This Rover started life as an NAS Defender 110 and became this unique Beach Runner
Defenders Be All They Can Be [Courtesy Rovers North News, November 2006]
By Jeffrey B. Aronson
A considerable part of the appeal of Land Rovers is your involvement in their lives. Given a dash of aptitude and some extra fortitude, you can maintain, refurbish and even enhance your Land Rover. You’re limited only by your imagination and your finances.
For inspiration, enthusiasts turn to magazines, Rovers North Parts Guides, and fellow enthusiasts, and if you’re lucky, Land Rover specialty shops. When I need additional fodder for daydreams, I can drive to East Coast Rover in Warren, ME. If I had a Defender and wanted to imagine it to be all that it could be, ECR would be my destination.
Mike Smith founded his restoration, repair and customization business over a decade ago and it services a nationwide clientele. Over the past few years, they’ve become the center for FC 101’s, Defender 90’s and 110’s. There’s never fewer than a dozen Defenders undergoing restoration or reconfiguring. The cars come from private owners as well as Copley Motorcars, Boston, MA, a dealership specializing in Defenders. If AA Yellow is your favorite Land Rover color, read on about these dream cars.
An FC 101 from Rovers North provided an outer Long Island, NY owner with a dream car. ECR tested and tuned up the stock 3.5 V-8 and twin SU’s. Their frame-on refurbishment altered the military kit to give the car an NAS Defender 90 interior. As the owner enjoys kayaking, adventure surfing and similar sports, the car received extensive rust-proofing and lining. Using the existing military boxes, ECR converted them entertainment and civilian purposes. An Oasis air system will help deflate and inflate tires; front lockers will help insure traction in difficult situations.
Next, Copley Motorcars recently sent a Defender 90 and gave ECR “an open ticket to build the 110 we always wanted to create,” noted Mike Smith. “We had thought about a soft top based on an NAS 110 for a long time, and here was our opportunity.”
The donor vehicle had only 32,000 miles and had been garaged all its life; as Mike said,” the better the car you start with the better job we can do.” Mike’s vision, inspired by conversations with an enthusiast years ago, enticed a Greenwich, CT, customer so much that he bought it while it was still under fabrication.
They began by disassembling the entire car and installing a new Defender 110 frame, a stainless fuel tank and brake lines, and then a 4.0 liter EFI V-8 with automatic. Rather than the external roll cage of the NAS Defender 110, ECR created and fabricated an internal cage. “Other than a few Defender 90 Genuine Parts, there are no pieces from an NAS 110,” noted Mike.
ECR reconstructed the T support to attach to the rollcage and crafted their own rear doors, using ones from a 1984 Defender as a template. They also created fiberglass door panels for the interior. Defender seats accommodate 9 people comfortably. As the car will wind up on Nantucket, rust proofing was critical. Stainless steel was used wherever possible; all panels were dunked in epoxy primer and paint. Badger Coachworks fabricated tops for both cars so tight that “they’re surprisingly quiet at high speeds.” A front winch, front differential and tie rod guards, running boards and a sound system completed the project.
Land Rovers can be made into most anything you want them to be. For ECR’s Mike Smith, Ian Cook and Mike Matthews, “both of these vehicles include a lot of handmade parts. It’s cool that they look like Land Rover built them – that’s the fun for us.Subtle and stock looking– that’s our constant challenge.”
Copyright 2006, Jeffrey Aronson and Rovers North
Custom craftsmanship extends from the interior panels to the added door posts
The doors and their panels had to crafted on-site
"The Land Rover is not a vehicle, it's a way of life."