Rob’s Defender is kitted to tour, but is even happy to lift a wheel
Model: ‘Puma’ Defender 110 Wagon
Motor: 2.4L Turbo-Diesel
Name: Monty (the vehicle, not the owner)
When Rob was bitten by the four-wheel drive bug back in 2011, “It was always going to be the Defender.” He was well aware of the shortfalls of the Defender (that some die-hards might argue don’t exist) like the questionable reliability, the odd noises and rattles; not to mention, “on the road it handles like a limping labrador and corners like a wheelbarrow full of walruses.” You see, Rob’s choice in motor vehicles is a little left of centre – coming from a 1967 Austin Healey and more recently choosing a postie bike (which he still owns) to ride from Perth to Broome.
This love affair with what is now a such a unique vehicle has seen a transformation from a bone stock Defender into the vehicle we wish we all had! Enter, ‘Monty’.
Monty has taken its proud owner through just about all of the remote desert tracks, the New South Wales and Victorian High Country, and the picturesque isle of Tasmania, without missing a beat (and comfortably, too).
Engine and driveline
The 2.4L Turbo-Diesel remains mostly untouched; to keep things running cool a larger intercooler is hidden behind the grille and a Davis Performance ECU remap makes it possible to hit 100km/h (or drag an 18T truck out of the mud). The mandatory front prop shaft upgrade has come from Tom Woods in the States and the rear-wheel flanges have also been upgraded for reliability and strength. A custom suspension setup has been pieced together to suit the owner’s needs. The sensible two-inch lift King Springs are ample, damped by custom ‘The Ultimate Suspension’ shocks, while in the rear a set of airbags helps the springs keep things level.
Sitting on top is a Hannibal roof rack with a range of accessory mounts; the fantastic Alu-Cab shadow awning hangs off the side. Four Lightforce HID spotties (or should I say, ‘work lights’) up front turn night into day. To organise gear on the rack or even have a quick mid-desert ablution, a Front Runner ladder hangs off the back.
Up front, Opposite Lock takes care of the frontal protection fitted with a Warn 9.5XP winch and another couple of HID spotlights. Out the back a Rijidij dual-wheel carrier takes care of the rear protection while giving an amazing departure angle.
The body is entirely protected by the great looking ‘Mammoth’ black chequerplate; and for a bit more storage a Terrafirma side storage locker has been cut into the body.
Tucked underneath the vehicle is a giant water tank with a tap very neatly mounted on the rear door. Wedged inconspicuously behind the rear driver’s side wheel is an auxiliary fuel tank giving an additional 45 litres of fuel capacity.
And now comes the exciting bit. Rob has gone all out, piecing together what is a functional and comfortable touring setup. There was only one choice when deciding on the interior fitout: Rob sought assistance from the man Daniel Fluckiger at The Expedition Centre.
Going all-out, a Mulgo pop-top has been crafted into the roof. With a super-comfy mattress and his elegant Land Rover doona, the accommodation is the envy of just about everyone. The best part – if the weather turns crap, he doesn’t even have to get out of the vehicle to set it up.
The Expedition Centre has also fitted a custom DRIFTA kitchen, pantry and storage setup, with a Waeco CFX40 sitting conveniently on an MSA drop slide. While they were at it, a pair of gullwing panels replaced the rear windows and a host of other accessories (too many to mention) were installed in the name of functionality.
Up front is a ‘Department of Interior’ roof console to mount all of the gadgets; while iPad and mobile phone mounts take care of the mapping and comms.
A simple National Luna system keeps the dual batteries charging, while a Goal Zero solar panel and portable battery provide a little more juice when parked up.
Well, Rob tells me things are pretty-much done – and I’d have to agree with him. But we all know that’s never the case. With a trip to the Cape next year, I’m sure there’s a couple of items on the wish list.
The attention to detail Rob has put in is a testament to doing things the right way. The flexibility of the Defender and the huge offerings of the aftermarket world made it possible to put together a unique, go-anywhere vehicle that we just love.