A little over a year ago we were introduced to the Land Rover world when we bought our 1984 Defender 110. Not only do we love the appearance of the car, but we also saw it as the perfect fit to help us live our dream of traveling Europe full-time.
Converting the Defender 110 into a liveable camper
We spent almost 6 months converting the Landy into a camper before heading off. During the build and even more now as we're on the road, we are overwhelmed by the willingness to help by members of the Land Rover owner community.
At first we had to figure out everything on the go, as we had no prior experience with Land Rovers, nor building an overland vehicle. It was a lot of fun to learn all about what it takes to bring a project to life like this. We had to figure out what type of paint to use, what kind of fridge is best, how to install solar power etc. This also meant that at times we had no clue what we were doing, which led to some stressful moments. But with hours of researching and a lot of help from others, we managed to create something that we are very proud of and has turned out to work very well for us.
Choosing 'the look'
When we bought the car, it had it’s original County brown colour which wasn’t in the best condition and the rear door even had a different colour. So we had to do something about the paintwork and, although we liked the original look with the vintage decals, we figured if we were going to repaint the whole car we might as well go for a more flashy, unique colour that we would like even more. We’ve always loved the look of Series Land Rovers more than the modern versions, and because of the age of the car we found it more fitting to go for a classic look as well. We looked at thousands of pictures of different Land Rovers to decide which colour we liked most. We really wanted to stick to original LR colours and found a supplier for that in the UK which helped narrowing down our options a bit.
We always had a thing for yellow but weren’t sure if we dared to go for that and thought maybe we would be better off choosing a more common colour. But the fact that we kept on picking out pictures of yellow Land Rovers as our favourites and realised we really wanted to built something that would stand out, led us to finally make the decision to go with "Sandglow". Combining this with "Limestone" for the roof and window pillars would really give it the classic look we were looking for. We will never forget the moment when we rolled out the car from the garage after painting to have a first good look. We couldn’t have been more excited and happy with our decision!
Parts we have worked on out on the road
Since the conversion, we have travelled 16,000 km all over Scandinavia. We’ve had to replace our leaking fuel tank, exhaust manifold gasket, leaky wheel cylinder, fix our headlights that suddenly stopped working while driving in the dark, and snapped the complete wiring loom to the back of the car. Our new fuel tank, starter, wheel cylinder and more were all Bearmach. During the build we also used a lot of Bearmach parts because we love the good quality and reasonable prices, especially in comparison to other brands.
Twice we were lucky to be volunteering when we needed parts (new fuel tank, wheel cylinder and starter), so we had a place to stay and an address to have parts delivered. Another time, when we were in need of a new exhaust manifold gasket, Jasper’s parents actually planned to come and visit us shortly after we identified the problem, so we asked them to pick up the gasket from our local Land Rover specialist and bring it with them.
Part numbers from Bearmach
Here are some of the part numbers we used, suitable for our Land Rover Defender 110:
Help from the Land Rover community was priceless
Excellent parts availability is one of the reasons we chose to travel with a Land Rover, and that certainly did not disappoint us. In every case we were able to have the correct parts delivered within a reasonable amount of time, so this gives us a lot of confidence for the future as well. In terms of fixing the car, we try to do as much as possible ourselves, but sometimes a helping hand is definitely needed. We are so amazed by the willingness to help by members of the LR community. Through local LR forums, exchanging phone numbers or even simply running into the right person one time by pure coincidence we were always able to get help. We had help from the most wonderful people replacing our rear wheel cylinder, exhaust manifold gasket, UJ’s and solving some starting problems. Sometimes by providing their skills and experience and actually doing most of the job, and sometimes just by providing a place to work and the right tools, all for nothing in return. We knew from the beginning that some things would break and we would have our share of trouble, but after these experiences we feel so confident now that there’s always a solution to get things done!
Installing solar power on the Land Rover Defender
We found a very interesting company specialised in portable power solutions called 'Goal Zero' and started to have a more detailed look at their product range. We were very impressed with the plug-and-play solutions which included everything we were looking for. We decided to go for a Yeti 400 power station which has a 33Ah AGM battery, built-in power outlets and even an inverter. To power the Yeti we mounted a GZ Boulder 50 solar on the roof rack. It was very easy to install in the car, although it was quite exciting to drill a hole in the roof. It was just one wire running from the solar panel to the power station, no need to crimp cables whatsoever. Compared to a DIY dual battery setup, the Goal Zero system is probably a little more expensive, but you don't have to deal with gathering all of the required individual components best suited for your needs, finding out what size cable to use, what fuses to use and there's lot more important things to research that ensure you end up with a reliable and safe system. You do have a lot more freedom when going for a DIY setup, but for us the Goal Zero setup met our needs perfectly. It is very easy to add or remove components according to your needs. We realised after a few months that we required more battery capacity and faster charging, so we added another 33Ah battery and a second Boulder 50 solar panel.
Things we run off this system are our fridge, diesel heater, laptops, camera equipment, phones and other small devices.
Our most memorable moment out on the road
Our most memorable moment must have been the feeling we had when setting off, right after finishing the build. After years of dreaming and months of hard work we were finally ready to go and live our dream. This feeling is hard to beat, as our whole adventure was still in front of us and we were super excited to get going.
But every little problem has been solved with a lot of help and positivity. It's all part of the adventure. We haven’t really decided where to go next yet, but we would love to travel to Spain, Portugal, and the Balkan Peninsula is high on our list.
Follow the adventure on Instagram - @usandthelandy