Show notes for podcast #132
Principles: The Classic Defender for Overlanding Travel
Graeme Bell, Scott Brady, Stephan Edwards, and Matt Scott discuss the principles of selecting and modifying a classic Land Rover Defender for Overland Travel. We deep dive on drivetrain choices, model configurations and best practices for modifications learned while traveling in defenders on five continents.
Graeme Bell is a full time overlander and author. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa but considers Cape Town home. He is currently travelling the planet with his wife Luisa and two children, Keelan and Jessica, in a Land Rover Defender 130 affectionately known as Mafuta. @graeme.r.bell
Stephan Edwardsis the Associate Editor of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. He and his wife Julie once bought an old Land Rover sight-unseen from strangers on the internet in a country they'd never been to, and drove it through half of Africa. Currently based in Montana, he still drives that Land Rover every day. Stephan's travel and automotive writing and photography have appeared in Road & Track, Overland Journal, and Adventure Journal. Find him at @venturesomeoverland on Instagram.
Scott Brady is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Matthew Scott is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most remote places by 4WD and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. He is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore
FOLEY Build - Restore - Modify
PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ONLY WORK ON CLASSIC DEFENDERS 1983 - 2016
Classic Defenders for Overlanding Podcast
Scott Brady: This content is brought to you by Overland Journal, our premium quality print publication. The magazine was founded in 2006 with the goal of providing independent equipment and vehicle reviews along with the most stunning adventures and photography. We care deeply about the countries and cultures. We visit and share our experiences freely with our readers. We also have zero advertorial policy and do not accept any advertiser compensation for our reviews. I by subscribing to Overland Journal, you're helping to support our employee owned and veteran owned publication. Your support also provides resources and funding for content like you are watching or listening to right now. You can subscribe directly on our website. At Overland journal.com [00:01:00] well welcome to the podcast guys. So we are gonna talk today about classic defenders, also known as mental illness.
Matt Scott: So, yeah, yeah. Um, why ? Did your dad not love you? No. I mean, obviously defenders are super cool, super iconic. If you're watching on YouTube, I guess you really can't see, but, but there's one sitting right there. This guy's driven around the world in. And, uh, geez, where do we start with them?
Scott Brady: Well, let's first kind of introduce, I guess, the people on the podcast and their relationship to classic defenders, which all of us have had some variant, including your Series Rover. So, I guess we can, we can start with Graham. So talk to me about your history with classic defenders. Obviously you have your one 30 that's gone through a bunch of different iterations, but let's talk about when you [00:02:00] first started traveling in defenders. How many different defenders have you had and what were they and kind of what your current model is?
Graham: I was looking for a Toyota Hilux. And I couldn't afford one. This is back in the nineties, and I found an ex-military series three for half the price of a hilux and I thought, oh, I like these things.
Scott Brady: It looks cool.
Matt Scott: Yeah, I have heard that story. That same thing with Land Rover people so many times. Like, like, and same thing for me, like when I got my first Land Rover discovery, I wanted a Jeep Wrangler. Like a yj, like the crappiest one that you could find. Couldn't do that. So got a Land Rover. Yeah. I mean works.
Graham: Yeah. Yeah. So, hilux, like had actually rescued us from a, a river. I had this South African made full of nomad I Antarctica by recently the Crappies four by four or four wheel drive or offroad vehicle, whatever you wanna call it. Ever made now got stuck [00:03:00] in a river and as Hilux came along and saved us and I'm like, I've gotta get me one of those. And then I couldn't, I couldn't afford it, you know, but it in South Africa, back in those days, the military used Land Rovers, so there was a glut of old Land Rovers you could get. Cheapest chips. So I bought the series. And broke the gear box within the first day. And then it was a lesson, it was like a, a sign of things to come. And then from there, I, you know, you get bitten by the bike. You just fall in love with them and they're just so full of cash.
Matt Scott: And there's a great community of people around Land Rovers, right? Like, I think it's, you know, the, the, the vehicles kind of make you angry, but the people make you happy. That's true.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And, and also, I, I actually think it's kind of like, I've never, I've never really done drugs, but I can kind of imagine like, it's like in a bit of an addiction because when a Land Rover is working properly, it's like nothing else. Like they, they really are, I remember like the, the Range Rover Classic that I had. When that car was, when everything was [00:04:00] working, it was magic, but then they like, that doesn't always happen. But then you're always like clawing back to that moment of time when they were.
Matt Scott: But that's what's called an abusive relationship
Scott Brady: I know, I know.
Matt Scott: I believe that is, I believe that is a common.
Scott Brady: And I kept going back like Land Rover after Land Rover, after Land Rover. I kept going back. All right, so you, so your first, your first Land Rover was a series ex-military.
Graham: Yeah. Pickup. Um, then I got my hands on a, V8 one 10, which is basically, the first defender. And that was amazing.
Scott Brady: And that was a carburetor, was it?
Matt Scott: Three five, right?
Graham: Yeah, three five. V8 with the.
Scott Brady: I heard those were actually pretty good. I think.
Scott Brady: I heard they were pretty good.
Graham: But your whole travel budget was gone just on fuel. You know, you're like, is it really that possible that drinks so much. Yeah. And I was a broke 20 whatever year old. You know. [00:05:00] I get to where I'm going. I'm like, I'm not be able to fully get back.
Scott Brady: I can't even eat.
Graham: Yeah. Luckily I bought the beers before I put the floor. And then, yeah, so then from there, then I got another, I think a range over classic, which was the worst, worst idea ever.
Scott Brady: And then you came back for more on a range over classic a few years ago, right? . Graham: Right, right. Luckily I didn't invest in that one. I just drove it around the US. And then we were, we were looking at driving up to Doris alum from Cape Town, and I had a, I bought an ex fire truck, R six. It was a series three, the Land Rover, station wagon with the flat front. They go with the R six, had a straight six and it, mine had been swapped out for a 4.1 shave engine and, excuse me, drove that around South Africa. Didn't let me down. But I wasn't quite convinced that there was the kind of vehicle that I should try and go up to dire with, with the kids. So we started shopping around, then I got the [00:06:00] TD five, the one 30. And that was just perfect. It just, and again, I looked at all the different vehicles available. I looked at the Nissan Patrols, the Land Cruisers, all of that. And double Cab Land Cruiser would've cost me double. What the, the one 30? It's, it's flipped now. The, the one 30 s now worth double the Land Cruiser. Almost, not quite, but yeah, that's, that's where it all started with that, with that one 30 and that she's been now our main vehicle for travel since 2009.
Scott Brady: Okay. Yeah. That's, it's coming up on 15 years. Yeah. That's amazing. Yeah. Very cool. All right, Steve, so tell us about your affliction. Like, this is, it feels like an AA meeting now.
Yeah, kinda going around the room.
Steve: You know, the, the through thing here with myself and Graham, is our Land Rover Odyssey also started in Africa. So my wife Julie and I are living in Botswana. And we initially, when we moved to Ha, we bought a Mitsubishi Pierro, [00:07:00] and.
Matt Scott: Super underrated, by the way.
Steve: It was a great vehicle. Until I blew apart some head gasket, in the middle of nowhere in Caala, in the Kalahari Desert. And it's probably a story for another podcast, but, we were on the lookout for another sort of adventure vehicle and we also were eyeballing a Land Cruiser. It was actually, it was a, I think it was a mid eighties, like 70 series. It had a pop top. It had sort of all the stuff we wanted. And we were pretty close to purchasing that vehicle. But we were kind of second in line, um, on the sort of purchase process. And the person who was ahead of us in line actually bought the, bought the vehicle. I mentioned this because that truck is actually in the Land Cruiser Museum now.
Scott Brady: In Utah.
Steve: In the Heritage Museum in Salt Lake City. So a museum undercut us on our purchase of a Land Cruiser, so.[00:08:00] So we were kind of poking around again for, for another venture vehicle and living in southern Africa in Botswana. You know, they're, the land rovers are everywhere, right? And they just look amazing.
Scott Brady: Of course.
Steve: They just exude, they exude adventure. Right? And, I always, because always kind of on the fence of them, because the only thing I knew about them is, well, maybe they're unreliable or they're uncomfortable, or they're, you know, but they look amazing, right? So I was poking around in one of the over landing Africa Facebook groups, one day and I saw this one 10 van, two door, and had the roof rack and the tens.
