Land Rover Defender Blog

Our Land Rover Upgrades: Part 1

Round 1 of our upgrade project

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

August 17, 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 Land Rover needs some serious tweaking. As you may or may not know, we've previously run through our plans to modify the 90 into a camera vehicle. We're planning on producing all kinds of exciting greenlaning, off-roading and general Land Rover videos (such as fitting guides e.t.c) and so it makes sense to convert the Defender to do all the above. We've also hopefully commandeered a friends Nissan Navara Pick-up to use as a camera car, just like Top Gear! Should be pretty interesting. However, before the Landy is ready for it's debut, it needs some modifications. We're talking probably at least £3,000 worth of upgrades. It's a lot of money, but Land Rovers just keep going on and on! Let's take a look at the current state of the truck, changes we'll be making and our chosen suppliers for such upgrades should you wish to make some of your own!


The front grill took some severe bashing over winter. Cold temperatures coupled with the forming of ice has caused the intercooler to sag and a core of the radiator to split and leak. This has been 'fixed' with Radweld, but a new item will be sourced soon. These will be purchased from TD5 Alive for the intercooler & an OEM Radiator will be eBayed (preferably an AllMakes one).

Also, we plan on picking up a Land Rover plastic A-Bar (from John Craddocks) . The front light guards, headlight surrounds and grill could do with replacing for newer items, as could the lights all around (for standard parts rather than NAS type items & can be sought from any reputable Land Rover parts supplier). Some have suggested using KBX grills, but as yet we haven't decided on the exact look we want here. We'll also be picking up a winch & wade blanket / radiator muff from Exmoor trim to fit over the grill in winter. 2 Spot lights will be added to the A-Bar.


Were going to swap the bonnet for a new item (likely a power bulge 07 onwards, available on eBay) and fit chequer plate to the wing-tops / bonnet for practicality (eventually, we may take pictures and videos from this view for example and TerraFirma offer a great looking kit.


Underneath at the front, we have a steering guard ready to be fitted in the workshop (purchased from The Electric Winch Shop, and the steering damper needs replacing. We'll also replace all bushes with polybushes to tighten the handling (on the trailing arms, steering etc).


The shock turrets have split so these need replacing ASAP. This will be the next job, and will be carried out with the fitting of new AllMakes / Terrafirma Medium Duty dampers and springs all around. The shock turrets may be switched for tubular types as these are much easier to clean e.t.c.


Brakes need updating for some more heavy duty vented discs, we'll look into higher performance brakes and callipers. The current ones have little stopping power now, whereas some 4 calliper type ones from TD5 Alive will suit much better.



Sills are dented and need swapping for either newer items, or as the steps need replacing too, we may purchase a combo sill protector / tree / rock slider ( these also tend to be jack able which is a bonus). as you can see door hinges are corroded so these will switched for new items, finished in a matte sheen black. All hinges on the Landy need replacing. Including...


The windscreen mounts also note the cracked windscreen seal which needs replacing ASAP. These can be readily bought from Paddocks, eBay, or Land Rover shows.


Whilst paying attention to the doors, the wing mirrors have faded and become scratched, so new items will be sought. These may be painted body colour, we haven't quite decided yet.


Door bottoms have started to corrode where the steel contacts aluminium. depending on severity, these will need either:

  1. Reconditioning (grinding off rust, treating with a rust convertor and painting of the  frames, then sprayed with cavity wax before applying new trim)
  2. Re-skinning
  3. New doors


Internally, the following will be renewed:

  • Seals
  • Door trims
  • Steering wheel
  • Cubby box (for an XS model)
  • Seats (One new frame for drivers seat, and a re-trim / re-foam kit in XS Leather)
  • All other panels will be removed and washed
  • floor pans have begun to corrode so all seams need resealing and this area will benefit from re-painting perhaps with a truck bed liner type substance.
  • Also, we need to fit an iPad stand and proper dock for the iPhone.
  • We also need to procure interior rear quarter light trim panels, speaker surrounds, hardtop panels (from MUD UK) and these can all be customised with MUD curry hooks / cargo nets in varying sizes.
  • A storage box will be built to fit over the heater in the back. this will need to hold recovery equipment and our camera. It should be lockable.
  • The headlining needs to be replaced for a LaSalle Trim all in one. This will then need to be tweaked to include a surround for the sunroof controls which we will form ourselves.

The roof has started leaking internally, so again that will need sorting. We will follow the Land Rover official workshop manual and spray water on the roof whilst looking inside for the leak, before applying a sealant (they actually have to state this in the manual?).

The sunroof too needs repairing. The clutch on the motor seems to have gone. We also need to make a fibreglass topper for the bulkhead to protect it and offer more scratch resistance. Whilst the fibreglass is out, we've been toying with the idea of making some door top trims for the inside, as well considering making a whole door trim with pockets fitted. If not, cargo nets can be attached to the replacement items. For more storage space.


Currently, the interior is about 2 plywood panels from being a farmers vehicle, so we want to fit a few creature comforts (well, just interior trim pieces really).

We also want to look into fitting sunken cargo rails and cargo rings to secure everything for the rear load bed and will be following Willem's Excellent article here.

The rear window seal has perished and needs renewing (apparently, quite a messy job as it's a sealant you use, rather than a rubber gasket type seal), and the rear door also would benefit from a similar treatment as the front doors (frame repair, or complete replacement).


Light guards all around need replacing. They've corroded and this one has some light crash damage.

The rear cross-member needs retreating for winter. This localised rust was behind the grab handle on the back, so we need to shot blast it then apply an etch primer and paint it up before the roads turn salty (and corrosive) again!


We will need to replace the mud flaps, and also add some to the front, but after, the whole vehicle had been re-waxoyled. We desperately need s rear step or an NAS Step / tow bar as passengers currently dangle in the face of danger by stepping in and out on the tow ball.

The rear of the cab needs 2 more seats fitting and we've been thinking about fitting a Dog guard or gun rack to separate the two cabs and offer better security / storage options. Rear window guards will also be fitted.

We also plan to mount a set of rear work lights, as well as maybe a spotlight bar at the front. Well top it all off with a snorkel.

Finally, at least externally, we want to add a roof rack. This will need a removable section so we can film out of the roof. The roof rack will allow us to mount camera dollies, cranes and sliders way up high for great camera angles as well as offering some excellent storage of camera equipment).

Later this week we'll discuss the mechanical changes we want to make to give the car more power and driveability (especially after all this weight is added). But for now, our mammoth list appears to be complete.

Overall, were going for a functional, rugged and utilitarian look for the Land Rover. Let us know what you think.

If you're a company who can supply any of the above, please contact us as we are able to carry out highly detailed product reviews for any interested parties.

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  1. Nigel Linton says:

    Great minds think alike, if you find a way to trim the 5 rear windows, let me know,

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