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Defender 110 Station Wagon
Custom Removable Hardtop, Surrey Top and more!
This Defender 110 Wagon has come to us from New Jersey for some upgrades and the install of a removable hardtop. As you can see the 110 was built with a soft top. The customer also wants a full hardtop for cold weather uses and we'll also be building an internal safari cage so that he still has safety and places for seat belts, even when the top is off.
The first step in the process is to get the needed parts customized and under paint so that everything can be test fit while the internal cage is built. Here you can see that we have supplied a 110 roof assembly and have already cut the opening for the customers desired sunroof. The roof panel will now be prep'd and painted with epoxy primers and multiple coats of Alpine White. Once the paint has cured in our spray/bake booth the alpine windows and sunroof assembly will be installed.
The image above shows the left and right roof side that we have supplied for the 110. These have been epoxy primed and are now in our spray booth being given coats of the correct color in PPG base/clear. As the top on this 110 is being designed to be removable, we had to do some fabrication to the RH roof side. As you know most 110 Wagons have a rear door, so all the roof side come with the holes for the hinges pre-drilled. We had to tig weld these holes shut, as our set up will be a split lift-gate tailgate. When the modifications were complete, the panels were sent to paint and will be ready to fit to the 110 soon. Notice that when we paint pieces all the windows, seals and trim are removed so that complete paint and primer coverage is achieved, and no tape lines will be present on the customers Rover.
Here you can see the roof section with its new paint ready for the windows and sunroof to be installed. We've also made modification to the inner roof assembly so that the top can be removed and installed without taking the headliners out. The goal is to make the top system easy to get on and off, sure it will take a few people to lift it off, but it will be able to be set aside, complete, and re-installed when the weather gets cold.
This image shows the left and right roof side out of the paint both and ready for install. The sliding side windows have been installed and the rear panel windows are installed and ready to go.
Shown above is the rear hatch that will match the rear tailgate that the 110 already has. This will lift with gas struts and remain bolted to the roof assembly for easy on and off, much like the set up in our ECR 4 Defender 90. The rear hatch assemblies like these were used on Rover back in the 60's, but the parts are still available new, so we have supplied one, modified it and painted it in base clear to match the customer's 110. Notice that the window in the hatch is larger than the ones in the old Series Rovers. We enlarged the window and will be installing custom tempered glass so that the view out the rear of the 110 is better. This will also look better as the height of the window is cut the same as the panel windows in the rear of the roof sides, so everything will have a nice finished look to it. Next we move on to fabricating a new safari cage for the inside of the 110.
Here you can see that we have removed the soft top from the 110 and have prepared everything for the new metal hard top. We have altered the safari cage and the made changes to the cap rails so that the 110 can have a surrey top that works for summer fun, while the full metal hard top will work for the winters. While the 110 was inside we have started to take care of a number of mechanical items and other upgrades to make the 110 better and ready for the owner.
While the soft top pieces are welded up we are starting to make the needed changes to be able to install a full factory hardtop, with all the interior trims in one easy step. Normally a 110 5 door has a fixed roof that you can not take off, but for this 110 we are making a custom cage that will hold the 110 in shape no matter if it has a hard top, soft top or no top.
Right now we are starting to assemble the hard top that will be used in the winter months on this 110. As you can see we have installed roof sides on the 110 as well as the roof section in Alpine White.
The roof sides and interior trims are all being modified so that the top can be easily removed by lifting it off in one complete unit. There will be no need to disassemble the roof panels, you will only need to unbolt it from the 110, and then bolt on the hoops for the surrey top.
Now that the hard top has been test fit we can start to make the changes that the owner requested. We have removed the bench jump seats and a number of layers of thick carpet and have primed and painted the rear tub inners in the correct color to get ready for the new individual jump seats. Notice that the bottom of the roll cage on this 110 went nowhere. It wasn't bolted into anything, making this a very unsafe set up.
To cure the problem we completed the roll cage install that the original builders left out. We have tied the rear body into the frame and have installed the rear bars that strengthen everything up. You can also see above that the new side bars make a great place to mount the new seat belts for the 4 jump seats. A new speak box had to be built as well. In the original 110 the speakers were at the back, but their placement made it so that the hard top could not be easily bolted on, so we have moved them forward in these custom fabricated boxes that will be hidden behind the front jump seat.
In this image you can see the 4 new jump sets installed. This set up works better, has seat belts for all and also has a much stronger roll cage in cage the worst ever happens. The jump seats will also be getting a set of waterproof seat covers to protect them from the elements when the soft top is in place.