Matt Scott: I love the two door one tens.
Scott Brady: Yeah, totally.
Steve: And the fridge had like everything we really wanted. And I was like, oh, that's really cool. So I kind of made a note and like 10 minutes later, my wife Julie, she's at work, she texts me and she says, Hey, did [00:09:00] you see that Land Rover on the Facebook group ? I said, yes, I did see that Land Rover. She said, what do you think about that? I said, I don't know. I'm gonna, I'm gonna message the owners. So I did. And it turned out to be an American couple who was traveling through Africa. And they had purchased the, the vehicle from a British couple who had driven it all the way from the UK to Cape Town. So it had already kind of done like a lap and a half of the continent. . So I thought, well, that's at least proven a little bit of a good sign. Yeah. Right.
Graham: That just means it's ready to break down.
Steve: Right, right, right.
Matt Scott: As opposed to. They don't really break down that much. Right.
Scott Brady: They really don't. They really don't.
Steve: No, I, and I think, so it was a UK originally, UK vehicle.
Scott Brady: Who prepped the vehicle in the uk? Was it a Foley's vehicle or?
Steve: No, it was just, it was like a plumber's van. It was like a commercial vehicle. And the people who, who made the original trip down from the UK to Africa, they, they kind of [00:10:00] did have the basic stuff right. The roof rack, the had some drawers, the tent, and it was very, very, very basic. They put new seats in it, and that was basically it. And had, you know, had the whole thing main, the maintenance, regular maintenance done. So it was extremely basic, which is, I don't know, kind of what we were looking for. Right. And if you're looking for like a really simple basic vehicle you can do far worse than the mid nineties Land Rover. And so ours is a, it's a 1992, so it's a 200 TDI, kind of the last of the 200 TDIs, five speed and really very little in the terms of mechanical, modifications or upgrades. It's, we tried to keep it almost entirely stock, replace parts with Land Rover parts, and just try to keep things as like possible as yeah, simple and as stock as possible. So [00:11:00] the, the one issue with this vehicle, when we decided to buy it was a, it was located in o Sababa, not anywhere close to Botswana. So we went back and forth with the, with the sellers and. He said, he said, well, you know something, there's something he probably needs new rear shocks. I was like, okay. So, um, I bought some shocks and stuffed in my suitcase and we flew one way from, uh, Botswana to Addis. And they picked us up and two days later we were driving south back to back to Botswana. So then we spent, you know, a couple months just driving around east and Southern Africa. And that begins the land, you know, the Land Rover love affair.
Scott Brady: And then, and then you enjoyed the vehicle so much and it was just old enough when you returned back to the US.
Scott Brady: That you decided to ship it?
Steve: Yep. Yeah, we put it on a container in Cape Town and shipped it to Vancouver, British Columbia. So it actually took like two months. It was a long, it was a [00:12:00] long void.
Matt Scott: Yeah. That's a, that's probably one of the longest sea voyages that you could do.
Scott Brady: I would think so, yeah.
Steve: And it ended up being the less expensive option. Interestingly, the shipping agent said, look, if you're willing to wait you know, for a while it's gonna cost you less money. So yeah, it was, it was actually pretty seamless in terms of shipping. Like you always hear nightmares about shipping vehicles, but, we had zero issues and, and.
Scott Brady: Interesting that you chose to ship it into Canada. Do, do one of you have a Canadian passport or what decided on.
Steve: No, we just shipped it to, to Canada and we, it was just basically on a t I p Yeah. Essentially, and it was less expensive and it was pretty close to our home in Montana.
Matt Scott: I think it's easier to send it into Canada or like maybe people will send stuff into the Vera Cruise and you just avoid the whole, the whole port system.
Graham: Yeah. But I've heard horror stories.
Scott Brady: The, the port suspicions around defenders. Yeah.
Steve: Yeah. And. I don't know. It was, it was fantastic though, when we opened the container and I hooked up the battery, I turned the key [00:13:00] and it started on the first after two months in a container, started on the first turn of the key. And so.
Matt Scott: It's a good, loyal dog.
Steve: It is. Right?
Graham: I, I had exactly the opposite experience. We, shipped the Land Rover from Florida to the uk. It was just after I'd finished rebuilding it as a camper and, yeah. Couldn't start it. But luckily I had borrowed somebody's car that I, anyway, I just carried on tugging at this thing. In second. And until eventually it splattered to life, and then I had to drive it across the entire country. I, you're right, it's traumatizing driving.
Matt Scott: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, like, listen, I'm a recovering addict. Addict to myself, , I'm, I'm definitely still Land Rover curious, but I've moved on to German things, Right. That tend to.
Scott Brady: Have you owned any other Land Rovers or is this.
Steve: Of course, once course, yeah. Yeah. I had a soft ash, range of a classic for a little while. Scott Brady: Boy, those cars are just awesome when they work. They are just, yeah.
Steve: This one had a [00:14:00] 4.6 block from Atlantic British. And so it was a little bit, had a little bit more, a little more oomph behind it.
Matt Scott: Slightly faster 1960s Buick engine.
Steve: Yeah, right, exactly. That architecture is pretty ancient. But yeah, also, a really great vehicle. It gave us more headaches than I think the defender ever has. Honestly. The defender's been dead reliable. The only time anything is broken on that machine is, when I've allowed other people to work on it.
Scott Brady: Yeah, sure, and you just have to be diligent with 'em. That's it. You know?
Matt Scott: Yeah. Let's, let's dive into that.
Scott Brady: So one more, one more. We gotta talk about you and your land Rovers and my land Rovers. Real quick. We'll finish that up.
Matt Scott: All right. All right. That's what'll talk about reliability.
Scott Brady: I know. We, I know it's, it is the elephant. It is the elephant in the room, but, all right. And I, and I'm gonna be the, I'm gonna be the, contrarian on that because I'm actually not so convinced that defenders are that.
Matt Scott: I don't think they're that bad.
Graham: I have a theory about that. [00:15:00] I'll share that.
Scott Brady: I mean, we're talking about classic defenders, but, no. So lots of land rovers in my life. Lots of time in defenders, fortunately all around the world. Not as, not quite as many, I think only five continents. So not as many as, as Graham over here, but, we have definitely had great experiences in classic defenders and they've been, they've never left me stranded. And I had a TD five, with a door mobile conversion on it for several years that I was babysitting for a good friend of mine. We worked out an agreement where I paid him to babysit his car in the United States with, with the Guatemala plates. So it was a way.
Steve: Not sketchy at all.
Scott Brady: Not at all. It was a, no, it was totally legit. It was totally legit. So, it's basically, yeah, it's a rental agreement, not an ownership. So, and that was a beautiful car. The TD five was wonderful. I was really impressed with the motor. It was a very reliable vehicle. Actually, very few leaks even. They [00:16:00] continued to improve that, improve that through the, through life cycle. Drove around Iceland in a 2015 defender.
Matt Scott: I remember when you did that.
Scott Brady: So, yeah. Yeah, it had the new dash. So even though it was minus 8,000 or whatever it was in January it had heated seats from the factory and it had the, the vents in the dash and it actually was a totally comfortable vehicle to drive, even in really cold condition.
Steve: And that was kind of near the end of the run.
Scott Brady: It was.
Steve: For the OG defender.
Graham: So the TD four, the, the pure.
Scott Brady: It was, it was the Puma motor. Exactly. And it was great six speed manual, which I don't know that that was actually an advantage, the six speed. It was, you know, with that much torque and how it made the torque, um, you were shifting a lot. Which I didn't seem to be an advantage, but right now I have, this, the defender that's here in the same room with us since we, you know, we have classic defenders representing right now in the podcast. But, this is a 1986 defender, one 10. [00:17:00] It is a two door. It was originally a pickup, so it was purchased out of the uk and I have it with a good friend of mine, Marcos West Camp. And we. We use the vehicle together on and off. And, it has been totally reliable. It has started every single time. The one thing about this vehicle that has been an issue though, it's the leaks and I think it's because I don't drive it that often. So it, it just it has developed a lot of really bad leak.
Matt Scott: Everything leak.
Graham: So there's a puddle of power steering.
