Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/)
-   4WD Overland TRAVEL (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/4wd-overland-travel/)
-   -   Best Defender Configuration? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/4wd-overland-travel/best-defender-configuration-20750)

Stephano 15 Jun 2004 21:53

Best Defender Configuration?
Leaving aside its age or series, what do you all think is the optimal Land Rover Defender configuration for overland traveling? As examples, let’s say the UK to Cape Town and back or the UK to Australasia.
Obviously the number of passengers makes a difference so I’d be interested in your replies for parties of either two or four.
So what do you think? Travel light in a 90 or enjoy the space in a 110? Soft top, hardtop, side windows, what’s Best?


Runner 16 Jun 2004 13:05

90 - better offroad but much less space - too little for overland really, though I know folk who've done it.

Go 110, though there are folk who go for 130s too

Hardtop (HT) - more secure (less doors to potentially open), just a huge loadbay in the back so limits you (with comfort) to two crew, driver and passenger in front. You can create all sorts of storage options, false floors, jerry can lockers, etc etc. I prefer HTs.

Many like the County Station Wagon (CSW) as you can get more ppl in it but lose out in kit space (and you cant sleep stretched out in the back - thats a personal thing, some do, some dont)

In short - for two people, a HT is ideal. More and you need a CSW. (or a second car, or folk who dont mind strange seating in the back of an HT with few windows) Get small windows put in the HT so you can see to pull out at T-junctions. Ideal overland HTs are available as ex-UK military. Look up www.defendercentre.co.uk (I think thats the site) for ideas as to cost.

Dont get a soft top - thats asking for things to get stolen.

Ask away - I have both versions and have overlanded both. Each has good and bad points.

Stephano 16 Jun 2004 23:40

Excellent information/advice. Thanks.

Runner 17 Jun 2004 13:36

If you're going to buy one in the UK, get an ex-military 110.(3500 quid upwards from a dealer with a warranty) (Preferably ex-Air Force as they are used more gently than Commando and Army trucks). They are already set up with extras like heavy duty suspension, jerry can lockers, XCL tyres and so on, and some have snorkels and winterising gear. Theyve also been meticulously serviced since new and many are also Waxoyled. However if you get an ex-Commando one, check it's not one of the Beach Assault or Wading versions as they often have heavy seawater corrosion, though that's not always so.
They come with the 2.5 diesel engine (nonturbo) which is low in power but extremely reliable and tough. With care it will return 70mph on motorways and about 22mpg and Ive had it climbing big Saharan dunes with no dramas. Perfect overland truck - indestructible and extremely reliable

I paid 7000 sterling for my ex-Commando winterised truck five years ago from the Defender Centre in Stourbridge and it's been simply fantastic.

After fitting (and then overlanding) a fold-out double bed and a single bunk above it (perfectly ok, a bit of a tight squeeze) I am now running a boarded-out back with a false floor with storage lockers underneath and living space above. Ive just put a roof tent on as well, which is a great bit of kit. Wagon will be at the Billing Land Rover show with two other overlanders in July if you are in the UK then.

Stephano 17 Jun 2004 20:52

Yes, I hope to be there. I went to Billing a couple of summers ago to a Japanese Car Show and enjoyed it a lot.

Hopefully, I’ll be at the HUBB meeting first and then Billing the following weekend. I’ll look out for you as I still have a few questions.

Actually, I’m feeling a bit disloyal looking at Land Rovers. I’ve had Nissan Patrols (91 & 93 models) for the last 10 years ago they are superb in the desert. They just wouldn’t be much use for long distance travelling and the fuel bills would be a bit on the high side.


Toby2 18 Jun 2004 03:32

I started with a Nissan Patrol in Aus before I moved over to a succession of Discoverys, Defender and Range Rovers. I have a fully kitted up 110 which I've driven across Aus and Africa. However when thinking about replacing about it, I came down to two options 1 being a 100 series landcruiser (Aussie spec diesel) but my end choice is a 130 Crew cab. This is for the following reasons - 1) your unlikely to do extreme offroading when overlanding where as the extra space will be useful. 2) I want a crew cab as single cabs are often cramped (I'm 6ft 4" so space is important). Also that means I can leave one rear seat in for guides, other travellers whilst being able to remove the other two and have eletrics fitted such as a fridge, etc. 3) The reason for a pick up is that I want three way access to the rear compartment. I would get a specially made module tray which could be accessed from three sides with a low profile frame above so a roof tent could go above but not above the roof line so the wind profile is down. I was thinking about the newer 2.8 300TDI as I heard it had a lot more power through the range. With the extra carrying capacity I would put in larger long range tanks, a generator, etc and still have space to carry my kayaks, bikes, inflatable boat without it turning out like my current 110 which ends up looking like an African truck stacked 4 foot above the roof line.

Andrew Baker 18 Jun 2004 04:15

I have had both station wagon and hard top. I would say that possibly the st wagon is more adaptable due to extra doors enabling you to get at cargo easier but downside is more glass to get broken by thieves. But they make better day to day cars in europe. At the mo I run a hard top - cooler and more secure, but only 2 seats and access to fromt behind seats can be difficult. But nice square cornered load area stops things sliding. To get a expedition load in a st wagon you'll have to unbolt the seats and belts and the put then all back again...I prefer hard tops, extra passengers will have to make their own arrangements.


