20 YEARS OF DISCO 2

The most ver­sa­tile 4x4

LRO (UK) - - Front Page - WORDS: JERRY THURSTON. PHO­TOS: ALEX TAP­LEY

■ 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.

Bul­let­proof

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?

Light­ing up

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.

Pro­tec­tion

Front bumper and steer­ing pro­tec­tion come from the Shadow range avail­able from First Four. Luke loves their tank-like con­struc­tion qual­i­ties.

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