Scott Brady: Yeah. The power steering it, like it, pretty much all of it is leaking now, so I just need to go from front to back and, and replace all of those seals. But it has been a joy to drive. It's got the soft top on it, roll the sides up in the summertime and Prescott and there's few things that'll make me smile as much as that car will. So, you know, land Rovers are, defenders are something that I have always loved and I think it goes back to Mutual of Omaha [00:18:00] looking at them, going across the African Savannah, it just kind of buried into my psyche that that is. An adventure vehicle, so. And how about you, Matt?
Matt Scott:I think I'm here because of Land Rover.
Scott Brady: You are actually, yeah. You, you would just stop working for Land Rover when you pulled up in the parking lot.
Matt Scott: Even before that. Before that I got a, I got a, a discovery one for, you know, probably like an Xbox and a ham sandwich that I traded for it. And, it was really cheap. It was, I think it was Rioja red. It was a D one. I love that car. I, I, I think to this day it's the, maybe, maybe the car I've owned the longest. Which is maybe disturbing. He's wrapping the, the disco t-shirt . But I learned everything on that car. I, I got it when I was 16. I, I spent my high school graduation money buying an old man Emu Lyft from Expedition Exchange. It's why I joined Expedition Portal at 16, and that is really what I think led me [00:19:00] here. And then I, man, then I went to college and I, I became learned and I traded it for a Land cruiser. And then I traded that Land Cruiser for a crotch rocket in February in Chicago. So that really wasn't smart. Steve: You learned, I thought you said you learned.
Matt Scott:Yeah. Yeah. It does get complicated from there. But when I had moved to Prescott to work for Overland Journal and exhibition portal 2011 or something, I had a Jeep and I traded that for a series two A 1 0 9. His name was Ralph.
Scott Brady: Yeah, Ralph was awesome.
Matt Scott: Ralph was really cool. Ralph was cooler than me, but Ralph leaked a lot. And, I, I just really couldn't afford to maintain or put that much emphasis in that vehicle. Like I couldn't, I took it on a few trips and it was a miracle that it survived and it was one of the more emotional driving experiences that I've ever had in a vehicle. [00:20:00] You really had to work it. You were, you were in it. There was no power steering it really, I like to think. Taught me how to drive off road because it's just.
Scott Brady: You did, you drew, you drove it offroad. I mean, I have pictures of that thing. Yeah. air under the tires, climbing up that shelf outside of Cottonwood.
Matt Scott: I remember that photo. And the, the, the scariest thing to that was, the way the, the, the BrakeMaster cylinder was on the series two A 1 0 9 s as you had to bleed them at like a four, you had to literally put the, the, like the front of the vehicle at a 45 degree angle to get this air bubble to come out. So if you wanted the brakes to work, you had to get really good at like pumping 'em like five times. So that was really terrifying.
Scott Brady: I remember that moment.
Matt Scott: But you know, there's such, there's such simple vehicles and I will, I will agree with when people say land rovers aren't reliable unfortunately, it's probably a fact. [00:21:00] I don't know if.
Scott Brady: Not all Land Rovers, that’s my argument.
Matt Scott: I don't know if the rovers and the defenders necessarily deserve that reputation. Scott Brady: That's, that's what I would agree with.
Matt Scott: I think there was a lot of, you know, land Rover. Land Rover never does things the easy way and they never really used the best suppliers, I guess is.
Graham: Oh, you're talking about the Prince of Darkness? Lucas?
Matt Scott: Lucas. Lucas, yeah. Yeah. And then they went to bmw. You know, like from, from an American perspective, you know, we stopped getting the defender in 97. We only got the one 10 for one year. They were, for all intents and purposes, a novelty. Yeah.
Scott Brady: They were marketing exercises for land rover.
Matt Scott: They were, they, there weren't that many around. A lot of 'em were, were owned by collectors. You didn't really see that many of them being used. So enthusiasts of until the 25 year rule kicked in and 83. model year vehicles could be brought in with one 10 s and [00:22:00] nineties and things. Most of the Land Rover community in the US was, well, it was discoveries and it was Range Rovers and those vehicles had so many electronics that maybe Land Rover didn't have any business doing. But they were also luxury vehicles that depreciated rapidly and they weren't historically maintained.
Scott Brady: Yeah, after the first owner, they were typically not maintained.
Matt Scott: Yeah. So I think that you have to look at, there's like the defender, the classic defender, and then there's everything else, and they're almost two different companies. You know, so I think when we kind of joke about, about Land Rover and, and it not being super reliable or them being super dependable, I think it, it, it is maybe a little bit of an American perspective. because of what we were able to get.
Scott Brady: You know, I think it applies though around if you talk to an Australian overlander, they're gonna say the same thing about Land Rovers. But again, like the whole thing is elevated though. If [00:23:00] you're in Australia, you're comparing a a one 10, classic one 10 to a 70 series Land Cruiser. So like the, like even the land cruisers are better there. So of, you know, I think the whole, the whole high watermark moves. Yeah. In places like South Africa and in Australia where the vehicles are just better in general. You could get a Nissan Patrol, which is a, an amazing, we never got that car other than in the sixties. But, so for the most part, I think that Land Rover defenders are. Are quite reliable, but they have some downsides. I mean, it's just important to talk about it. The, the ear, up until the last couple years, they, they didn't have any form of traction control, so they were open differentials other than the center differential lock. And Land Rover achieved traction through lots of articulation, which also made them a little more, sporting on the road because they had so much body roll. So they, you know, they'd never had differential locks like the Land Cruiser did. So they, or the Jeep Wrangler or a G [00:24:00] Wagon. So they never quite performed at the same level off-road as those other marks. And you know, now of course a modern defender has diff locks, but, you could get traction control in the later years. Which also really made a huge difference for those cars. I drove one with traction control. You combined that articulation with just a little bit. Break traction control. And it did.
Matt Scott: Did the TD five get the traction control?
Graham: No, no.
Matt Scott: It was after that.
Graham: It basically got a, a new motor and an ecu.
Matt Scott: Gotcha, okay.
Graham: It was not much.
Matt Scott: That was quite different because there was a point when they started integrating like some discovery two stuff into them, I want to say with Traction Control.
Scott Brady: Oh yeah, for sure. I mean the, the Puma model that I had in Iceland had ABS and traction control which was nice on the ice.
Matt Scott: When I was running the magazine in Australia, I had a, I think it was a 2016, it was like the final edition. And I want to say that there's two Pumas. There was a two four, which was earlier and two Two, which was later. [00:25:00] And I think it was a Getrag six speed from a Mustang or something. Nice gearbox, nice engine. But then it was all working together with the same transfer case. LT two 30 from L two 30, like, which is very reliable. But you know, you push the clutch in and then on a 2016 vehicle you could hear the dry line slap and you're like, I don't think the German gearbox likes this. Yeah.
Graham: I don't know if I'd, you know, the p I dunno if I consider that a classic defender. Obviously it is. But it was just so different from what came before it. So my, my theory on the reliability thing and talking about you, you're saying about how it is in the States now globally, you must remember a lot of these, like the classic Defenders series, et cetera, they were, used by the military in a lot of these countries, especially the ex British colonies, Australia, South Africa Sure. And there was just hundreds, thousands of these vehicles bobbing about and like, [00:26:00] like what I had is I, a lot of people buy an ex-military vehicle. And then they fix it themselves. And I think that was the thing a few years ago, south af uh, land Rover was saying that what 75% of all land Rovers ever made are still on the road. Right. But they're being maintained by the guy that's driving it. So you have a lot of guys like me, backyard mechanics, don't know his shit. Can I swear? No, not too much. Okay. And buy a vehicle not really knowing what to do with the thing. It breaks down. Okay. And I go like sweat and figure out how to fix it.
And you see these guys on the side of the road, you know, and it's all a learning process when you're buying a secondhand vehicle that's been beaten to death by soldiers, in some cases. And then you gotta fix it yourself and, and, and, because you don't want to take it to Land Rover. The Land Rover spares, for instance, are very expensive. So what you do is you get to crappy off the market stuff like, What's it? Brick part.
Steve: The blue boxes, the Brit part. [00:27:00]
Graham: There's another name for it, but I'm not allowed to say it. But yeah, what you, you hit the nail on the head. The thing about reliability with these vehicles is keeping them stock and using the best parts you can afford. In your case, it's to be the Land Rover parts. But I've had it so many times where I've, you know, you know, broke ass overlander and I, I get the part I can't afford, but it's a false economy because guess what? You're sitting on the side of the road. 2000 Ks later fixing what you just fixed. So from the reliability point of view, I mean, my, my defender got from Cape Town all the way up to Doris Alarm, all the way back down. Didn't touch much. Little box, shipped over to South America. Drove all the way up around Brazil, right to the top, all the way back down again. All the way down to . Nothing. Not at day's problems. Soon as I hit altitude, everything started going a little bit quick.
