FRANKENROVER

IT'S ALIVE!

Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents - Text: Joe Daniels Pho­tog­ra­phy: Joe Daniels

It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

The plot from the 1931 clas­sic film Franken­stein in­volved the cre­ation of a “hu­man” by a mad sci­en­tist us­ing body parts from other in­di­vid­u­als. The end re­sult was the mon­ster, Franken­stein, named af­ter his creator, Dr. Franken­stein (or Franken­steen—de­pend­ing on which movie you watched!). So, when Richard Gal­lagher and his team of au­to­mo­tive sci­en­tists put to­gether a one-off, diesel-pow­ered Range Rover De­fender 110, they ap­pro­pri­ately named it “Frankenrover,” since it is the sum of a lot of other parts from donors. The build was not your typ­i­cal junk­yard mixand-match deal, but a well-de­signed and ex­e­cuted ex­er­cise in build­ing a one-of-a-kind ve­hi­cle. Oh, and by the way, don’t ask how much it cost.

Gal­lagher orig­i­nally pur­chased this 110 from Florida to use it as a marketing tool for Galco Gun Leather, a high-end leather hol­ster man­u­fac­turer lo­cated in Phoenix, Ari­zona. The 110 came with a 3.9L Rover en­gine and a fivespeed trans­mis­sion.

Once the 110 ar­rived in Phoenix and the restora­tion was started, a lot of prob­lems were dis­cov­ered. As a re­sult, the pro­ject moved to the next level, re­ceiv­ing new axles, tires and a driv­e­train con­sist­ing of an LS2 Corvette en­gine and 700R4 trans­mis­sion with an At­las four­speed trans­fer case.

How­ever, even with the Corvette pow­er­plant, the owner claimed the Rover didn’t have enough power, so the pro­ject moved to Phase II. This con­sisted of fab­bing a cus­tom tubu­lar frame, doing a 6-inch body stretch and adding a 5.9 Dodge Cum­mins en­gine with the NV4500 trans­mis­sion. Be­lieve it or not, the Cum­mins still didn’t pro­vide enough power ac­cord­ing to the owner, so Frankenrover was fit­ted with a Du­ra­max LBZ en­gine and Al­li­son trans­mis­sion.

Of course, the sus­pen­sion setup for the ul­ti­mate off-road and ex­pe­di­tion ve­hi­cle would con­sist of state-of-the-art King race-qual­ity coilover and by­pass shocks at­tached to Cur­rie Dana 60 Rock Jock axles, both of which are fit­ted with 3:73 gears and lock­ing hubs. Baer Brakes six-pis­ton, 14-inch disc as­sem­blies, ac­tu­ated by a Vanco Hy­dro as­sist and GM 1-ton mas­ter cylin­der, put the brakes on the huge, 37-inch rolling stock, which con­sists of 17x10inch Hutchi­son Rock Crawler wheels wrapped with 12.50x17 Bf­goodrich KM2 tires. Of course, all the steer­ing and brake lines are cus­tom made from braided stain­less steel.

Get­ting a 6.6L Du­ra­max complete with all the ac­ces­sories (such as an in­ter­cooler, plumb­ing and wiring) into the Rover was no sim­ple task. The en­gine is a stock 2006 LBZ Du­ra­max that breathes through a cus­tom external snorkel and air fil­ter setup and pushes out ex­haust gas via a cus­tom 4-inch ex­haust that is Jet Hot

coated. Sound-dead­en­ing comes from a sin­gle Flow­mas­ter muf­fler.

And then there was the night­mare of all the wiring. Back­ing up the Du­ra­max is the stock Al­li­son six-speed au­to­matic, which is now bolted to an At­las II 4.3:1 ra­tio trans­fer case. Ob­vi­ously, cus­tom drive­shafts con­nect the driv­e­line.

The nar­row nose of the De­fender re­quired Richard and his team, mas­ter me­chanic Gar­net Baril and pro­ject man­ager Tim Smith, to come up with a cus­tom, large-ca­pac­ity Ron Davis alu­minum ra­di­a­tor and in­ter­cooler. And to clear the top of the en­gine and pro­vide some heat re­lief, Tomb En­ter­prise’s Matt fabbed up a cus­tom alu­minum cowl hood for the Rover.

Vis­ually, the at­ten­tion to de­tail on the rig is ab­so­lutely flaw­less. No de­tail was over­looked, and the list of mods and cus­tom work would fill this mag­a­zine. Matt is cred­ited with a lot of the cus­tom body­work, in­clud­ing the dash, which is fit­ted with Auto Me­ter gauges, and over­head con­sole, complete with map lights lifted from an F-16.

Up front is a cus­tom bumper fit­ted with a 15,000-pound winch, Mas­ter Pull cable and PIAA run­ning lights, along with car­bon-fiber KC Hilites. There’s also an air line hookup on the bumper, as well as two 30K swivel shack­les. And a set of Bushwacker flares keeps the tires cov­ered at each cor­ner.

Did we men­tion the ul­tra-cool in­frared night vi­sion cam­era mounted in the nose? Ad­di­tional light­ing on the rig, mounted on the external roll cage assem­bly, comes from a 42-inch Vi­sion X LED light bar, six 12-inch Vi­sion X LED bars mounted in front, back and down the sides, and two more 6-inch Vi­sion X HID lights.

Out back is a cus­tom alu­minum rear bumper fit­ted with a 10,000-pound winch, fold-down step, two 30K heavy-duty swivel shack­les, an­other air line hookup, and a bat­tery hookup, along with an elec­tric fuel pump drain. Be­hind the swing-out tire car­rier is a land an­chor for winches and an as­sort­ment of hand tools. The roof rack holds four gas/wa­ter cans, four alu­minum lad­ders and two Pel­i­can stor­age boxes.

The in­side of the Rover is just as in­tri­cate. Matt is cred­ited with most of the in­te­rior mods, in­clud­ing the cus­tom mounts, complete with cup hold­ers for the four bucket seats, each of which fea­tures the Frankenrover logo em­broi­dered in it. A cus­tom Range Rover steer­ing wheel is one of the few ad­di­tions that look any­thing like the stocker. A full roll cage and five-point har­nesses keep the oc­cu­pants safe. A Pi­o­neer 2,000-watt sound sys­tem de­liv­ers power via Polk and JL speak­ers.

And then, there is the trailer. The body

is made from a Land Rover De­fender truck bed and sits on a cus­tom 2x6-inch alu­minum frame. The trailer car­ries 75 gal­lons of fuel, two Odyssey bat­ter­ies, a power in­verter and a Honda gen­er­a­tor. The trailer also swivels on a spe­cial multi-axis cou­pler for complete 360 de­grees of ro­ta­tion.

Frankenrover is prob­a­bly the most complete, most in­tri­cate and most ex­pen­sive diesel en­gine swap ve­hi­cle we’ve ever fea­tured in Ul­ti­mate Diesel Builders Guide.

And much like the movie mon­ster, it is made up of a lot of dif­fer­ent com­po­nents, all tied to­gether by the “mad sci­en­tists” who cre­ated it. UDBG

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