STUNNING Td5 90
The rain is hammering down and the wind chill makes it feel many degrees below humane, but the sight of Rob ’Squid’ Cozens’ superb Ford Cosworth Blue 90 marching about the off-road site is enough to warm any Defender fan’s cockles. Taking a short break in the cab with Rob, he begins to explain how his beautiful machine came into existence.
On 9 January 2014, Rob was minding his own business, trundling along the A38 in the Defender that he’d built up, when someone else involved him in their accident. His 90 truck cab barrel-rolled several times before coming to rest, very much the worse for wear – as was Rob. ’I was so gutted by this that I decided, since it was the Defender that saved me, I’d get another and start again, but this time go bigger and better,’ he says.
By the end of February, only eight weeks or so after the accident, Rob had bought a category-c write-off Td5 Defender 90 that had belonged to a local farrier. ’It wasn’t in the best condition but I could see past the superficial dents and scrapes.’ The insurer had classified it as a cat-c write-off because the bulkhead was fine, and it only had dented body panels down the nearside. It already had a new rear crossmember but it was a bit bent and rusty; Rob changed it later. Eventually, he’d like to fit a NAS (North American spec) rear bumper to match the Devon 4x4 front one he fitted during the rebuild.
Before the major rebuild could begin, Rob had to get the former work truck back to roadworthy condition.
’I went through the paperwork and discovered that, for the DVLA to give me the original log book, I had to rebuild the front end and doors and get rid of all the sharp edges ready to go through a VIC [the now-withdrawn Vehicle Identity Check – scheme operated by VOSA] down in Exeter,’ explains Rob.
His first step was to find all the bits he needed, initially searching ebay. But he quickly decided to get his original Defender back from his insurer to strip her for parts – both bodywork and interior items. ’After a heated argument with the insurance company, who wanted my old Defender for parts itself, I won and began taking it apart,’ he says.
’I used the front wing and passenger door and then an old County back instead of a truck cab this time around. I also had to rebuild the hubs, because smashing into the ditch and then a wall had made this go very funny.’
By April 2014, Rob was ready for VOSA to take a look; it passed the VIC, opening the way for the monumental rebuild and modification session that he had planned. But Rob works in the British armed forces and was called away for six months, delaying the start until November. Then things moved quickly.
The big jigsaw puzzle
Once Rob got back from his tour of duty and into the workshop, he completely stripped the Defender, prepping the body panels for an epic respray in Ford Cosworth Blue with a purple pearl finish. Next came the running gear; Terrafirma springs and dampers allround. ’They’re +5in but give about +3in of lift,
’After a heated argument with the insurer, who also wanted my old Defender for parts, I won’
plus I’ve got an inch body lift,’ explains Rob. The body lift is achieved by using eight special aluminium body mount spacers, and longer bolts, from Gwyn Lewis. There are two at the front, two at the rear and four in the centre section of the chassis on each outrigger.
The 3+1 option allows Rob to fit bigger wheels and tyres, in this case 35in x 12.50in wide, on 15in rims. He could have gone larger but he ’didn’t want to go mad’. He’s also fitted Gwyn Lewis dislocation cones at the back and yellow polyurethane everywhere.
As well as lifting the Defender, Rob has swapped the trailing and radius arms. ’I had cheaper arms on my previous truck, and they bent. Okay, it was in a major shunt with a Transit van, but they never seemed that sturdy. These are massive.’ The new arms are from Adrenalin 4x4, front and rear; all four have a six-degree crank to correct caster angles.
Adding a three-inch suspension lift and one inch-body lift meant that Rob needed to change the propshafts to Gwyn Lewis wideyoke shafts at around £400 each, to cope with the increased angles. Having experienced a standard-spec £150 front propshaft fail at 60mph, Rob feels it was money well-spent. The lift also required +3-inch Goodridge extended brake hoses. While he was at it, he fitted axle and transmission breathers too. Talking of brakes, he fitted drilled and vented front discs, and similar solid ones at the rear, via Country Rovers.
Given his terrifying experience in the crash, it’s not surprising that Rob opted for a sixpoint full roll-cage – and it’s properly bolted to the chassis for maximum strength.
With the cage now installed, Rob cut out openings in the hard top to fit station wagon side windows. He also found an old rear door, although it needed work to smarten it up.
’In the end, I found an ex-military rear wing that needed a bit of patchwork but was otherwise ideal,’ he says. With all the body work prepped and complete, Rob sent off the Defender – looking very multi-coloured – to SC Performance in Taunton for its superb paint job. He considered many colours, including going back to the original Kawasaki Green his truck cab had been prior to the smash.
’We considered Candy Red but you see loads that colour. Then we found Ford Cosworth Blue and for a twist we added a purple pearl to it. In the sunlight it looks epic,’ says Rob.
To really bring out the highlights and add a little contrast, Rob chose to have the cage, winch bumper, cheque plating and a few other bits and bobs sprayed metallic black with pearl.
To make sure everyone sees him coming, Rob has installed some seriously effective lights – Lazer Lamps lightbar on the roof, plus a Wipac LED lighting set and halogen Angel Eyes headlights. Upgrading all the lights also helps give the Defender a modern but timeless look.
’Wipac LED lighting sets are also much better than the standard sidelights and they’re better quality than cheaper alternatives I’ve tried before,’ he says.
One of the big-ticket items that Rob transferred from his smashed-up truck cab was the seats. These are genuine Svx-style Recaro G4 Challenge Defender seats; £800 from Devon 4x4 when he bought them brandnew several years ago. ’These helped protect me in the roll-over crash, so I wanted them in the new truck too,’ he explains, and with that sort of investment you can see why he’d want to re-use them on this build.
The rebuild took the best part of 18 months, from buying the Defender to getting it back on the road, but when you look at all the detailed work that Rob and his friends have done, it’s no surprise.
Actions speak louder than words – and riding shotgun in Rob’s 90 as he pushes it effortlessly anywhere and everywhere around this tough off-road site speaks volumes about this 90. It’s certainly not all show and no go; it does everything superbly well and looks a million dollars into