Scott Brady: Oh, interesting.
Graham: So now you're driving at. What's 5,000 meters in feet? [00:28:00] That's 15,000 feet. The cooling system starts freaking out. Everything starts getting a little bit under pressure. And then, that's, that's really for me is like, you're overloaded. You're at 15,000 feet. Your cooling system is, doesn't know what the heck's going on.
Scott Brady: You're asking a lot from it. Yeah.
Graham: Yeah. And then that kind of sets off a chain of events, which kind of, well for me anyway, made the vehicle a little bit less reliable than it was before, but it's because I was putting good in pressure. An extreme situation.
Steve: I think that's the important point. Sort of understanding the, the limit to the vehicle. Right. Whether that's how fast you can drive down the interstate, which is not very fast. Or.
Scott Brady: 50 miles an hour in the case of the one behind you.
Steve: Right. Or what kind of say offered terrain you're tackling. Right. I think that goes a long ways cuz the classic defender is, A machine that gives you a lot of feedback, as to what's going on with the vehicle as you're [00:29:00] driving it. Mechanical feedback, road feel, all those different things. And so.
Scott Brady: All the sounds, smells.
Steve: All the sounds. All the smells. What's that?
Scott Brady: Gear Oil.
Steve: What's that?
Scott Brady: Gear oil. Gear oil.
Steve: So much gear oil. Yeah. But yeah, so like it's giving you a lot of information and I think paying attention to that information is really important. I mean, that goes for any classic car, but I think in a defender when you're putting it maybe through its paces in a remote location or an off-road context yeah. Understanding those, those limits because the defender's great. Up until a certain point, like you're mentioning, you know, it doesn't have the locking differentials. It doesn't necessarily have, you know, maybe the, the rubber, you know, if you're running Scott Brady: Smaller tires.
Steve: Yeah, yeah. If you're running 10 to fit smaller stock tires. And yeah, just, you know, being aware of those things. So if you keep the vehicle and it's sort of a sweet spot and you're highly conscious of what's going on with vehicle as you [00:30:00] drive it, then they're awesome.
Scott Brady: I think that's the case. I mean, the one, the one here in the room with us is a stock vehicle. like even the front bumper is something that was sold by Land Rover. It's the safety devices. front bumper. It's, it's got Michelin Xcl s it's factory suspension. I mean, there's lit, there's no modifications to the car. And it, every time it starts, it drives great. It is too low geared. So like the 50 miles an hour is really rough. Cause that is a 1.6 to one high range. So it, it, this was a farm implement in the UK somewhere at a farm. You know, it was, it was the one with the 1.6 transfer case high range. So, you know, that's the low range of a sprinter. Right. It was 1.6. And that's the high range in this, in this vehicle.
Matt Scott: So the discoveries were like 1.2.
Scott Brady: 1.2, exactly. Yeah. And this, this vehicle would benefit from a, a 1.2 or a 1.4. A lot of defenders came with 1.4 s as well.
Steve: Yeah, we have those, we have that, in our, our transfer cases, higher ratio, just.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that would just take a [00:31:00] little bit of the edge off of the highway driving. And then I'm thinking about maybe doing the 8.25 s that I bought. Off you that are sitting in the back.
Matt Scott: Oh, yeah, yeah. Those things.
Scott Brady: Those are taller.
Steve: But, so for like touring in Africa, sort of having that speed limiter is, is great. Right? You don't wanna be driving fast anyway, for the most part.
Scott Brady: 80 kilometers an hour is, is how fast you drive in know, In a country that doesn't have interstates. So Yeah.
Steve: Bombing down interstate 15, you know, in the middle of nowhere in Utah in a defender is a long, long day. Right.
Graham: Yeah. It's a, it's a different creature. I mean, we did, we drove down West Africa and I don't think I got into fourth gear for months. I would've, I mean, I missed that fourth gear. And then you get to South Africa and you're on, you know, and everyone's driving at 75, 80 miles an hour and you're like, whoa. Yeah.
Scott Brady: Everything's sped up. Everything's sped up.
Graham: The, the funny thing though, sorry to come back to when I first bought the vehicle, I [00:32:00] was the guy driving 75 miles an hour in my TD five. The defender could do it. I'd be overtaking people on the, on the freeway. So their TD five is a bit of a different beast. So you guys are gonna start getting those motors?
Scott Brady: Yes. Soon.
Graham: In the next few years. And they.
Scott Brady: What was the first year?
Scott Brady: Oh, yeah. So it'll be a couple, a couple years.
Matt Scott: Because that was a BMW motor, right?
Graham: No, no, no. It's the last land rover.
Matt Scott: Yeah. Okay.
Graham: It was, it was, it was released under bmw.. It's still a Landover. It's called a storm, actually. The storm.
Matt Scott: Wasn't there like a South African only defender that had a, a straight six?
Graham: Yeah, it had a bmw, BMW 2.8.
Matt Scott: I I, I have a friend Max that has one of those in South African, and he's like, there's like a whole like club around just that engine and just that Land Rover.
Scott Brady: Interesting.
Graham: Yeah. I mean, imagine BMW power and, and reliability. In a defender. Yeah, those are like, what do you call em? Like Hay's Teeth rare. Yeah. Pretty [00:33:00] rare.
Steve: Old Grenadier is going down that the grenadier is going down that pathway.
Scott Brady: Right. Straight straight six.
Steve: Straight six bmw.
Scott Brady: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So let's talk a little bit about modifications because we just kind of dropped this bombshell that Land Rovers in general tend to perform best when they're at or near stock. And I've just never seen a really well executed heavily modified Land Rover unless there's not much of a Land Rover left. But, they do tend to perform really well, close to stock. But there are things that need to be considered. So Graham, what are, what do you feel for your vehicle? A defender One 30, TD five. What were the necessary modifications, for your travels that you made to the vehicle?
Graham: I kept her stock standard, in the beginning when she was a double cab one 30. She good. I basically popped her roof taint on her and I top her at the back with the drawer system and she was ready to go. I think [00:34:00] I changed the tires. I was under the impression that bigger tires were better. Yeah. So I got 32s.
Scott Brady: And what did you find was that Was bigger tires necessary?
Graham: Yeah. A little lot better than those cookie cutter. Yeah. Um, seven 50 sixteens. Sure. I hate those things.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Yeah. It's the only tire that's almost killed me is the one, the seven, four point fives wet. A wet road. Yeah. With no abs.
Graham: Right. No, you don't want that. Yeah. So we kept your stock standard pretty much, I mean, you know, bolted a couple of things on her and that was the one beautiful thing about the defenders is you can just, it's Lego. You know, you can bolt things on them, draw holes in it, you do what you want to, then they just, they just suck it all up. So we kept his standard, but the little, slightly larger tires. And then I changed to 30 threes for the Amazon. Mud terrains. Steve: Mud terrains. Yeah.
Scott Brady: What size tire was that? Like a [00:35:00] 2 55? 85 16?
Graham: It was, 32, 12 0.5 R 15.
Scott Brady: Okay, okay.
Graham: Which was awesome in the jungle in the rainy season, except that it stuck out like two inches on the side. So the entire vehicle was just covered in the inch of mud. So it was dark in there all the time. And every time you open the window, you crank it open, gets some air in there and you hit another puddle and the whole family gets full of mud. And then so that, yeah, that was a bad idea, but yeah. It worked for us. It got us through. We never, we never had problems in the jungles. But then you get back onto normal roads and you're stuck to these huge tires and your wheel bearings start going. So now I'm running a, I went down to 2 85. 75 or 16. And I might even go down to a 2 65. But in terms of future modifications is a few things I'd like to do. Like, change that.
Scott Brady: Did you change the suspension at all?
Graham: Oh, yes, I [00:36:00] did. Yeah. Yeah, right. Sorry. And I found that actually the stock suspension would've been the best bet from the beginning. Maybe with some spaces, quail spaces. But I've been through the gamut with the suspension and, and I, I look back and actually the stop suspension.
Matt Scott: Because don't the one 30 s have that twin spring on the back.
Graham: The little helper spring inside.
