Our Defender Restoration Process


The goal of every North America Overland restoration is to produce Defender that is better than it was when it rolled off the show room floor. To get started, we will first need a restoration candidate. You can choose a Land Rover from our unrestored inventory. These Land Rovers have already been deemed satisfactory for a full restoration, simply choose a color and options and we will begin your restoration as soon as the next time slot is available. Or, you may already own a Defender that you would like restored. If this is the case then we will need to do an evaluation on it to determine its condition and suitability for restoration. If the key components on the vehicle are not in good shape we may recommend sourcing a different vehicle for the restoration. Next we will create a spec sheet, a detailed list of what will go into building your Land Rover as well as the estimated cost of the project. Once you are happy with the spec sheet then a deposit will be requested and the project agreement signed. A restoration takes one year to complete, we will divide up the project cost into 12 monthly payments and invoice you at the end of every month. Invoices can be paid by credit card, direct deposit or a check.

The project starts with a complete tear down of the vehicle. The body panels will be fully disassembled, the drivetrain removed and and suspension separated from the frame. Every rivet, nut, bolt and screw will be removed. Each body panel will be stripped to bare aluminum. Steel parts like the firewall will be sandblasted, any existing rust will be cut out and new steel panels welded in. The body panels will now be repainted. As a rule we paint both sides of every panel to help with corrosion resistance.

While the body panels are being prepped for paint, the drivetrain work will be begin. The boxed design of the Land Rover's frame is very strong but also susceptible to rust when road salt and mud gets trapped inside. Most original frames have some degree of rust, if this is the case, then we will use a new galvanized frame. The differentials are then rebuilt and the axle housings are sandblasted and repainted in chassis black. The swivel assemblies are also rebuilt and shimmed to the proper preload. All the bushings are pressed out and replaced. The steering box is rebuilt and all new tie rod ends installed. If it is a pre 1994 Land Rover, the brake system will be converted to the later styles front disc brakes and the rear drum brakes converted to discs. The axles are installed on new springs and damped with high quality gas shocks. A new wiring harness is run through the frame. Five new 16" wheels wheels and 235-85r16 tires are mounted to complete the rolling chassis.

The goal of the project is to build a Defender that can easily travel highway speeds and do so comfortably and reliably. To accomplish this, a modern turbo diesel engine is installed. Components like the clutch, clutch hydraulics, radiator and intercooler are replaced. After the motor is dropped into the frame rails, we will mate a rebuilt heavy duty R380 5 speed transmission to it. The stainless exhaust system and new driveshafts are then connected.

After the body panels have been painted they will be reassembled. Many 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). The body cappings are fastened to the freshly painted body panels using the correct rivets. Every nut, bolt, washer and rivet is replaced during the restoration. New glass is installed in the windshield frame and the doors are assembled. The bulkhead, tub and roof are installed on the frame, the doors are then hung and the bulkhead and tub shimmed and adjusted for optimum door fit. All new rubber window seals and door weatherstripping is installed. Finally sound deadening is fitted to block road and drivetrain noise from transmitting into the interior.

Now that all mechanical aspects of the project have been addressed we can focus on the interior. Options for seat upholstery will now be decided on and new seats purchased. New door panels and headliner will be installed. The gauges will be upgraded to VDO units that are more accurate and have much better backlighting than the stock gauges. The floor can be lined with either rubber mats or carpeting depending of the customerʼs preference.

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 the Land Rover following our pre-test drive check list. Once the initial test drive is complete we will put 100 test-drive miles on the vehicle. Your newly restored Land Rover is now ready for delivery to its new home, where it will provide decades of faithful service and help make wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.


Land Rover G4 Challenge. Two different Land Rover Defender styles. Four-door station wagon and two-door soft top. Two different Land Rover Defender styles. Four-door station wagon and two-door soft top.

Riveting galvanized underbody supports to a freshly painted rear tub. Riveting galvanized underbody supports to a freshly painted rear tub.

Land Rover New Haven Wedding. Land Rover wedding scene.

New VDO gauges in a Defender dash. New VDO gauges in a Defender dash.

