Words by Paul Murrell, Practical Motoring
After ARB WA’s ordeal to find their Defender gem, lot of challenges were still to come.
The ARB team was hoping to avoid the expense of having the Defender resprayed, so to that end, they inspected the weathered paintwork and tested a few inconspicuous spots to see if it can be brought back to its former glory using cutting compounds. As for the engine, now that the knocking had been identified and assessed as ‘not a major issue’, they were happy to keep the turbo diesel as original, without any aftermarket modifications.
Of course, the Defender was treated to almost everything from the ARB Defender Catalogue, a great way to show that ARB has a continuing line of products that go all the way back through a 40-year history.
Defender parts aren’t as readily available as LandCruiser or Patrol bits, and local availability had been a big hurdle for the ARB team. Fortunately, they found a local supplier who was willing to source and supply all the parts needed for the restoration.
Another challenge faced by restorers of all imported vehicles is the cost of freight. To keep costs down, despatch was held over until the container was full, which caused some delays, however, the footwells that were holding up progress soon arrived. The aim was to have the bodywork complete before starting to accessorise the vehicle.
And what a list of accessories it was! Starting at the front, there is a new style bull bar, teamed with a Warn 9.5 XDC-s winch. Headlights were upgraded with IPF reflectors and globes, coupled with IPF LED spotlights, making the night driving immeasurably safer and more relaxing when the guys decide to drive from Perth to Birdsville.
The old home-made roof rack was replaced with a far more practical and attractive ARB deluxe roof rack, well able to handle lighter items such as swags and camp gear. With an eye on making the old Landie be able to handle challenges such as the countless sand dunes of the Simpson Desert and Big Red outside Birdsville, it was fitted with front and rear ARB air lockers, combined with a twin on-board compressor for easy tyre re-inflation. Consideration was also given to fitting an air tank to clean out the Outback dust from air filters and elsewhere. Also in view of the dust, a Safari snorkel was fitted and it will assist with directing cooler air to the engine.
Communications are crucial when away from civilisation, so a GME TX4500S UHF combined with a GME 6.6Db antenna was installed.
Corrugations will be tamed by a completely overhauled suspension. Replacing what appeared to be the original equipment suspension still in place, a full Old Man Emu suspension package was installed to improve off-road ability. Ground clearance was be enhanced with a 40mm (estimated) lift to give better on-road handling as a bonus.
The Landie was remarkably self-sufficient, once fitted with a BCDC dual battery set-up, it was easily able to cope with the ARB fridge freezer and provide charging for other ancillaries such as camp lights and the all-important phone chargers. A Long Ranger 120-litre fuel tank hugely extended the range of kms the Landie will be doing and a Hayman Reece towbar was also be fitted, “just in case we have to put one of the Icons on a car trailer for the journey home,” cheekily notes Aaron.
How does it compare?
1995 Land Rover Defender 2016 Land Rover Defender
Wheelbase 2.80m 2.79m
Front Track 1.49m 1.49m
Rear Track 1.49m 1.49m
Length 4.60m 4.79m
Width 1.79m 1.79m
Height 2.13m 2.00m
Kerb Weight 1977kg 1972kg
GVM 3050kg 3050kg
Payload 1073kg 1078kg
Towing (braked) 3500kg 3500kg
Fuel Tank 75 litres 80 litres
Wheels 16-inch (alloy) 16-inch (alloy)
Tyres 205/R16 235/85R16
Audio System 4-speaker stereo 4-speaker system
Built United Kingdom United Kingdom
New Price $40,590 (5-sp manual 2.5DT) $47,500 (6-sp manual 2.2DT)