Scott Brady: Yeah. That's what, that's what this one has. Although we removed it cuz it was, I mean, it, I don't put anything in it, so it was like, yeah, it rode horribly. But yeah. This one is the high cap rear suspension.
Matt Scott: It gets it gets one row of p Andes from the, the, the local garden store in the back.
Scott Brady: Yes, that's right. Yeah. It basically, it hauls around, occasional mountain bike and Yeah. Groceries from Sprouts.
Graham: Yeah. So the, the future upgrades are, I've lost a few horses over the years, and I think half of that might be because I'm a really bad mechanic. Mm. And it's never really been [00:37:00] surface serviced by a very good mechanic. I've tried adjusting the, the, the, the turbo wastegate and taking out the muffler and doing all these things, trying to get power out of it, especially up at Altitude. And the secret there, and there was, the great thing with the TD five is you just, just connect the m a f and she runs, like she's at sea level. But the thing with the TD five is it's chippable. So you can get, you can get up to 250 horsepower out of it, and the standard is 120.
Matt Scott: Wow.
Graham: Yeah. And you put in a larger inter cooler, you put in a new, you can upgrade the turbos. You, there's a lot of stuff you can do to make it actually quite a performance vehicle. I'm sorry. Relative. It's all relative . Um, yeah, no, this is, sorry, I'm carefully considering the upgrades for the future. I don't need it to be a performance vehicle, but I would like it, uh, to be able to overtake a truck in Baja and not die. Yeah, that would be nice.
Matt Scott: That would be fun. [00:38:00]
Graham: That would be nice. Yeah. Yeah. Or at least not, you know, that thing when you're shifting the seat forward cuz you think of make the trucks good.
Matt Scott: I always, I always find slapping the door panel, encourages a few more horses. Yeah. Yeah.
Scott Brady: So that's been the, essentially the modifications that you've made and it's, it's served well.
Matt Scott: Yeah. So you've obviously done a lot of stuff. The livability, the vehicle and camper and that, that stuff, yeah.
Scott Brady: You added, you did add a camper. So let's talk a little bit about that conversion that you did. Cause you even lop the two back doors off.
Graham: Right. So that was a challenge for me cuz I had two kids. And this was back in 2017 and I wanted to keep on traveling and I knew eventually the kids would wanna move on. So as, now how do you make a vehicle a camper that can accommodate four humans, adults, large people, south African size, and make it comfortable for everyone? And, and, and, and eventually [00:39:00] I figured out, now I'll just make it comfortable for the people in front. And the people in the back just have to suffer. I'm joking, but they actually had larger seats and this, that, and now they just, they didn't have the great visibility. But what's interesting is I bought the defender for $9,000 in 2009. I stripped her down and built, changed her into a camper in Florida in 2017. And I sold all the stuff that I took off for $9,000 , which was pretty cool. And then I basically built the box on the back with a pop top, and then the rear door that you can open, you can, you enter in a nice big back door. The idea was it's all about space and visibility and that, and the defender just took it, you know, I took the whole vehicle apart in a day.
Scott Brady: Who built the camper for you?
Graham: I did.
Scott Brady: Oh, you built the walls and the.
Steve: They, they have a great little, YouTube video on your, on your channel from back then. The sort of details, the whole build. It's really great. Yeah.
Graham: Yeah. I did it in a. In a greenhouse in Florida.
Scott Brady: Fantastic.
Graham: No, it was not [00:40:00] fantastic.
Scott Brady: Oh. I mean, in hindsight, the, I mean, it was terrible, I'm sure at the time, but it was terrible. What a great story. Now. Yeah.
Matt Scott: Hopefully it wasn't a greenhouse in the summer.
Graham: It wasn't, but doesn't matter. In Florida, we had to have an industrial size fan and.
Matt Scott: A hundred percent humidity.
Graham: Flies, otherwise I would've died. But and.
Steve: And the box itself was sort of semi prefab, right? Or did you guys do the whole thing completely custom?
Graham: Everything thing, custom panels It was, total composites. They sent us, the panels, sent us the windows. And the extrusions. And, we had to make a work table out of the, the, the pecking pallets and the, the packing, the, what do you call that wood that comes the, the plywood.
Scott Brady: The pallets.
Graham: The ship came in. Excuse me. I made that to a work table on the, on the coral. You know how in Florida the ground is all coral ? So that's why if you look at my Landy, You look at the back, don't ever take a square to the thing. Just everything.
Scott Brady: Sounds like my house. [00:41:00]
Graham: But, I was very proud. And look, the Landy, the one thing about the Defender, one 30 has got a payload of 1,500 kgs. Which is class leading. That was especially back then.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Over 3000 pounds. Amazing.
Matt Scott: Yeah. That's crazy. Like that's F three 50.
Scott Brady: Yeah. That's one ton territory.
Matt Scott: Like that's twice what my Prospector XL has. Right.
Graham: And then if you look at the frame, this is the thing about the defender is the, the chassis, the frame. That's a truck. Yeah. frame. I look at, I'm driving a, a Dodge Ram 2500. And the frame on that thing is, it doesn't even compare to the defender. The defender. It's like, and that's the thing about the vehicle is it's just so solid and you can do so much with it. You know, and we were very happy with the build that did the whole of West Africa. Because we went to Europe after that and then to West Africa. So all of Southern Africa boxing was perfect and break frame was perfect. Everything was good at that. Our bolt a walkthrough. Yeah. We're very, very [00:42:00] happy with it. And if I look back, I don't think there's another vehicle that I could actually have done that with other than a Toyota land cruiser.
Scott Brady: Like a troope or something.
Graham: Yeah. But they would've still involve a lot more cutting and welding. Yeah.
Scott Brady: And, and there, there's always, the issue with the Land Cruiser is that they're highly desirable, which means that everywhere you go, your vehicle is a target. I mean, I remember having this conversation with Cyril, who actually was the one that I rented the TD 5 1 10 from and lived in Guatemala. And he drove a Range Rover Classic every day. And I said, how come you drive a Range Rover Classic in Guatemala? He says, no one wants to steal it from me. Matt Scott: You know, there's a, there's, there's something funny and something sad in that statement.
Scott Brady: There's not a market for stealing a range rover classic and selling the parts.
Graham: There was a Toyota.
Scott Brady: Whereas if you're driving around in an 80 series Land Cruiser in Guatemala City, that's a very, or Johannesburg, that is a very valuable vehicle. Or pick your country that you're traveling through Africa, [00:43:00] a a 70 series Land Cruiser. In all of the parts in it, the engine and the alternator and the axles. It's all extremely valuable. You roll in there in a defender one 30 that's been customized and no one knows what it is and it doesn't have market value. So you're not likely to have someone stick a, an AK to your head and take your car. Right? So I think there's an advantage to that around Land Rovers that a lot of people don't understand is that they really aren't. They are a status symbol within a city, a large city, but everywhere else they don't have a lot of market value, so they're generally gonna leave you alone. I mean, they may take your wallet, but they don't really want your car.
Graham: Another thing is everyone's looking at a defender. You park that at a anywhere, you know, I think the, the thing is to be smart pocket where it's visible or, you know, you gotta be careful. But with our defender, we never, we never had a problem. I think two reasons. One has always had two children in the [00:44:00] backseat. Yeah. Um, but the other is wherever our park all eyes were on it. So no thief is gonna come up and mess with the thing. Even though everyone's staring at it, you know, because.
Scott Brady: Looks Yeah. Cool adventure vehicle.
Graham: Right. Every time I went to the shop, I'd come out and they'd be like, there'd always be some dude walking around and taking photos of it and, and stuff. And I think that's the thing with the defenders as well. It's just, they're so attractive.
Scott Brady: Charming.
Matt Scott: There's something emotional to them. I mean, you are kind of alluding to mutual of Omaha. Yeah, that was a little bit before me, but you know, there, there's something I, I'll use the word like that feels authentic about traveling in a, in a defender. It's not the easiest thing that you can do. It's not the most comfortable, it's not the most reliable, but there's something about driving a defender.
Graham: I equate it to riding a motorcycle.
Matt Scott: Yeah, yeah.
Graham: Exactly right. Because.
Scott Brady: You're right.