Gipper 23 Jun 2004 01:35

Having done West Africa for 5 months in a 90 300Tdi, I would say that it is very good for the job, as long as you sort out a good storage system - the 110 is a better overland vehicle as it is easier to fit 2 or 3 fuel tanks a large water tank and generally carry a greater load of spares and equipment. The Guys are spot on with the Hardtop/Station wagon comparisons - the Hardtop for 2 people is unbeatable and really works well, the station wagon is a much more usable vehicle for more than 2 people and after you have finished your trip.
For me the 90 is still the perfect overlander - with a roof tent - in the Sahara I could drive anywhere I wanted and run rings around overweight 110's and Landcruisers - with the 110 you fill the space available and before you know it its full to the roof and access for things becomes difficult - which ever vehicle you use pack light - use good quality lightweight gear and take enough to be comfortable -if something doesnt have at least 2 uses leave it at home.
The 300Tdi is a great engine, in the 90 it has the perfect combination of power and economy, in a heavy loaded 110 in soft sand it is a little underpowered but acceptable - the low range makes up for this to a certain extent, and for travel in Sahel conditions it has enough power - and fuel economy that Land Cruisers can only dream of...
25000 km I averaged 28 mpg
Best 32.5 mpg on sealed roads in Mauritania with the wind behind !
Worst 24 mpg in hot soft Sahara sand
thats pretty good.....but its beceause I kept the weight down....
Having driven the 130 Extensively off road in all conditions I would avoid it, the Ramp break over angle is not good for Sahara Travel and it is even easier to carry too much gear it - when loaded the 300Tdi is not powerful enough to give it good cross country ability, you need to be looking at a 4 litre + turbocharged 6 cylinder diesel - nissan or mazda conversion.
if you need any more info no problem, Cheers Grif
Ex Dragoman/Encounter Driver, Land Rover/DR650 Overlander

Stephano 23 Jun 2004 12:01

Thanks, Grif.

Runner 23 Jun 2004 17:11

Gipper - good point, Id forgotten that. If you have a big bag, you tend to fill it http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/biggrin.gif

There are some nifty conversions about for 90s such as fold-out rear side panels to allow sleeping space across the vehicle etc....

Im wondering abotu a 90 as a daily drive at the mo as they are much more agile in traffic, and having trundled a 110 (and lately a TLC too) through Cairo, Marrakech and Amman etc Im all in favour of nippier, smaller wagons in cities!

Col Campbell 23 Jun 2004 18:23

There are some very valid points there about a 90, but one thing extra thing that does go in favour of the longer wheel base is better ride quality, the shorter the wheel base the worse it is.

For a different approach have you considered an 80 Series LC or a Disco.

Col Campbell

[This message has been edited by Col Campbell (edited 23 June 2004).]

solms 25 Jun 2004 03:53

Just to add to the 90 option... Colin Clements from Journal Overland travelled extensively through Africa in his 90.

More info here http://www.overland-network.com/jour...dvantages.html


Gipper 27 Jun 2004 04:24

Yeah Col, I agree with you, the longer the wheelbase the less pitching and better directional stability (hence Comp Safari/ Paris Dakar all have 100+inch wheelbases)
- But I'm used to driving Overland Trucks and Big Dirt Bikes so live Beam Axles and Coils feels like a Bentley to me anyway !

My 90 has Heavy Duty Shocks, Heavy Duty Dual Rate springs, Front and Rear anti roll bars, Ventilated discs all round, BFG 265/75/16 Mud Terrains on Disco steel rims, and between big dunes in the Sahara I can do 80kmh+ ( on a long Sahara leg if you have the right conditions - theres no point driving in low range on a table top- drive to the conditions ) easily with excellent stability and handling - you can 4 wheel drift (gently) around the little dunes no problem - its more fun on a bike though !
While im mumbling on about suspension, - dont fit lift kits to your nice overlander...they raise the C of G - which is something you dont want to do for dune driving and upset the handling and stability on Corrogations, not to mention changing angles of axle components and putting extra strain on UJ's, most overlanders ive met who have fitted a lift kit just before they left have had real fun and games with breaking bits or extra wear.
A LWB (110 or Landcruiser) is definitely a good choice - more chassis room for fuel and water tanks, etc.
I would like to convert a Discovery Commercial though, 3 Door with rear seats - remove the double seat and put your fridge there, keep the other one for co driver when you have a guide in the front seat. No rear glass to let the sun in, saving weight and better security, more room than a 90, smaller than a 110,can sleep in the back, very, very capable off road, lots of accesories available, plenty of room for underside tanks (-though will be more expensive than Defender ) better for cruising on highway than Defender and a bit more comfort and space....Hmmm....... No, It wouldn't be any good...I wouldn't be able to put a Mug of tea on the wing when im fixing it...I'll stick to my 90 !!!
Stephano (or anyone else) if you want a photo of a well prepared 90 let me know - no problem
Cheers 'Gipper' Grif

[This message has been edited by Gipper (edited 26 June 2004).]

Col Campbell 27 Jun 2004 14:44

Colin Clements now seems to have converted his 90 to a 110.


I really dont think there is any perfect vehicle, they all for their fore and againts, what it really comes down to is what you want and what you want to do with it, or adapting what ever you already have to save buying another vehicle.

Col Campbell

Andrew Baker 28 Jun 2004 04:08

I cannot agree that 110's are more cumbersome or awkward to drive in city traffic. They're only as long as an ordinary car, plus you have the extra visibility due to height. I put stick on wide angle mirrors on my main mirror glass to remove blind spots (on my hard top). You can now buy extra wide angle main mirrors too. The 90 may be more agile on paper but unless you want to drive like a frustrated rep I can't see that a 90's alleged extra agility is worth the loss of space. The extra body length is a safety bonus if you are rear ended too - it does happen you know.


[This message has been edited by Andrew Baker (edited 27 June 2004).]

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:12.