custom Overlander ONCA OFF-ROAD DEFENDER 130
Leisure Wheels 4×4 Safaris’ Johan Swanepoel is a Land Rover man. More specifically, he’s a Defender man. He loves the Defender 130, and has recently had a brand-new one kitted out by Onca Off-road to be the ultimate safari guide vehicle. We met Johan at the Onca offices to check out his new ride
Text and photography: GG van Rooyen
Namibia is Cruiser country. We’ve travelled with quite a few Namibian 4×4 guides over the years, and pretty much all of them drove Land Cruiser 79s. Yup, our neighbours to the north love their Cruiser bakkies – especially those older models with the 4,5-litre straight-six EFI petrol engines – because they offer enough oomph to tackle the Namib’s dunes, even with a heavy load on the back.
But while the majority of the country’s guides seem to like the Cruiser, there are a few exceptions. One of them is Mondjila’s Johan Swanepoel.
Johan loves Land Rovers – especially the iconic Defender.
“While at university, I got a part-time job driving Land Rovers from Pretoria to Gaborone. Since then, Land Rovers have always been my favourite vehicles,” explains Johan.
As a guide for Mondjila Adventures, Johan has had nine Defenders.
“The Defender is a great guide vehicle. If you take good care of it, it will take good care of you. I service my vehicle every time I come back from a long safari, and thanks to this, I’ve never had any major issues while on a trip.”
Although Johan has a 110 Defender that he uses for the occasional safari, his favourite guide vehicle is the 130 Defender.
“The 130 is great because it has tons of stowage space. I can fit everything I need to feed 12 people for 12 days on the back of it. What other vehicle could allow you to do that?” says Johan.
THE ONCA TREATMENT
When Johan purchased a brand-new 130 recently, he decided to convert it into the ultimate guide vehicle.
“I’ve owned a lot of Defenders, so I have a pretty good idea of what modifications a Defender really needs if you plan on using it as a guide vehicle, and what extras you won’t use much,” says Johan. “So I went to Onca Off-road’s Len Nel to ask if he could assist me in kitting out the Landy.”
Johan has been on quite a few trips with the guys from Onca, so he knew them well, and he was confident they would be able to prepare the 130 for life in the bundu.
Len and his team started by fitting a bull bar with two six-inch LED spotlights and a winch. A Safari snorkel and Onca rocksliders were also installed.
The standard suspension was replaced by an EFS one, and since Johan does the vast majority of his travelling on dirt, BFG mud-terrain tyres were fitted. The original Defender rims were kept, but sprayed black.
“I like the Defender’s steel rims because I can repair them in the middle of nowhere with basic tools if I need to,” says Johan. “That’s why I decided to keep them, instead of fitting flashy alloy ones.”
Two large, stainless steel water tanks and an extra diesel tank were also installed, since Johan often ventures far from sources of fuel and fresh water.
In the 130’s load area, Onca fitted a custom-built frame that sports a drawer-system for ammo crates, jerry-can and gas bottle holders, two Technichests, a Hannibal roof rack and a housing for Johan’s two fridges.
“I used to have one large fridge that sat exposed in the Landy’s load area. The sun really cooked it, which wasn’t ideal. This time, I decided to get two smaller fridges that could be protected from the elements. The frame that Onca designed has a special housing for this purpose.”
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
According to Johan, this custom-built frame on the Landy’s bak shows why Onca Off-road is a unique aftermarket accessory provider.
“The frame was custom-made to fit my needs exactly,” he says. “It’s not a generic piece of equipment that was simply bolted on. And that’s true of most of Onca’s products. Items are made to fit the specific needs of clients.
“The Hannibal roof rack on top of the frame has been fitted with a flat piece of metal so that I can sleep on top of it. I can even put my pop-up tent up there when it’s a bit chilly. The frame also has grab handles that make it easy for me to reach items on the roof rack and get things out of the fridges. All these additions make the 130 more user-friendly for a guide.”
What other features have been added?
“Some of the changes are relatively small, but they really show Onca’s attention to detail. For example, I always call my Defender 130 the worshond (dachshund) because it is so long,” says Johan. “Because of this, Onca has cut the word worshond into the bull bar.
“A plate with the word ‘diesel’ on it has also been fitted around the fuel tank’s opening, to ensure that filling station attendants don’t accidentally put in petrol.
“A flat piece of stainless steel has been fitted to the 130’s tail gate, which enables me to use it as a table when preparing lunch for my clients.”
So is Johan happy with his new Defender?
“I love it! Onca has done a fantastic job. It is about two days’ drive from my home in Namibia to Onca’s workshop in Kempton Park, so I guess I could have had it kitted out closer to home, but it wouldn’t have been done as professionally. I know the 130’s now ready to tackle southern Africa’s out-of-the-way places.”
Contact Onca Off-road on tel. 011 979-2690; or visit www.onca4x4.co.za.