Graham: If you're gonna go, You, you're gonna go to the store, right? Yeah. You get on your bike, there's preparation, but also you go to the store [00:45:00] and you come back and you feel like, you know, you get a bit of a fizz. Right? And it's the same with the defender. There's no such thing as a boring trip to the shops. So there's definitely that. I've kissed my vehicle so many times. , you know, I, when it, I go into like a really difficult route or something and I get to the end of it and they're like, I've kissed her. Thank you so much.
Matt Scott: The, the most emotional vehicles I've ever had that I've had the most connection and attachment with. Land rovers like. Yeah. It's just, I don't know if it's cuz you are working on 'em so much and, and, and you developed this well, like in the US the discoveries would break all the time. So you had to remember disco web.
Steve: Yeah. I do disco web.
Matt Scott: Like the, the people that you met through, through that and the community that was formed around the Land Rover world was just so great. And yeah.
Scott Brady: I wish I had appreciated disco web more when I was first on it because I would go on there, you know, thinking that I knew something and I knew [00:46:00] nothing. But I, and then I was def I spent so much time like defending some modification I made to the vehicle when all these guys have, they'd already been down that road and they were just trying to help me save myself from myself.
Graham: Yeah. You don't do that.
Scott Brady: And look, I look, yeah, I look back, I look back and I'm like, why was I so. Stringently defending my position for these, you know, control arms or whatever, that I.
Matt Scott: Never look back at the thing, as you said, on the internet more than 10 years ago. Scott Brady: But what a lesson for me of like, I should have just shut up and listened a lot more. I mean, there's a reason, there's a reason why we have one mouth in two ears. We need to spend a lot more time listening to people who know what they're talking about. And I wish I had listened to those guys a lot more. They, cause they were right in the end of the day, they were, everything they said was right.
Steve: And because so many people do work on their own vehicles, there's a just a, I mean it's, there's always a two edged sword with the internet knowledge, but there is a huge well of just knowledge right. About these vehicles. And the community Yeah. In general is [00:47:00] very positive. Yeah. I think it's shifted a little bit since the original defenders have become so incredibly valuable, with a lot of imports coming in and, you know, a lot of Crazy auction price. Scott Brady: There's some, there's some trailer, there's some shysters too. There's some people bringing in very questionable vehicles and. A lot of lipstick on a pig right now.
Steve: Yeah. So that's shifted a little bit, but I think in general, the Land Rover community has been one of the most sort of like supportive and and knowledgeable around, sort of wherever we were, both in Africa and yeah, they're great North America.
Scott Brady: They're great for sure.
Steve: The most part. I agree with that.
Graham: Can I tell you a little story? Yeah, yeah. About, the Land Rover community. So obviously we have a, know a lot of Land Rover people, a lot of clubs in know us that follow us. Now we are driving that Range Rover Classic across, across the us which 10 MPG splattering along. I love that thing. Loved it. And, we broke down next to a blueberry field.
Matt Scott: Oh, you broke down. [00:48:00]
Graham: Yeah, yeah, you right. The, the front of UJA went, popped and so we managed to a hundred feet from where we broke down. We could get cell signal. So Louisa went off and sent out the, you know, the smoke signals to the Land Rover community, the like, and, I think I might have told you this story.
Scott Brady: You did.
Graham: I'm not sure you did on the lost podcast.
Scott Brady: Yeah. But we can, we can do the short.
Matt Scott: I want to hear it.
Scott Brady: We can do the shortened version.
Graham: Okay. The shortened version. So basically pushed ourselves into the, the blueberry field got hold of a chap, from the, the main Land Rover Club. He does the, the Bruce, he does the main winter romp, which is all the Land Rovers. And he's like, don't worry, I'll switch you out. And then the only other farm came over and it turned out he had a series vehicle and I, I kicked myself for not taking the time to go see it, but it, but his dad had, gone to the uk, I might have muddled the story up, but basically bought a series vehicle, toured around Europe, brought the vehicle back to the [00:49:00] States with him. Who does that? Because it's Land Rover. Right. That's why, you know, and then, then this guy's brother, the son, went to go study at Harvard, Oxford or whatever, took the series with him as you did.
Scott Brady: Back to the uk.
Graham: Back to UK . They then went touring. I think they flew over to meet him. They toured the Europe and Morocco, Scandinavia and shipped the Land Rover back. And there it sat in Maine in he.
Matt Scott: And you just happened to break down in this blueberry farm, right?
Graham: Yeah. Right. And the guy had the most amazing Land Rover story. Actually, one thing I wonderful. Make a mission to go back there, find him.
Scott Brady: Wouldn't that be cool?
Graham: Yeah. And then the next morning, sorry. The next morning, Bruce showed up with a complete front prop shaft. UJA was in everything, and half an hour later we're having bacon and eggs. So yeah, the, the Landrover community is just fantastic. And there's just so many great stories within that community.
Matt Scott: Yeah, I think it's just a, it's, it's a way to connect with people locally when you travel. And, I think it, I think it adds to the experience and I think that's what's [00:50:00] so special about, you know, I, I guess Land Rover in general, but you know, the, the defender in particular.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And I, and here, this is my thing about the whole reliability. I think that it's actually a cop out, it's actually a cop out to say, I never want my car to have a problem. Like, did we not decide to be adventurers? Did we not decide to go experience the world? And if you read like Ray Highland's trip across the Silk Road, , you know, with, with this totally ill-suited vehicle, and the amount of times that he interacted with the locals and they made a, they would make a seal out of the brim of their hat or something like that. Yeah. And so I think that part of the, for me, the connection with the Land Rover is, is that you travel at a different pace and you travel with a different mindset. You are far more likely to interact with the locals and need help from people in a community to have stories about blueberry farms. But you, if you were driving [00:51:00] a perfectly reliable, reliable vehicle, you would've already had the, the bacon and eggs. You would've never met this guy. You would've never had that moment. You would've never had someone else in the community that stepped up and came to your help. And, and you gave him that experience too. He got to come and be a part of your adventure. So I actually think that this whole reliability thing now, when I was crossing Antarctica Yes.
Matt Scott: Take a Toyota.
Scott Brady: You take, I do you take the best tool for the job.
Matt Scott: I, I look back at all my serious trips and none of them have been in Land Rovers.
Scott Brady: But if I'm crossing Africa.
Matt Scott: Sitting next to this guy, though.
Scott Brady: If I'm crossing Africa or whatever else, you know, absolutely. Give me a, who cares if the thing breaks down? Isn't that what we signed up for?
Steve: Yeah. We, dozens of stories from our travels on that continent. With the same outcomes. Right. Yeah. And I think, It does. I, I equate it in some ways to, to folks who are traveling on like adventure bikes. [00:52:00] In Africa as well. So yeah. There's just less of a barrier, when you're traveling in this rusty rattley rickety.
Graham: With the window open.
Steve: With the window open, cuz there's no other way to do it.
Scott Brady: Well, cuz Graham and I don't fit in the defender without the window open.
Steve: Right, right, right. And yeah, and I think, I think particularly, particularly in Africa, the, the, the defender has this sort of particular place. And like you were saying, everybody knows them. Everybody's has them around from, you know, Egypt to South Africa. Right. They're, they're everywhere. And, you know, it's great at border posts and police checkpoints. You're less threatening. You're less of a target. You're less, other, I guess. And so yeah, the amount of interactions, and conversations and experiences, you know, little [00:53:00] kids crawling all over the thing and you know, it's clear that like when we traveled in our one 10, you know, we didn't have a million dollars. Right. And it was, it was obvious. It was easy to avoid bribes, you know? Yeah. It was easy to, you know, have those really rich experiences. Yeah. That I think you're saying in terms of like, that's why we do this. Right. And yeah, there were extremely uncomfortable days, long days, days where I wish I had air conditioning or You know, like some, some, some modicum of power Right. From the motor, but in the end, like, yeah, those are the, those are the experiences that make the whole. Yeah. Thing.
Scott Brady: Those are now, those are now translated into memories that you'll exactly take with you for the rest of your life. And it's the reason why you brought your land over back with you. Just like the guy in the blueberry field.
Steve: Right. We couldn't have left it there.
Scott Brady: Yeah, exactly.
Steve: You came personality, (NO IDEA WHAT IS SAID HERE) [00:54:00]
Matt: Right? Because they're so.
Graham: Can you name them?
Matt Scott: Well, Ralph was, yeah, the series.
Scott Brady: I've never, I've never named a car. I should probably think about that.
Steve: Our ours is Unironically named Toto, after, well, a, the song.
