The Car

So this is the boring bit for everyone except Land Rover lovers; the car.

Land Rover expedition/overland truck

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

Air con


Extra Spotlights

Waco Fridge

Overland tent

Hannibal awning

Twin rear wheel carriers

Underbody protection

Tree sliders

New front seats in Exmoor trim ‘outlast’ fabric.


  • The engine also had a few tweaks;

New intercooler (made a massive difference)

Uprated fuel pump

EGC blanked

Performance airfilter

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.

Also behind the fridge are a pair of speakers, to give us that surround sound feel!

The orginal front seats were replaced with Outlast fabric ones from Exmoor Trim and are excellent. Far more comfortable and you don’t sweat nearly as much as you do in Land Rover vinyl ones.

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.

  1. Paul Bryson says:

    you could have at least put an Irish Ferries ‘UK’ sticker on the back 🙂

    • Petter says:

      Sweet vehicle indeed. Say, who makes that canopy? Looking at options for my own 130 and I really like this one.

      Best regards,

  2. Mum "Maple" says:

    Hi Guys

    Can’t quite take it all in that you have actually started the trip. Exciting stuff. After being actively involved in a very small part of the preparation has been great – looking for “washing machines”, exploring Army surplus stores, trying to impress and come up with that “essential” item you have forgotten (I still think welly boots will be missed somewhere along the trip) and Dad’s skills as “locksmith” being called upon, it has been good fun.

    Keep in touch – we will be checking the blog constantly as you can guess.

    Any comforting words from previous trekkers to Oz for the traveller’s Mums and Dads would be appreciated.

    Have fun – take loads of pics. Miss you M x

  3. Pedro Santos says:

    Hi there,

    Fantastic Land Rover you got there. I’ll be following your trip and sharing your updates with other Land Rover fans like me…

    No worries Mum “Maple”, that Land Rover will take good care of them and if they ever have any need of assistance I know that the thousands of Land Rover enthusiasts around the World will rush in their aid in any part of the World.

    All the best,

  4. Paul says:

    What did you do to retrofit air conditioning ?

  5. Gareth says:

    What a cracking vehicle!! I’ve been trawling the shows and the internet for inspiration for my 110 overlander and you guys have really done your homework on this truck. You see so many Landy’s in the comics which have had far too much bling added but this looks great and is clearly fit for purpose. Well done guys, have a great trip and stay safe!

  6. Mum "Maple" says:

    Hi Guys – Just cleaned out the local Co-op supply of Land Rover International magazines and am now starting on W H Smith’s supply. Great article – your own “5 minutes of fame”. Well done. V proud. Still miss you both though! – thanks Pedro for comforting words. Take care M x

  7. Michiel Siegers says:

    Hi overlanders,

    Saw the article about your trip in LRO. I am soooo jealous….. I myself have just before the summer holidays aquired a 110 that is allready overland prepared. It has been to Africa and back with the previous owner. But I can’t see us going on an overland trip any time soon. But we have the car and will make plenty of short trips untill we can go on the big one.

    Love your choice of destination. Something else then SA.

    Will be following you. Hope you post plenty of pics.

    Have a lot of fun and stay safe…


  8. Nick Jackson says:

    Hi Simon and Megan
    Hope all is well with you both and your enjoying the experience now it’s for real!
    We have just got back from our own European de-bugging trip in our Defender 130 (Winnie). We had a great time and learnt at lot about our Winnie who behaved very well and the equipment that was not so co-operative.
    We are planning to ship Winnie to Australia in February 2011 (we needed an easier option at our time of life) and will spend 12 months touring Aus.
    Would you let me know which extended range fuel tanks you have used? This is the only major upgrade still outstanding and I am undecided which one to plum for. You 80 ltr would really do the job.

    Best regards and keep safe
    Nick & Carole

    • Doug S says:

      Hi Nick,

      This is probably substantially late but if you are still looking for long range tanks there is a company in australia called “Long Ranger” that make many for the Land Rover. I’m actually looking at getting two for a Defender 130 combined they will give me 200 litres of fuel.

      Incidentally if you are already in Australia and haven’t popped into Adelaide then be sure to look me up. I would be very much in getting advice on my own LR and trip plus we have a spare bed and beer (wine)

      Doug (Formerly London)

  9. James-Sahara-2012 says:

    What a great beast you have made well done guys, i am sure you are having a great trip. We are heading to West Africa in our Disco 2 in 2012 (some may say strange choice of vehicle!) and just started work on it this week.
    I wish we had a defender as can do so much more with them like you guys have done, but hey ho its bought now and at least i might save a few quid with what we cant do to ‘The Major!’ You conversion is top notch i love the wardrobe section!
    All the best

    PS anyone want to offer some advice on what to do to a disco 2 for trip prep feel free to email me

  10. archibal3 says:

    hello simon
    you have a nice land rover
    whitch best equipement

    archi 😉

  11. David Jones says:

    hey nice wheels you lot!.my ex southern 130 is three digits off of yours on the reg,she won’t let you down!.good luck….

  12. Jason says:

    very nice 130. sorry we missed you on the way through canberra. we did a trip from london to canberra a few years ago with a 1993 pajero – cost us 3000 pounds. so dont let the cost of this beauty put you off. it can be done for a lot less.

  13. says:

    parabens precisa viajar pelo brasil

  14. Mattias Waller says:

    Hi guys!
    Like what you done to the Landy!
    Me an my wife + two kids drove from Stockholm to Cape town last winter, fantastic trip! And now we really got the overland bug 🙂 and are planing for next trip. Thru Africa we had a 110 300 tdi, but are now thinking of getting som more space, 130!!
    So my question to you is what kind of Canopy that’s mounted on your vehicle, and the dubble swing away wheel carrier, home made or what??
    Reagards Mattias

  15. Mitch says:

    what brand is the rear swing away carrier please?

    • simon maple says:

      Sorry I never replied, didn’t realise people were still looking at the Blog

      It was a one off made by Douglass Motors in dorset. Google them for contact details

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