, a jaffa cake, a little bit of luck, as well as getting slightly distracted and bidding on a Mk 2 Golf to find one on ebay. My model was an ex Scottish Power Defender 130 on sale at Douglass Motors in Wimbourne, Dorset. It cost me around seven grand to buy and in my naivety I thought it would only cost me another seven to prepare for the trip. Until you actually do one of these trips you never know how much they will cost you. In fairness to Marcus Douglass, of Douglass Motors (wonder how long it took to come up with that name), an eyebrow was raised when I mentioned my budget and some sharp sucking of air through teeth when I also mentioned all the exciting plans I had for the Defender
Needless to say the final figure was nowhere near seven grand, in fact it was nearer thirty. Those of you reading this and thinking of your own trip need not panic just yet, you don’t need to spend thirty and to be honest I got a bit carried away at times. Coupled with the fact that during the preparation time I was working away a lot most of the work was carried out by Douglass Motors, which meant getting the garage to prepare the car, never a cheap option, and a lot of money could have been saved by doing the long fiddly jobs myself had I the time. The upshot is that I got a professionally prepared Land Rover and Marcus got to send his kids to private school.
The defender seemed to be in good nick and kicking the tyres, which seems to be the done thing by Land Rover owners, seemed to suggest that it would be up for the adventure. It had around 210,000 miles on the clock but had a new engine installed around 60,000 miles ago. By the time we go it will of also have had a new:
- Gear box, as the old one is scattered across the auto route just outside Calais,
- Fuel injection pump- the old one injected more fuel into the engine bay than the engine
- Alternator (the old one fell off)
- Radiator (the old one had more holes in it than St Andrews old course)
- Water pump, which hadn’t broken yet but I felt sure it would was just toying with me and would throw in the towel as soon as my back was turned. I replaced it before it broke, which I also think sent a strong message to the rest of the engine bay.
All the above items were found wanting after a number of ‘trial trips’ which we did last year and this Easter. One of the most important things I would say is to thoroughly test your car before the big off. We would only have covered about 30 miles before tears and tantrums if we hadn’t done this.
The modification list is quite extensive and I’ll be the first to admit you don’t need all this stuff- some bits were just bought because they looked shiny;
BF Goodrich All Terrains (285/85)
TJM 1.5’ lift
Heavy duty half shalfs
Warn powerplant Winch
ARB style front bumper
Extra fuel tank under driver’s side (80 liters)
Extra water tank under passenger side (80 liters)
Stainless steal exhaust
Twin rear wheel carriers
New front seats in Exmoor trim ‘outlast’ fabric.
- The engine also had a few tweaks;
New intercooler (made a massive difference)
Uprated fuel pump
All the engine mods made the car a lot more drivable and it can sit at a steady 70mph all day long. However, if you do this it will only do 20mpg so a more sedate 60mph makes for a quieter ride, fatter wallet and it’s not as terrifying when you have to stop quickly.
Here are photos and details of the back of the landrover, exciting stuff. Megan’s Grandfather being handy with wood and a jigsaw fitted the back out for us with standard marine ply. He did an amazing job and we can’t thank him enough. There are two side lockers and the main compartment in the back is shelved to fit 6 boxes. There are also 3 small lockers cut into the side panels which maximise every inch of usable space.
Both side panels open, after a bit of mild swearing and tugging, and we had shelving fitted. The photo below is of the kitchen side. We originally consulted an Ikea kitchen designer but ultimately decided against the granite work surface and fitted teak cupboards.
I made the little shelf that sticks onto the side of the car, I’m very proud of it and in my mind it is probably the best thing about the car, way better than the netting idea Megan came up with. The next photo is of the clothing side; it has been split into three so we each have a section for clothes and at the end is a hanging section which makes a great use of the space. Kevin McCloud would be proud.
Now for the interior of the cab: We moved the original front seats to the back and replaced the rear bench seat with them. Above the two back seats we put up an elasticated net which works really well and is great for storing hats, coats and jumpers that are used everyday. Between the two back seats is our fridge; it’s great in this position as you can get to it whilst driving and it gives anyone in the back an arm rest.
We also fitted an Outback roof consul to the cab. Again, it’s been great as it provides much better light inside the car and also extra storage, and you can never get enough of that.