The Land Rover Restoration Process Step by Step

North America Overland specializes in Land Rover Series IIa and III restoration.

We also restore Land Rovers that were never available in the United States and can now be legally imported as long as they are over 25 years old. The model now known as the Defender was first built in 1983 (originally called the 90, 110 or 127 corresponding to its wheelbase). It is an evolution of the Land Rover series III. Because the Defender shares the same body and chassis geometry as models up to 2016, there are many possibilities to improve on older Defenders using newer redesigned parts.

We will first need a restoration candidate. You may already own a Land Rover in need of restoration and if not we can source a restoration candidate for you.

A restoration will return the Land Rover to how it looked and drove when originally manufactured. You may also select from options we offer to improve the vehicle beyond its factory design. These decisions will be made during the planning stage. We then evaluate your Land Rover to determine what parts will require replacement and what parts may be restored. We will provide a rough estimate detailing the cost of labor and parts necessary to complete the restoration. The estimate is a guideline for what to expect to spend on the project, it is not a fixed price. One of the biggest factors that can escalate the cost is corrosion hidden under layers of paint.

Once you approve the project plan and estimate we will ask for a deposit. This is typically 30% of the estimate. This deposit will be used to cover the cost of many of the parts needed to build your vehicle. Every part used will be included in a detailed invoice. We will then begin work on your Land Rover. Once the deposit is depleted we will invoice you at the end of every month for the actual parts and labor expended. We will continue to do so until the project is complete.

The project starts with a complete tear down of your vehicle. It is first broken down into sub assemblies and then into individual parts. The body panels will be fully disassembled. Every rivet, nut, bolt and screw will be removed. Each panel will be stripped to bare aluminum and assessed for corrosion. An inherent problem with Land Rover bodies is galvanic corrosion. Many of the aluminum body panels are attached to a steel frame. Where the dissimilar metals touch, corrosion can form. This usually appears as a white chalky powder on the surface of the aluminum where the paint has blistered. A badly corroded body panel cannot be cost effectively repaired and will need to be replaced. Steel parts like the firewall will need to be sandblasted, the rust cut out and new steel panels welded in. The original body panels and the new replacement body panels will now be repainted. The panels are painted in BASF Glasurit, a ultra high quality single stage paint. As a rule we paint both sides of every panel, even if it will not be visible.

While the panels are being repainted, restoration continues on the chassis and drivetrain. The boxed design of the Land Rover’s frame is very strong but also susceptible to rust when salt and mud gets trapped inside. Most frames have some degree of corrosion. We often opt to replace the frame with a new frame that has been galvanized for future rust resistance. The axles are sandblasted, repainted and fully rebuilt. The braking system will be completely replaced. Older models with drum brakes will be converted to modern disc brakes. Models from the 60s with single system master cylinders will be converted to dual master cylinder power brakes. The steering system will be entirely rebuilt and then the axles will be installed with new suspension on the galvanized frame. While the body is removed, a new wiring harness is run through the frame and a new fuel tank is installed. The wheels will be replaced with new 16" wheels identical in appearance to the original Land Rover wheels. These new wheels are of welded construction unlike the early wheels which are riveted and difficult to balance. The wheels are painted inside and out and new 235/85R16 all-terrain tires are mounted.

A rebuilt engine is sourced from Turner Engineering in the United Kingdom. A rebuilt transmission and transfer case is sourced form the UK as well. Our philosophy is that the drivetrain should be purchased from the most reputable rebuilders. However, a rebuilt engine is only one piece of the puzzle. Other components like the exhaust and intake manifolds, clutch, clutch hydraulics, fuel pump, alternator and cooling system will be replaced with new parts. Once the drivetrain is assembled it is installed in the chassis on new rubber mounts and the stainless steel exhaust system and new driveshafts are connected.

Once the body panels have been painted they will be reassembled. The steel parts that make contact with the aluminum panels are galvanized to prevent galvanic corrosion (the steel is now isolated from the aluminum with a coating of zinc). Any exterior parts that came from the factory with a galvanized finish are also regalvanized. The body cappings are fastened to the freshly painted body panels with the correct rivets. The early Land Rovers had solid, dome headed hammer rivets. Later models had pop rivets. We painstakingly replace all rivets with the correct type for the year. All fasteners are also replaced with ones very similar to the originals. Every single nut, bolt, washer or rivet is replaced during the restoration. The firewall is assembled on a special stand so that the wiring harness, dash, pedal boxes and heater can be more easily installed. The rear tub is fully assembled, the doors are put together with new window felts and latches, new glass is installed in the windshield and the galvanized hood frame is riveted to the hood skin. These body sub assemblies are then installed on the chassis. We have a specific procedure for aligning the body panels to ensure even door gaps. All new door weatherstripping is installed and the door alignment is fine tuned.

The interior is meticulously restored to like-new condition. All gauges, switches and vent flap levers are carefully refurbished or replaced. All body panels are painted to the same standards as the exterior because this is what you see inside the Land Rover as there is almost no interior trim.

It is now time to turn the key and fire up the engine. Hearing the rebuilt engine come to life is always exciting! Before taking it out for its first test drive, we will thoroughly inspect your Land Rover following our Pre-Test Drive check list. Once the initial test drive is complete we will fine tune the steering alignment and put a few hundred break-in miles on the engine. Your newly restored Land Rover is ready to be driven to its new home, where it will continue to provide years of enjoyment.

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Restored Land Rover Series II and Defender Restored Land Rover Series II and Defender

Restored Land Rover Series II and Defender Restored Land Rover Series IIa chassis

Galvanized parts for Series IIa Each part is sandblasted then galvanized

Series IIa body assembly Series IIa body assembly

Restored Series IIa Gauge Cluster Restored Series IIa Gauge Cluster

Restoring a 1970 Land Rover Series IIa

Restoring a 1965 Land Rover Series IIa Part 1

Restoring a 1965 Land Rover Series IIa Part 2