20 YEARS OF DISCO 2
The most versatile 4x4
■ ULTIMATE BUYING GUIDE
■ 10 ESSENTIAL UPGRADES
■ DEVELOPMENT SECRETS
Iwent for the practical Oem-plus theme when building my Discovery 2,’ says Luke Stacey. ‘I wanted it to be a highly capable greenlaner but equally usable as an everyday motor.’ I consider this statement as I watch the D2 climbing Tixover’s steep, newly dug axle-testing section. It twists and contorts, the traction control cutting in and out as the front wheels highpaw the air like a labrador seeking attention.
Hmm... if by highly capable he means unstoppable in anything but near-winch challenge conditions, then yes – this one definitely hits the design brief.
Luke’s self-imposed target was deceptively simple – buy a Land Rover and re-engineer it to his own specification. He even had a wish list to help him find the perfect vehicle.
‘I wanted a Td5 engine for its off-road grunt,’ he says. ‘I also wanted a solid chassis, it needed to be green in colour, and it had to be completely standard because I wanted to make my own mark on it.’ He was even prepared to overlook any minor mechanical faults because his father, Richard, has more than 40 years’ experience as mechanic. As Luke puts it: ‘I had that ace up my sleeve.’
The hunt began but Luke’s diligent searching didn’t find him the right vehicle, until luck played its part. He happened upon a D2 parked at local fuel station with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window. It was green, Td5 (of course) and the chassis was good. All boxes ticked. And the price? Suffice it to say that after some robust negotiation, that came right too.
Sorted. The perfect base. Well, almost. After a week it became obvious it had a faulty fuel pump – the injector seals were shot. Luke and his dad dived in and fixed it with genuine parts; hopefully a fit and forget operation
LRO is pleased to be at least part of Luke’s inspiration for modifying a Discovery 2, following our Spring 2016 issue and the ‘Sorted Disco 2’ feature. He describes this as his benchmark car, and it snowballed from there.
Luke says that tyres are key, stating that there is no point carrying out any single modification for off-road if you don’t first fit the correct tyres for whatever you are planning to do.
So far as style goes he isn’t keen on the battered look and therefore focused on underbody protection and bumpers as his starter. He figured that before spending money on stuff that made it look cool, he had better do his best to protect it from looking scruffy.
Some of the underbody protection is very special indeed. The fuel tank guard is literally bulletproof – Luke managed to get hold of a medium sized sheet of bulletproof armour.
Although not made from such exotic material, the roof rack is another one-off special, fabricated to such a high standard that we all assumed it was an off-the-shelf item. The bumpers, however, are off the shelf; the front is a Shadow HD from First Four.
Notably, Luke opted not to go for a winch, considering it was both extra weight to drag around plus an extra expense that he didn’t deem necessary because he doesn’t off-road alone. Instead he invested in some good recovery equipment, which he carries at all times. From the same supplier comes the Shadow HD steering guard – he loves the way this sits with the bumper: ‘It’s like a tank!’ Bringing up the rear is a Wildbear bumper.
The fully plumbed-in snorkel is not for show, nor are the home-made axle and transmission breathers, which only cost about a tenner. All these paid dividends when he was greenlaning in South Devon recently, went wading and seriously misjudged how deep it was. The engine survived but he did drown the ECU. Thinking quickly he whipped it out of the car and got the hairdryer on it. Phew – disaster averted, and it’s now waterproofed.
Not all the modifications have been strictly functional, though. Luke admits that the +30mm Bulldog wheel spacers and +50mm extended arches serve no practical use apart from making it look cool. Fair enough.
Favourite mod for Luke is the custom Storm Tuning re-map performed by Dan Matthews, complemented by a straight-through exhaust he made with his dad. ‘It’s a real powerhouse compared with a standard D2,’ he says.
And Luke sums it all up brilliantly: ‘The build has been one of laughs, headaches and bonding between father and son, plus testing the relationship between me and my wifeto-be, Jess. I built the D2 on a working man’s budget, saving by undertaking as much work as I could myself – although as a fabricator and welder by trade I’m fortunate that I can make pretty much anything required for it.
‘Combine this with my father’s mechanical skills and we make a great team. I also have the support of a great partner who lets me play out a lot, which helps enormously.’
He says he always looks forward to driving the Land Rover. ‘It’s like a drug,’ says Luke. ‘We use it for camping holidays and we both love it. Jess is even going to use it as our wedding car when we marry in Devon this summer. ‘
Even then, the work will not be all over. Later this year Luke will be fitting a new transfer box with a diff lock facility, having the front prop reconditioned, giving the chassis a good stripdown and applying more corrosion treatment. Many more enjoyable years lie ahead for Luke and his amazing D2.
A sheet of armoured steel was pressed into service as the ultimate fuel tank guard. The hefty Jate recovery rings were fabricated by Luke too. Tread rightly It’s all about tyres. ‘You can do what you like to the rest of the vehicle, but without the right rubber you go nowhere,’ says Luke. He uses Maxxis Bighorn MTS.
Name that Disco tuner
Luke can’t praise the custom re-map done by Dan Matthews of Storm Tuning highly enough. ‘It’s a powerhouse.’
Rack ‘em up
Lovely-looking roof rack is a complete one-off. Why fork out hundreds when you have the skills to construct this?
Durite LED spotlights are attached to the homefabricated rack. The ‘Storm TD5 Tuning’ label in the rear indicates that the entire D2 can light up.
Front bumper and steering protection come from the Shadow range available from First Four. Luke loves their tank-like construction qualities.