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Land Rover 109 makeover

9 January 2017

Deziree the Land Rover’s restoration is, for all intents and purposes, done and dusted. It’s been quite a journey, as these things tend to be, with many lowlights and a number of highlights, too. This is what we did to her…

She cuts a fine picture in the Leisure Wheels parking lot, does our Deziree. Standing between all the new 4×4s, she’s all stately, with plenty of character to go around. And amazingly she still starts with virtually the first turn of the ignition key. But enough of the sentiment – time for a breakdown on all the upgrades and changes we did.

Poor Deziree came with truck-like tyres that didn’t look fit for the off-road deal at all. So we swapped the truck tyres for Firestone Jeep Service tyres. These tyres are specifically designed for use on 4×4s like game viewers, so 4x4s that spend the majority of their time driving over rocks and thorns and other nasty things. The tyres feature no less than eight plies, an aggressive off-road tread pattern and wide shoulder lugs. Available in the size 7.50-16 TL, these cross ply tyres come with tubes. They retail for  R2 400 per tyre, so that’s another R12 000. Besides having to acquire an extra rim (R700), we also powder-coated the old rims (as well as the front bumper and jerry can holder) for R2 000, with the assistance from TJM Pretoria-East. Contact:;

The paint job
We decided to go retro style on the paint, so applied the company’s new LiquidArmour paint, in the Landy’s original colour. The company has a spray booth at its Roodepoort-based headquarters, and it took all of two days to transform Deziree from a faded old lorry into a shiny new-old 109. Pricing to repaint a 4×4 starts from R9 000, and can be as much as R12 000, depending on colours, finishes and details. Contact:


The interior
The old girl’s interior was in a right sorry state. After a very thorough clean, the auxiliary gauges were properly mounted, all the seats got new sponge and vinyl covering (R2 000), we added rubber boots for all the levers (like the handbrake), and we covered the aluminium floor in a coat of thin rubber mat. Overall, the cab is now a much-improved place to spend time. Total cost amounted to about R3 500.


The suspension
To say that the 109’s old suspension was finished is a major understatement. It was, in fact, completely shot. We fitted new Old Man Emu (OME) Nitrocharger shock absorbers (R2 244 each) and a new OME steering damper (R2 470). The technicians who worked on the Landy at the 4×4 Mega World headquarters in Meadowdale said that fitting the new shocks was easy; removing the old items and steering damper, on the other hand, was one heck of a job, thanks to all the rust! Total cost for suspension upgrade (including R800 fitment) amounts to R12 246. Contacts:


The engine
At one stage, poor Deziree was so low on power she couldn’t even make it up the ramp of the trailer we towed her on. Thanks to mechanic Raymond Goble, she’s now purring like a happy kitten, that straight-six back on song and with some power, too. Total cost for a major service and parts, as well as a right proper clean of the Landy’s interior, amounted to R3 500.

The holder and cans
Back in the ’70s, storing flammable petrol in front of the engine seemed like a grand idea. And that’s exactly the system Deziree came with. We added two Front Runner jerry cans, and we replaced the beaten-up old Hella light with a Light Force 170 Striker, a powerful halogen spot-light. However, this light will soon make way for an authentic, period Hella spotlight, which we picked up for R200. This follows after a Land Rover aficionado reprimanded us for fitting such a modern light on such a classic Land Rover. Fair enough, though – and soon Dez will sport that Hella spot. Contact:


The hatch
The film company that produced the film The journey is the destination, in which Deziree played the leading car role, cut a crude hole on the safari roof. All it had to do really, was appear to work on camera, and that’s exactly what it did. However, this left us with a rather useless hole in the roof. So Onca 4×4 fitted a one-off custom hatch for us, which is not only waterproof, but fully operational, too. It also looks about a million times better. A custom hatch like this will set you back a total of around R7 500.  Contact:

And that’s about it. With only the authentic spotlight to be fitted, and with Deziree’s straight-six engine starting when you just stare at the ignition key long enough, it’s now just the paperwork that remains to be sorted. Indeed, months down the line, we are still battling to get the registration process finalised.  All in all, from a retail point of view, the total tally of upgrades stand at around R55 000. When the paperwork is finally completed, we’re sure to take the old girl on a bit of a road trip. Can’t wait.