1994 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS. 1994 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS.

Specifications


Vehicle

  • NAO Defender 90 or 110

Engine

  • New 2.8 liter turbo diesel
  • New power steering pump
  • New vacuum pump
  • New motor mounts
  • New alternator
  • New water pump
  • New fan clutch
  • New radiator
  • New intercooler
  • New radiator hoses
  • New coolant expansion tank
  • New serpentine belt
  • New air cleaner assembly
  • New intercooler hoses
  • New stainless steel exhaust system

Transmission and Transfer Case

  • Rebuilt R380 heavy duty transmission with larger main bearings
  • Rebuilt 1.2:1 transfer case with one piece heavy duty differential cross pin
  • New clutch
  • New clutch master cylinder
  • New clutch hose
  • New clutch slave cylinder
  • New later type clutch pedal box
  • New shift knobs
  • New heavy duty wide angle front driveshaft
  • New rear driveshaft
  • New transmission mounts

Frame

  • Galvanized frame
  • Galvanized transmission cross member

Axles

  • Rebuilt 24 spline front differential
  • Rebuilt swivel assemblies
  • New swivel seals
  • New wheel bearings
  • New hub seals
  • Rebuilt rear differential

Suspension

  • New coil springs
  • New control arm bushings
  • New front rubber spring isolators
  • New rear ball joint
  • New rear sway bar links
  • New rear sway bar bushings
  • New panhard rod bushing
  • Galvanized spring seats
  • Galvanized shock towers
  • New gas shocks

Body

  • Body panels stripped to bare metal and painted both sides
  • Bulkhead sandblasted, all rust repaired and seamsealed
  • New door shells
  • New rear galvanized steel door
  • Galvanized under seat boxes
  • New door weatherstripping
  • Galvanized under body supports
  • New vent flap weatherstripping
  • New bulkhead to windshield frame seal
  • New windshield
  • New windshield gasket
  • New corrosion resistant front door hinges
  • New stainless door hinge hardware
  • New rear corrosion resistant door hinges
  • All doors keyed to open with ignition key
  • New fender flares
  • New grille badge
  • New grille decal
  • New headlamp bezels
  • New grille
  • New heater air intake grille
  • Galvanized door sills
  • New heater
  • Body assembled with factory sealed rivets
  • Galvanized front inner fenders

Interior

  • New front seats
  • New rear seats
  • New rubber matting or carpet on floors, seat box and bulkhead
  • New rubber matting or carpeting in load bay
  • New headliner
  • New dash binnacle and support
  • New front and rear door panels
  • New center console

Steering

  • New tie rod ends
  • Rebuilt steering box
  • New steering box drop arm
  • New power steering hoses

Brakes

  • New calipers
  • New rotors
  • New brake pads
  • New brake lines
  • New brake hoses
  • New brake master cylinder (later type)
  • New brake booster (later type)
  • New brake pedal box (later type)
  • Rear disc brake conversion

Electrical

  • New battery
  • New body wiring harness
  • New engine wiring harness
  • New wiring harness grommets
  • New headlight pigtails
  • New LED headlights
  • New LED parking lights, turn signals and taillights
  • New LED reverse lights
  • New electronic VDO speedometer calibrated to tire size
  • New VDO fuel gauge
  • New VDO coolant temperature gauge
  • New VDO voltage gauge
  • New heater switch
  • New turn signal switch assembly
  • New wiper switch assembly
  • New headlight switch
  • New hazard light switch
  • New horns

Fuel System

  • New fuel tank
  • New fuel level sending unit
  • New fuel filter assembly

Tires and wheels

  • Five new 235 85 16 tires
  • Five 16” wheels
  • New valve stems
1993 Land Rover Defender rolling chassis. 1993 Land Rover Defender rolling chassis.

Body assembly in progress on a 1988 Land Rover Defender. Body assembly in progress on a 1988 Land Rover Defender.

New headliner and sunroof on 1985 Land Rover Defender. New headliner and sunroof.

The underside of a restored Land Rover Defender. The underside of a restored Land Rover Defender.