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