Here you can see the new framework we fabricated for the surrey top. The rear bar from the soft top was moved forward and a cross braces was installed. All these pieces were made so they could be easily removed in case you want to go with no top, or the hard top. New tie down points were made for the new top, everything was primed and painted and then the truck was shipped to the upholstery shop so the custom top could be made to our framework.
Now that the 110 is back from the upholstery shop, you can see what a cool summer cruiser this 110 5 door with a surrey top will be. The tan canvas roof fits on easily and will keep the weather off the front 5 passengers in case of rain. For sunny days the 110 can be loaded up with up to 9 passengers for fun in the sun.
The new top system incorporates a gutter rail system that will keep water out of the cabin and it also uses the USA style Defender 90 side belt rails for quick and easy install of the soft top.
The front of the 110's soft top also uses the USA Defender 90 front windscreen bar that helps to keep the soft top tight and looking great, as well as making it easy to install, with no snaps to corrode or sharp points that can damage the soft top. Now we will remove the soft top and set up the easy to install full metal hard top.
The design of the metal hardtop called for it to be easy to remove. In the image above you can see how we will achieve that goal. If you've done work on 110s you know that to get the roof off means that lots of things have to come apart (side trims, headliners, etc. etc.) On this 110 we are modifying every piece so that you will be able to unbolt the roof with hand tools in less than 10 minutes. You'll need some mates to help you lift it off, but it will come off as one piece (interior trims and all). The you install the hoops for the surrey top shown above or go topless. Above you will see that we are installing the new headliners and the side trims on the roof panel. All these pieces have been modified so they will fit on the 110 when the roof is lifted into place, not installed after the roof is in place as is the norm.
At the rear of the headliner we have installed the hinges for the lift gate and modified the headliners to work with the hinges. When the roof is complete even the lift gate will stay with the roof when it is lifted off making the swap from 5 door Wagon to open surrey top 110 a snap.
In the front of the 110's hardtop we have installed a sunroof and modified the front headliner to fit. The leading edge of the front headliner has been heavily modified and we will be using a leading edge trim set up from a Defender 90 soft top to finish off the front. This will allow easy access to the bolts that hold the roof to the windscreen frame. This also solves another problem of the lack of interior lamp in the soft top. These D90 set ups have a built in interior light that will work with the hard top and the soft top. The red windscreen frame is only for test fitting the pieces. The vehicle's windscreen frame will always remain on the 110.
This image shows the fully assembled, fully trimmed, Wagon roof ready to be lifted into place. It can be put into place with 3 people. Notice that all the side trims, headliners, grab handles and such all stay with the roof when it is soft top time.
Here you can see that the roof assembly has been bolted down with the special bolt arrangement and the 110 5 door Wagon, now looks like a factory built Wagon.
This image shows the D90 soft top style front trims and sun visors. These work with the modified hard top and will work with the surrey top as well, giving the owner sun visors and an interior map light no matter what top (or no top) is on the 110. Also notice that the sunroof has been installed and has all the correct factory rims to make it look complete.
In the rear of the 110 we have finished up the ECR lift gate/ tail gate system. The upper half lifts by gas struts and the tail gate swings away to the side as usual. This set up makes it so the top can be removed easily and so you don't have to change to a rear door. We also made sure that all the locks are keyed the same for ease of use of the 110's rear hatch/ tail gate. The ECR top system on the 110 can be removed in about 30 minutes, and installed in about an hour. Try that with a stock 110 5 door!
In this image you can see the liftgate/tail gate system open for easy access to the rear of the 110.
The inside of the 110 is fully trimmed just like a standard factory 110. The difference is that all these pieces come away with the hardtop so that you can have the best of both worlds, full metal hardtop and full soft top, or no top if the mood hits you.
Here you can see the finished 110 ready to head back to New Jersey for both fun in the sun and warmth in the winter. This kind of work is what ECR is all about. The phrase "Our only limitation is your imagination" holds true, with this Defender 110 5 door Wagon that is also a soft top! If you have Defender needs from mild to wild contact ECR. We'll be happy to make your Defender world class... just like this one.
Here is what the cusomer had to say, "Hey guys, thanks for all the hard work you put in on my 110. The ability to have a hard top for the cold winter and a one-of-a-kind soft to for the hot summers here, is a dream come true. One thing I counted on when I sent the car to you was attention to detail, and you guys overdelivered on that. I finally feel like this car was made just for me, thanks to you. I also appreciate all the time you have spent answering questions for me before, during and after the job was done. I am sure I will have more questions inthe future, and it's good to know I have a trusted resource to rely on....Thanks!!!!"