Matt Scott: After Toto Wolf, the managing director of the Ammg Pronos F1 team.
Steve: No, the, eighties pop rock band. And everyone knows the, everyone knows the song. But then also.
Scott Brady: You gotta sing it for us.
Steve: Yeah. Right. You don't want me to do that. You know, the, the little dog in, wizard of Oz, right. Sort of, you know, pulls, pulls back the curtain on, on, you know, what's going on in real life. Right On life. You know, that Land Rover helped us pull back the curtain on life and you know, sort of have those experiences that we always wanted to have.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I just thought about your next book. You know, there's like this zen and art of motorcycle maintenance. There's like a zen and art of traveling in a Land Rover that just makes it a little bit more special. Yeah. You [00:55:00] know, like I'm, I'm hearing you guys, uh, talk about all these things and I'm like, damn, I've gone soft like that. That is what, that is what is occurring to me right now.
Scott Brady: But that there's also nothing wrong with that either. And I think that that's one of the problems that the Overland community can have, is that people will project that this is the experience that works best for me. It should then work best for everyone else. And I'm gonna criticize if someone else decides to travel in a different way. I think it's just try different things. Try drive, driving a Land Rover and see how you like it. If you don't like it, no big deal. Like. Like it's, you don't have to do that. But I happen to like it.
Matt Scott: What do you think Laura would do if I came home with a Land Rover
Scott Brady: I, I think she would be completely unsurprised. I don't, I don't think.
Matt Scott: I think she'd be unsurprised.
Scott Brady: I don't think she would care.
Matt Scott: I don't think she'd go in.
Graham: Well, depends on what you make you do with it.
Matt Scott: I'm not saying, I'm not, to clarify, I'm not saying this like, oh, she's, she's prissy or whatever, [00:56:00] but she's just highly practical as a person.
Scott Brady: Of course. But she also knows you and loves you just the way you are and knows that you're gonna do stupid things like bring home a, like go find Ralph and buy him back.
Matt Scott: Oh, I would love to do that.
Scott Brady: Well, but I could see that happening. I could and, and I think she, again, she would be like, of course that's what Matt did is he went and found the car that he fell in love with and bought it back.
Matt Scott: That's a good idea.
Scott Brady: So for the modification thing, from my perspective and you know, we have this gluttony of, of opportunity to modify vehicles as a business and. I have just simply not found something that I want to do to the one 10. The only thing I've thought about is I would like to put in a drawer system that takes up that bed and makes it, makes the entire floor. Then the same height where the, the wheel wells are the same height as the drawer. You know, it all becomes this one big.
Matt Scott: Big flat floor.
Scott Brady: Flat sweep.
Matt Scott: I did that in the troupe.
Steve: We had a, we had a drawer like that in [00:57:00] ours. Yeah.
Scott Brady: And I'd like, I think in the very front I would want it to be a door that popped open or a little, you know, little cubby that popped open and that I'd want the back to have two drawers. So that way there was a bit of security in the vehicle. Cause it's all a soft top and it would also get some stuff out of the dust a little bit, which is also another thing that kind of comes along with it. I did upgrade the seats to, I think they're 2016 vintage.
Matt Scott: You like x more seats or something?
Scott Brady: They're actually factory. Land Rover seats that, are.
Graham: They are the best seats out there, by the way. Yeah, they're very good.
Scott Brady: It's, it's quite good. And it has heated elements in it because it's very difficult to heat. This.
Steve: It’s very difficult to heat any.
Scott Brady: But it's surprising.
Graham: Like the gearbox doesn't heat you.
Scott Brady: You get it. Yes. It is a smattering of hot and cold from all kinds of different directions. Yes. And they swirl about, but I find that like being able to turn on it's cold in Prescott. I mean this morning it was 20 degrees or so. So [00:58:00] being able to turn on a heated seat into Defender one 10 is like this very nice addition, but it's still a factory seat. Everything slides and works properly. And so that was one little modification that I made, but I really don't think that it's a good idea to do much until you absolutely find that you need it. I think I've thought about putting in, uh, Detroit locker in the rear axle. And that is something that I may still do because I actually think that would help the vehicle.
Steve: A lot of folks do that.
Scott Brady: Settle it down off road. Cause I do take it on more challenging terrain, but I just don't think that the, there's a whole lot of modifications that are an advantage. You used to see these three link systems and these really elaborate suspensions.
Matt Scott: Maybe those was more like recreational off-road stuff.
Scott Brady: Yeah. And I don't think any of that is suitable for overlanding. One of the things that I learned, and this is one of the points that I wanted to make towards the end of the podcast, was one of the most, one of the best impressions that I had around defenders was when I was in the uk. I [00:59:00] purposefully made a trip to go to Foley's. I don't know if you've ever done that.
Graham: I've been to Foley's. Yeah.
Scott Brady: Okay. So I don't even know what Foley's role is still, or if they even still set up defenders to travel Africa. But this company specialized in a, a couple's retiring or a couple's gonna take some time off and they go to Foley's and they would set up their, and they had a bunch of them. They had 2007, 300 tdi the last year. They had a bunch of them in the, or maybe it was, yeah, I think it was 2007. Or maybe 97. I don't know. It was the last year of the 300 tdi. Graham: The military kept the TDI going for a long time. So it could well have been the tdi, the, the British military.
Scott Brady: Yeah, it was.
Matt Scott: They did specialize in, cause I, now that you remember it, I think Christian and I partied with those guys at ATO and Arad like 2010.
Scott Brady: You did. You mentioned that. So.
Matt Scott: And I rode in one of those.
Scott Brady: They, it was whatever the last year, the 300 TDI is, they bought everyone that they could and they had 'em all in a barn. and you could go into [01:00:00] Foley's and you could say, I want to drive to Cape Town. And they had their Cape Cape Town spec and they would heavily discourage people from doing anything, but whatever their recommendation was because these vehicles consistently made it. And they would, they would basically add the high cap spring set to the rear with a factory coil inside the other coil. They would maybe go with a factory spring that was a little taller, a slightly taller tire. And they had this way of kind of bulletproofing the one 10 for crossing Africa. And I, I'm gonna look it up cuz I've got it in, in my, in my, you know, kind of in my office somewhere. But I have the whole list of the Foleys setup for traveling African. I'm gonna try to post that, um, to this podcast cuz it was, I found it so fascinating. I mean, there was an entire team of people. it was their job to build one 10 s to go across the Silk Road or down the length of Africa. And they had a way that worked. And it was incredible the number of vehicles that reliably [01:01:00] made it one way somebody else would fly down and buy it and drive it back the other direction. So and they did not modify the cars. Yeah, I think they did little enhancements using factory components and they reliably drove the length of Africa.
Steve: I think that's the right approach. Cuz like, because the car is so simple, there's a gigantic aftermarket for defenders in terms of modification and you know, all different kinds of things you can do to the vehicle. But for us, the mod modifications that we've done have been these little things, right. So X more seats, redid all of the bushings with Polly Bushings, right. Especially in the link for the rear axle. Right. There's that big, yeah, there's that big bushing that, that locates the axle. That those things transform the vehicle. Just in terms of, its on-road handling in terms of, it's, you know, traction off-road. Yeah. Just, you know, it's, it's little stuff like that, that, you know, we have a, [01:02:00] like I bought an improved windscreen washer cuz the, you know, the little squirts for the windshield, washer for the windshield are terrible. Right. But you can buy these little aftermarket things that just make your life like so much better. You know, those things.
Scott Brady: Your windshield washer thing works?
Steve: Yeah, it does actually. Yeah. The one in the back too. But yeah, so like, what are, what else? Really, really high quality shock absorbers. Make a world of difference on these cars. You know, a Billstein or a.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that's what's on this one. Billsteins. perfect.
Steve: You know, a, a Coney Right. Like make a huge difference in the ride quality. For the older defenders, upgrading the front brakes to the sort of later, model at the two piston and the vented disks go a long way cuz braking is more of a suggestion in these things than you know, any kind of.
Scott Brady: It reminds me of when I, when I used to ride the UAL cycle or motorcycle. So when you would ride a u all if you accelerated, [01:03:00] you had to counter steer left because the, there would be dragged from the cart and the thing would turn this way and if you hit the brakes, the cart would try to pass the motorcycles. You had counter steer. Right. And that's the same thing when I hit the brakes on the one 10. It's, it could go right, it could go left, it could slow down.
