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Project Winton – Making our Ultimate Defender

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

January 28, 2011

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year
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Our Defender is the test bed for every review product, greenlane trip and the like. It is only fitting that we take good care of him, starting with a rolling restoration / re-build. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the idea is to rebuild / restore the vehicle whilst keeping it road worthy. Obviously, some parts such as chassis swaps may take longer, but our ultimate goal is always have the Landy ready to roll when we need it. A Defender is really the only vehicle we'd ever consider spending what is undoubtedly going to be such a large budget on. No, we wont see returns for the items we add on, but the vehicle in standard spec will hold it's value well.

What will it be used for?

Pretty soon we'll be taking delivery of a very special new camera, which will see the picture quality on FunRover take a massive leap forward. The new camera weighs in at a whopping 21.1 megapixels, which will do just fine. It also features a HD movie mode so good, that TV programs and advert producers have started using it for broadcast purposes. It is our intention to shortly offer a service to Land Rover owners and companies to produce HD video tours, product releases and tests, as well as Readers Rides videos. Consequently, we'll be needing all kinds of cool equipment, from camera jibs and dollies to several lenses, rigs, lights and more.

All this tech is going to need a home and so our Land Rover will be stepping up to the plate and becoming a film vehicle. This will mean fitting plenty of storage and cameramounts, in addition to the other upgrades we have planned. It's going to be quite exciting fitting the Land Rover up to help lug around our other passion and making it capable of holding the new camera in all kinds of places will mean we can produce really interesting, unique camera angles and photos as a result.

Our aged SLR is being replaced!

So, when planning our upgrades and modifications, we've had to keep the above firmly in mind. We're putting the list of stuff up here, just so you can see where we're heading, but also we'll keep dropping some pictures in here and there and update you as to how the project is moving along. By the end of it, we want to have one mega Land Rover!

The Upgrades

The list currently weighs in at 3 A4 pages long. Perhaps a little excessive, but hey! You only live once! Bear in mind that eventually we want to have rebuilt the Landy piece by piece so it'll last for decades.

  • Respray - Hopefully using a local painting friend to give the panels a new lease of life, some have fallen prey to body corrosion so will need treating with etch primer (and rubbing right back to the metal too!). We don't want to stray from the standard look, so Winton is remaining quite stubbornly Chawton White! It'll also be a good chance to replace the windscreen brackets, door/window seals and hinges.
  • New Headlights - Because we've found the Defender headlights rather inadequate, they compare to the half lights / day lights of some modern cars. Most likely this will be in the form of some HID type bulbs rather than expensive LED lights.
  • Spots - We'd also like some spot lamps fitting, 6 in total, 4 on the roof rack and 2 under the A Bar. The idea being we can use the light for filming at night, rather than setting up clunky studio lamps or flash lamps.
  • Plastic A Bar - This is more an aesthetic thing, in attempt to give the front a bit more of a beefier appearance and also push branches out of the way on overgrown greenlanes.
  • Chequer Plate - Not really a huge fan of chequer plate, it's getting very cliche, but it does afford an extra amount of strength to the wings so you can sit or stand on them (important when filming, or clambering up to the roof rack). We may yet look into getting these spray or powder coated to match the bodywork (or just go all out and get some black ones on there, at least it will match the black and white colour scheme we have).
  • All new suspension - Just recently, the suspension has been taking a bit of a hammering and it's starting to show. We're going to work on the corners, bolting on some new, standard height shocks from TerraFirma, along with new springs, bushes and shock mounts (as these are way past it). Hopefully this will soften the ride, especially when filming out of the windows. or back door.

