PART 1: Meet our Ul­ti­mate Adventure 2018 rig.

AFOLLOWING OF DIE-HARD en­thu­si­asts is what trans­forms a ve­hi­cle from sim­ple trans­porta­tion into an icon. Sure, the top of the pile be­longs to Jeep—at least in the USA. That’s for sev­eral rea­sons. Jeep was the first mass-pro­duced and widely avail­able 4x4. Over the years, sev­eral mod­els have mixed ex­treme of­froad ca­pa­bil­ity, looks, and rugged­ness. But an­other brand with his­tory al­most as old as Jeep car­ries quite a bit of off-road clout in­ter­na­tion­ally too. That’s Land Rover.

The prob­lem with Land Rovers in the USA is that they were (and are) ini­tially ex­pen­sive. Parts could be ex­pen­sive and hard to get too. The com­pany just didn’t sell many ve­hi­cles here com­pared to Jeeps and Bron­cos and other 4x4s avail­able in Amer­ica since the 1940s. Also, rather than the bare-bones util­i­tar­ian mod­els avail­able else­where in the world, most Land Rover prod­uct sold in the USA were all tarted up with lux­ury fluff and chuff. Lux­ury items usu­ally mean elec­tron­ics, ad­mit­tedly not one of the brand’s his­toric strong suits. Long life, mois­ture, vi­bra­tion, and other fac­tors caused the dreaded Lu­cas elec­tri­cal sys­tems to fail with fer­vor and fre­quency, ding­ing the brand’s rep­u­ta­tion here in the colonies. But else­where in the world the Spar­tan Land Rover mod­els just kept chug­ging away on farms, ranches, cities, and re­mote lo­ca­tions, for mil­i­taries, civil­ians, cor­po­ra­tions, and more, of­ten in coun­tries where Jeep suf­fered the sim­i­lar cost and sup­ply prob­lems that Land Rover suf­fered in the USA. Off-road­ing in Africa, Aus­tralia, Asia, and South Amer­ica has al­ways in­cluded Land Rover prod­ucts.

So de­spite this his­tory and Land Rover’s off-road clout, Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Of­fRoad hasn’t messed with a Rover prod­uct for many years (if ever). But Ul­ti­mate Adventure 2018 will rec­tify that. We are tak­ing the brand’s flag­ship Range Rover model and de-luxo­barg­ing it. It will still pay homage to Land Rover prod­ucts and ad­ven­tures of the past, but it will also be big, bad, and dif­fer­ent.

With a tip of our pith hel­met we say, “Chee­rio, govna!” and in­tro­duce you to the of­fi­cial ve­hi­cle of the Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road 2018 Ul­ti­mate Adventure, the Derange Rover. With help from our UA spon­sors and oth­ers, we will trans­form this 1989 Range Rover Clas­sic from a ne­glected relic of off-road­ing past into some­thing greater than the sum of its parts. As of now the project is just get­ting started, but we al­ready have (or will be us­ing) such parts as a Warn winch, a Cum­mins R2.8 tur­bod­iesel, sus­pen­sion parts from Sky­jacker, big ol’ 38-inch Falken tires, a T-case sys­tem from Of­froad De­sign, a pair of Ul­ti­amte Dana 60s from Dana, and some parts from Of­froad Power Prod­ucts. Tune in reg­u­larly. You’re not gonna want to miss this one!

1 The in­te­rior of the Rover was in pretty good shape, although there had clearly been an is­sue with the wiring to con­trol the seats, and some of the plas­tic in the dash was ac­tively turn­ing into plas­tic pow­der. In the back was a spare ZF trans­mis­sion and one of the more de­sir­able LT230 gear-driven T-cases. The pre­vi­ous owner told us the trans­mis­sion in­stalled in the Rover was no good. Ei­ther way, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter since we’re us­ing nei­ther the trans­mis­sion nor trans­fer case in our project.

2 The pre­vi­ous owner told us that the ve­hi­cle wouldn’t run, so we pushed it out of the spot it had oc­cu­pied and then winched it onto our trailer. The steer­ing box was also out of the ve­hi­cle and the track bar was dis­con­nected, which made mov­ing the rig an ex­pe­ri­ence.