Matt Scott: It's kind of wherever it gets quick.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Right. Yeah, yeah. You, you, it includes a bonus lane change at the same time as breaking.
Matt Scott: Yeah. I don't have that problem with my G wagon.
Steve: But they can, you know, they can break. Well, mine does, you know, it, it's a light vehicle, right? I mean the body's all aluminum. Right? When, when you look at it, it's like, It's lighter than they look, right? So, so they can, with, with good adjustment and like high quality parts, like maybe an upgrade to vented disc in the, from the solid disc models you can get them to break really well. And yeah, so those are the kinds of modifications, right?
Graham: Like Yeah, the vented disc is a good idea, especially if you're gonna be doing, alpine driving. [01:04:00] you know, mountain passes and if.
Steve: You've added weight, if you've added a lot of weight to your, to your build. Yeah.
Graham: Well if you're overlanding, you're probably gonna be pretty heavy. We've added in the past we crossed the highest, we crossed the Andes from, from Argentina, east Columbia. We did the highest pass in, Columbia without brakes cuz the brakes were just gone. You could actually break the disc with your finger. It was that bad. Cause his brakes, I mean the ands just so terrible. But that's when the low range came in. What I loved about the, like with my defender, I tried it with the Dodge the other day doing a, the mountain passa to Lan. And with the defender, I just pop it in low range and I'm good. And, but I tried it with the ram. And you, like, you try to go around the corner and the thing starts jumping in the front. I think it just automatically locks the.
Matt Scott: Yeah, it does. Yeah. Puts it in a four wheel drive.
Graham: Yeah. But yeah. Who needs when you got low range? Yeah. Right.
Scott Brady: And then the hand break.
Steve: You get outside.
Scott Brady: And then a hand break.
Graham: Your hand break works. My hand break hasn't worked. I've had a, [01:05:00] I've had a transfer box leak for the last six years. Yeah, like literally just, I've tried everything. I think I have to just fix it. Yeah. I literally just once every couple of weeks, I just get under there with a 75 w 90 over with my own special little filler. I can do this with this job with my eyes closed. Yeah. And just pop, pop, pop, pop it up.
Matt Scott: If I remember right on the series, they had a little access panel between the seats and you could like put. Gearbox oil, unless you went down the road.
Graham: You could. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's, I once dropped a, I was heading off for a huge journey. The one I drove around South Africa and, the low range. I was showing a friend of mine how the low range works, and he got locked in low range, couldn't get out. So my brother-in-law, he is a mechanic. He's like, well, let's have a look. And he opens up the inspection hatch. He goes, he's got a bolt in his hand. He goes, I really hope I don't drop this. And what does he do? He right in the gear box. could have killed him. Luckily, it was just small enough that when we drained the oil, it popped out the.
Scott Brady: Oh, wow. [01:06:00] Wow. Well, we're getting close to the end of the podcast, but I think for those that are listening, the takeaway is people are gonna tell you not to buy a defender one 10. They are probably going to be people who have never owned one and most likely never driven one. So it's just like when someone tells you, don't go to Nicaragua. I can just about guarantee it that they're a person who has never been there. Because the reality is, is that every experience has all of these joys that can bring to us. And the defenders are, are no different. And they actually are very well suited in certain ways to overland travel. And because they are a little less reliable, you actually have more of an adventure by the time you get to the other end. They don't need a lot of modification. They're, if you try to buy a defender in the United States, it's expensive. If you try to buy one in South Africa, it's not quite as expensive. So they are available out there. Consider buying one in another country [01:07:00] and getting it registered there and then driving it from that point on. You don't have to bring them to the US. You don't even have to buy them in the US to the begin to begin with. So if you've always wanted a defender, look in other markets, you might be surprised what you find in left-hand drive in Germany that could be affordable. Or, or, or in Portugal or something. Italy.
Matt Scott: Italy, yeah. You could probably buy something in Europe. Go on a lovely holiday.. Take it to Morocco. Explore, travel, have some adventures. And then if you don't fall madly in love with it, ship it back and sell it and pay for the trip. Yeah.
Scott Brady: Exactly. Exactly.
Graham: Or leave it there, or just leave it there and fly and drive and keep doing it until it's of age to bring it back. I think the thing with defender ownership, especially, I know a few people who are dying to get their hands on a defender and and I'm like, have you driven one? And they're like, no, no, no, no. I'm like, well, before you hand over the how many grand, spend some time with a vehicle driver. But the important thing I think with the classic defender is that you have to change your mindset of what this vehicle is. It's a military, [01:08:00] agricultural vehicle.
Scott Brady: It's a tractor.
Graham: It's It's a tractor.
Scott Brady: It was meant to be a tractor for the farm.
Graham: Yeah. You can't get in it and expect it to be a modern vehicle. It is gonna be uncomfortable. It is gonna be loud. It is gonna be noisy, but it is also gonna be one of the greatest vehicles you've ever driven to life. And it's gonna give you the fizz. Right.
Scott Brady: It's all about the fizz.
Graham: It's all about the fizz.
Steve: Yeah. Mine puts a smile on my face every day. And I drive it pretty much on the daily. Which is another thing with classic defenders, they need to be driven. Yeah. Like any classic car, right. They need to be maintained. They need to be driven. And that's also part of being clear-eyed about approaching a car like this. And I feel like we've talked a lot, a lot of romantic things today regarding this vehicle. But.
Scott Brady: Graham kisses his land rover.
Steve: I know, right? Literally romantic hugger as well. You know, we give them names. Right. You know, and it is, you know, if, if you come into it with, with that, with that, like Graham is saying, sort of the understanding of like what it is and what it does, then [01:09:00] yeah. You'll have an amazing relationship with, with, with these vehicles.
Graham: Don't compare it. Yeah. Don't compare it to a Hilux, don't compare it to a G wagon. Don't compare it to another. It's not any of those things. It's, it is its own thing. My wife likes to think, say that my Landy is the other woman in my life, we've traveled so far. I think it has always gotten me where I'm going. You know, it might stutter, it might do this, it might do that. It's taught me so much about maintenance and preparation and, and, and, you know, is a relationship that I have with this thing that I, I can't, I I would love to be buried in it. If they could make a big enough hole. And if I could rip it outta Louise's hands, but I, I love this thing, but I also understand that it's not my Volvo. Or I used to have a Volvo and it's not this vehicle or that vehicle. And that, just during understanding that about them, it, it makes it a lot easier for people to accept what they were, what they are. So I, I'd suggest if anyone's actually looking to buy a classic, land Rover is find [01:10:00] one. Rent one. It's gonna be very expensive. Or borrow one or, but get yourself ever behind the wheel and use it for mixed activities. And actually, you know, get to know the thing and, and manage your expectations. And at the end of it, I can guarantee one thing though, no matter what, what the situation is or what you do with it, you know, you're gonna go out into the mountains, you're gonna start your campfire and you're not going to, you, you might initially face the sunset, but then you're gonna turn and you're gonna sit in your chair and you're gonna have your whatever in your hand and you're gonna be admiring the vehicle and I, I'd still find after all these years, I can sit there at the end of a long, tough day and I'll just sit there and I'll just look at her. There's something about it. Scott Brady: Yeah when we buy a Land Rover, we're not, we're not buying the best overland vehicle. We're buying the one that guarantees adventure. So think about that when you start to look at a purchase. So any thoughts from you? Matt? Wrap things up.
Matt Scott: Happy with my [01:11:00] German stuff.
Scott Brady: But thank you for being the voice of reason. We have, you have Steve talking about being clear-eyed, which is a good idea. And then we have, the ze, german voice of reason with us on this podcast as well.
Matt Scott: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basically, yeah, I just, that's, that's my thoughts, like nice, nice emotional chat guys. But.
Scott Brady: You need to kiss your G wagon more. Matt.
Matt Scott: Just, just works and I don't have a fancy one by the way. It doesn't even have ac like, it, it is, it is the spiritual equivalent in G wagon world of a defender.
Scott Brady: Yeah, no question. No, no question.
Matt Scott: Roll up windows and, and all of that stuff. So yeah.
Scott Brady: All those things. Well, hey, thank you guys so much for being on the podcast. Thank you all for listening. Take a drive in a defender like Graham says, and see where it takes ya. Thank you all for listening, and we'll talk to you next time.