Cover Story: Ultimate Defender 130
The Defender 130 with everything… including a cook
Meet the overland camper conversion to die for, built with all mod cons on an extra-long wheelbase 130
Scottish farmer Andrew Tosh loves his Land Rovers. He has a few of them, including a Freelander 1 and an inherited 1972 Range Rover Classic which has been in his family from new, but it was his incredible Defender 130 that turned heads on the LRM stand at the recent Scotland Land Rover Show (featured on page 104). This vehicle came about after it was completely rebuilt in 2008 by Stuart Foley of Foley Specialist Vehicles Ltd, working closely with Andrew, using an entire brand-new donor Rest of the World 110 300Tdi Defender pick-up with factory-fitted aircon, a brand-new 130 heavy-duty Richards Chassis, plus all the required extras to make it happen.
Andrew was thrilled with the work that Foleys did. “Stuart and his brother Paul were very meticulous in the ground-up build, using only stainless steel bolts and galvanising wherever they could. They gave me some great ideas for this project: for example, an access hatch through the rear floor to the diesel tank’s fuel pump,” says Andrew, who now had a base vehicle from which to build the dream overland truck for him and his wife Elizabeth to go touring in. This wasn’t their first major project, as Andrew had previously converted a 1991 Range Rover Classic into a formidable overlander, which now lives in Uganda.
With the first phase of his project complete, Andrew then drove the 130 to Germany, where Roland Kohler of LandyCamper built and installed the pop-top roof conversion and the internal storage areas, which included a table, sink and twin-hob gas cooker.
Regular readers will know that I’ve been up close and personal with some of the world’s best camping conversions – and I can tell you that Roland’s work is top quality and it is right up there with the best of them. So it was clear this was going to be something special. Due to the longer wheelbase, Roland was able to install a few more storage areas than he would on, say, a 110 wheelbase.
As Andrew had already purchased a Hannibal 2.4-metre side awning and rear awning, he wanted the sides of his Landy Camper pop-up tent to be made from the same brown canvas that Hannibal used. He didn’t stop there and had roll-down screens made for each of the windows from the same canvas. He also covered the second row seat and jump seat (which can face either backwards or forwards, or fold flat) in the same canvas.
Despite the fact that the pop-top tent for sleeping looks pretty spacious, an additional on-demand sleeping area can be created down below using the made-to-fit mattress cushions. The camper section of the project took about seven months to complete.
I was astounded by the attention to detail and number of accessories that Andrew has added – all perfectly fitted for a very specific purpose. One of the lockers contains a Porta Potti so that when nature calls on a cold night you don’t have to leave the warmth generated by the Eberspacher heater. Hot water for the shower and cleaning is delivered via a Glind heat exchanger. It is meticulous attention to detail like this that transforms the camper section into a real home away from home.
As someone who has done one or two overland trips, there are many little touches on Andrew’s 130 that I really appreciate. For example, there is a spare wheel on the bonnet, plus two British Camel-style shovels. All that extra weight means Elizabeth would never be able to lift the bonnet to check the engine’s fluid levels – a problem solved by fitting gas struts. Now you can literally lift that bonnet with your little finger. Meanwhile, the original bonnet hinges have been replaced with tamper-proof ones from MUD to prevent everything getting nicked.
While on the subject of security, Andrew has built-in more than one anti-theft system (for obvious reasons I won’t go into detail). Visible external deterrents include padlockable hasps on all five of the doors – a very practical solution.