  • Winch Bumper / Winch - We recently purchased a great little Winch bumper and winch combo from the Electric Winch Shop. The guys were super helpful, and we'll be posting a video tour and review of the winch very soon!
  • Heated Wing Mirrors - Mud UK have a heated wing mirror kit that looks like it might do the trick, we find the mirrors usually ice or mist up and it takes an age for them to clear. Adding a bit of heat to the equation will help sort this problem out.
  • Side Steps and Jackable Sills - One of the side steps on the 90 is currently broken, so it needs swapping, all for standard parts mind, we're not a big fan of the bling as it just appeals to burglars. Jackable sills from Mantec will add a nice design touch, but also be much more practical than the silly, soft and fragile standard door sills that get kicked to death. They also, as the name suggest offer another 2 jacking points each side.
  • Work Lamp - Work lamps are an excellent idea, as they provide a great makeshift lighting set-up when working at the rear of the car or just sitting down to have some grub. They'll also come in handy when reversing back up greenlanes that have dead-ends.
  • Swing away Wheel Carrier - These are the only way to properly secure a larger wheel without compromising load space or vision, such as on the bonnet. Plus, they do look pretty cool (and take strain off the rear door and it's mounts).
  • Mud Flaps - current ones are looking a bit sad, fitting them to the front axle will stop muck flicking up from larger wheels, meaning we don't have to wash it daily...
  • Cubby Box Replacement - As we often have to carry several passengers, we're fitting a central seat, and taking out the cubby box. Yes, it's a brilliant place to chuck things, but we just need more seats. Instead, we're building a custom box to go in the back, and this is going to be bolted to tub, with a secure lock on it. The idea is, this box will hold everything we need, including the camera, lenses, tow ropes and some basic tools. This will also help keep the truck looking neat and tidy, whilst reducing rattle from all those bits and bobs sliding around loose.
  • Central Locking - Central locking is something you take for granted on modern vehicles and kits are available from stores such as Maplins.
  • Engine Tune - The TD5 lump is surprisingly punchy, at least off the mark and has lot's of torque, but there are several tuning companies who are happy to give the ECU a little tweaking, this affords more power and torque, whilst making the car a little more drive-able. We're planning to have the engine tuned and fit a straight through exhaust, but in the future, bolting on new intercoolers and hybrid turbo sound very interesting.
  • General Tidy-up / Repairs - The bulkhead is leaking, so that's something we'd like to look over, as is the roof seemingly now. A bit of sealant, as per Land Rover's own warranty repair instructions should do the job. Also, the alarm drives everybody nuts by blowing the horn twice when locking. This might be an error with the bonnet catch sensor, or one of the doors. Either way, it needs sorting. Also, the handbrake light stays on sometimes, until you tap the lever, so that'll get a bit of attention.
  • New Steering Wheel - Not one of those bling Halford jobbies, just a new, standard TD5 one, as the current wheel rubs off a little when warm.
  • Headlining - we're going to be ordering a new headlining this year to replace our bizarre truck cab headlining / fabric set-up that the Special Vehicles department fitted to allow for the webasto sunroof.
  • All new interior trim - We'll make our way around the interior, fitting parts from Mud UK, Exmoor and LaSalleTrim to give it a new lease of life and help it feel a little more modern. The goal is still to keep appearance as factory as possible, or at very least something like the factory would produce. Goodbye vinyl covered card rear door trim! We're also ordering a few more fold-up Exmoor seats for passengers.
  • iPad Mount / Tool Mounts / Camera Mounts - We're going mount mad! The idea is to fit a mount for an iPad (which we also need to buy) so we can use this for satellite navigation and reviewing / editing photographs on the fly. We can even update the blog in real time if we like, all from the 'comfort' of the cab. I also want to fit some removable interior mounts for things like the tripod, shovels in winter and camera dollies / jibs. These will have to removable so the vehicle can be practically used day to day. On the exterior of the Landy, I'm investigating some camera mount systems and such. There are several available, such as some that Top Gear use to get really cool low down, in motion shots of other vehicles. I also plan to bolt some standard tripod mounts to the roof rack, and other places, in order to give a quick steady mount for the camera.
  • Much later - possibly an engine swap for a 2.8 international or 3 litre disco engine and a chassis swap.

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1 Comment

  1. […] you’ve read that right. You can read more about their vision for “Project Winton” on their blog, which includes the full technical details if that gets your oil flowing. We’re sure a lot of you […]

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