Chicken coop to amazing 4×4
Americans like their comforts and space. So when a client, who works at the American embassy, commissioned Centurion-based restoration shop The 4×4 King to turn a proverbial chicken coop into a comfortable, luxurious Defender for his six foot-something dad, the company had its work cut out.
The Land Rover 110 3.5 V8 came from KwaZulu-Natal. Besides the fact that it was a rust bucket, it resembled a chicken coop more than a Land Rover hailing from 1990. The owner, an American who wanted to send the Landy back to the States for his dad, had bought it for the “bargain” price of R35 000. The sorry-looking 110 had not run for three years. The exhaust manifold was cracked. The interior and exterior were, well, pretty much ruined. Dewald Oosthuizen from The 4×4 King set about getting the Defender back in respectable shape. “Our first priority was to get it running again,” says Dewald. “This proved a bit a of challenge. When the V8 finally started, a small dam quickly formed on the workshop floor under
Water streamed from every-where. We got that repaired, and fixed the cracked manifold, and replaced a lot of other parts. Eventually, the engine was running sweetly again.” Next came the cosmetic and practical upgrades. The intended US-based customer is taller than six foot, and a more comfortable ride than a standard 110 was required. Dewald installed a set of Landy Discovery 2 electrically adjustable seats, retrimmed in high quality leather. Ditto for the rear bench, which was salvaged from a newer Defender Puma. The seat was custom-fitted 15cm further back, to allow more leg room in the second row of pews. The bench was covered in the same leather as the front seats. Dewald also replaced the Landy’s outdated centre console with a custom console sporting a 12V digital Volt meter, USB twin charger and a 12V Hella socket. A National Luna dual battery system with extra Brad Harris and two 12V Hella sockets were added in the back.
Another major hurdle was wiring, or more precisely, the lack thereof. “We had to virtually rewire the vehicle from the front to the rear bumpers. And then there was the rust: the vehicle had lived next to the coast all its life, and we spent quite a bit of time getting all that fixed,” explains Dewald. With the major mechanical parts, electrics, interior and running gear mostly sorted, it was time to make the 110 look cool. With the owner’s extensive wish list in hand, Dewald set about turning the ugly duckling into a swan. The body first received a polish and detail touch-up.Next, LA Sport two-inch coils and LAS Profender long-travel shocks were installed, followed by 30mm wheel spacers, and Defender Sawtooth 16-inch rims, shod with 285/75 R16 Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tyres. The wheels and tyres accounted for R53 000; quite a bit more than the initial R35 000 the chicken coop Landy cost. The 4×4 King also created a custom stainless steel bash plate, the front and rear bumpers are aftermarket units, and more lights were added.
This included a 50mm Cree LED bar, as well as four Cree 25W LED spotlights. Quite a few Eezi Awn K9 accessories were added, too: these included an Expedition Rack, a rear ladder, a spade and axe cradle, a high-lift jack cradle and a double jerry can holder. The vehicle now looks a lot better than it used to, but it’s not quite finished. “The owner still wants to fit Puma doors, a drawer system, an auxiliary water tank, a Warn winch and gullwing doors for the rear-most side windows,” says Dewald. Sjoe! This little project must be costing the owner a pretty penny, even though it’s not a nut-and-bolt rebuild, but rather a custom restoration. How much money has he spent so far? “Ja, these old Landys are really cool. Really cool,” ponders Dewald. This old chicken coop turned cool overlander is one of those cases where the question of money is best left unmentioned. As the Americans like to say: “It is what it is.” And it is.