3 Un­der the hood of the Range Rover is what looks like a rel­a­tively fresh 3.9L V-8 that Edi­tor Hazel is al­ready eye­balling for one of his projects. We’re guess­ing some­one had it in­stalled and, shortly af­ter the trans­mis­sion gave out, gave up on the ve­hi­cle. Out of cu­rios­ity we added a bat­tery and fed the en­gine some ether. It ran but didn’t sound great (watch the video in the web ver­sion of this ar­ti­cle). Maybe a lifter has col­lapsed, caus­ing the loud tick?

4 Here’s the spare trans­mis­sion that in­hab­ited the back of the Range Rover since the trans­mis­sion in it gave up the ghost. Un­der the trans­mis­sion we found the miss­ing steer­ing box. Un­for­tu­nately the ex­tra weight of these parts in the back of the rig has done the rear coil springs no fa­vors. Even un­loaded, the Rover has a nasty gangsta lean to the pas­sen­ger side. We have a few tricks up our sleeves and ideas when it comes to fix­ing the lean and maybe adding a lit­tle sus­pen­sion lift.

5 With our new toy home, we rolled it off the trailer and pushed it into our shop with our 1949 Willys truck, since push­ing the Rover by hand hadn’t gone well. Then we started right away tear­ing the rig apart to prep for a driv­e­train swap, a rollcage, and some new wiring.

When build­ing a rollcage in a ve­hi­cle like this, it makes sense (but isn’t nec­es­sar­ily easy) to re­move al­most all of the in­te­rior parts. That way the cage can be build tight to the in­ner structure. This also al­lows us to sim­plify the wiring and re­move things like the non­func­tional and heavy elec­tric front seats. We will build the cage so that we can re-cre­ate some sort of dash­board and also to fit around the fac­tory rear seats so we can in­stall them for back-seat pas­sen­gers af­ter the Ul­ti­mate Adventure.

We pulled the front end apart to ex­tract the en­gine, fol­lowed by the trans­mis­sion and trans­fer case. Even the fac­tory axles are go­ing. Cum­mins is back as the Of­fi­cial Tur­bod­iesel of Ul­ti­mate Adventure, so we are more than happy for the chance to stuff an R2.8 in the en­gine bay. Be­hind that we will run a five-speed man­ual be­cause we like man­u­als, but Axis In­dus­tries has adapters for GM autos as well as adapters and a con­troller sys­tem for the new Chrysler 845RE eight-speed auto. We plan to keep most of the Range Rover sus­pen­sion but run Ul­ti­mate Dana 60 axles in­tended for a JK. Our plan for now is to re­pur­pose some Sky­jacker parts like springs, shocks, and maybe a con­trol arm or two in the Derange Rover.

We pulled the light­weight Rover V-8 for edi­tor 8 Hazel. It’s ap­par­ently a very pop­u­lar swap out­side the USA. We un­der­stand why he wants it, but if it turns out that he doesn’t want it, we bet we can find it an­other home.

We guessti­mated that the gas tank of the Rover is good to hold about 17 gal­lons. We’re pretty sure it won’t mind if we re­use it to hold diesel. It does tuck nicely up and out of the way be­tween the fram­erails of the Rover and has a skid­plate we’d like to beef up and re­use. We ex­pect the R2.8 to get in the neigh­bor­hood of 20 mph, so the Derange Rover should be able to go some­where near 340 miles on one tank, maybe more.

Not long af­ter we got the old en­gine out 10

of the way, we re­ceived one awe­some de­liv­ery. The R2.8 from Cum­mins is a great en­gine for swaps into Jeeps, Toy­otas, Rovers, Nis­sans, Fords, Chevys…heck, just about what­ever you can imag­ine. The cost gets you a new en­gine with a warranty, an en­gine har­ness and com­puter, a fuel sys­tem, throt­tle pedal, an owner’s man­ual and in­stal­la­tion guide, and more. We’re pretty sure we can get the tur­bod­iesel to run in the crate.

What does search­ing Craigslist for old 4x4s un­der $1,000 get you? How about a di­lap­i­dated 1989 Range Rover Clas­sic with what turns out to be a fairly de­sir­able Great Di­vide Ex­pe­di­tion alu­minum front bumper for a pal­try $600. The pre­vi­ous owner bought...


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