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1997 Defender 90 Soft top 5.2
Off road and other upgrades
This D90 has come back to ECR from Maryland for a new round of upgrades. A few years ago we installed an Interceptor 5.2 V8 in this D90, (For information on that 5.2 install go here), as well as a new top and many other upgrades. The customer is now getting into the off road hobby, so it is time for another trip to ECR to get him started on the upgrades to make the D90 more capable, and more reliable while off roading. Upgrades will include a new front bumper, winch, Hella H4s headlamps, tie rod guard and more.
The first step was to remove the cheesy factory brush bar, the sheet metal side sills and such. The image above shows the 90 being stripped down so that the upgrades can begin. We'll also be checking over the 5.2 after the miles it has had and be updating its engine software with the latest versions.
One of the upgrades for the 90 will be heavy duty steel wheels. In this image you can see that we have epoxy primed and painted some NATO HD steel wheels for the 90 (the green units in the background) and will soon be mounting them with some new SSR radials for maximum traction off road. The rims were painted in the D90's body color of British Racing Green in base/ clear for a great custom look.
Another work order that the customer desired was for us to remove those terrible factory cardboard footwell trims in favor of something realistic. Here you can see we have fabricated a nice heavy duty footwell trim from real materials and covered it will "Hardura" for a factory look. These units will stand up to muddy boots, even snow and they'll never fall down or get water logged.
We'll also be installing 4 rear jump seats with seat belts for all. This image shows the rear of the 90 stripped down and ready for the new seats to start going in.
This D90 had some rear bodywork done by another shop. They did nice paint work, but they used some incorrect parts and didn't even try to line up the body. This made the doors hard to close and made the 90 look plain "out of whack". The image above shows the body line as the other shop left it. Keep in mind that the front door gap is correct on the 90, so this isn't just a matter of adjusting the door, we need to do a full body line up to make sure the door gaps and the body lines all look and work correctly.
This image shows the body lines after ECR got a chance at it. The gap is now uniform from top to bottom, there are no gaps for leaks in the door seals, and the doors close with a gentle push as they should (not a slam), and the D90 looks better as well. Attention to detail and getting it right is what it is all about, and at ECR we do it right, or we just won't do it.
We will be fitting a new bumper to this D90, so we made these simple, but ultra tough, recovery points that will bolt on with grade 8 bolts to the bumper face. They will take a standard 3/4" shackle and be good for all the customers recovery needs.
This image shows the new front bumper and skid plate installed. The bumper is fitted with a Warn 9000 winch that we are now wiring up, and we re-installed the customer's Hella 3000 lamps and his hidden radar detector.
We also fabricated and installed a set of ECR ROX sliders. These sliders are frame mounted and made from heavy duty steel, and the are guaranteed never to bend or break, for the life of the vehicle. These units have the optional Hi-Lift jack points both front and rear so that you won't have to worry about your jack sliding out to the side while you lift your Rover over that obstacle.
Here you can see the NATO HD steel rims that we painted in the body color (British Racing Green) and mounted with Super Swamper SSR tires. These tires will give lots of traction on the trail in either rocks or mud and also give a surprisingly good highway feel.
Underneath the D90 we added some protection so that the 90 can off road all day long and not sustain any damage to the steering gear. This image shows the ECR ROX full tie rod guard. It mounts to the radius arm bolts and gives full protection of the tie rod from rocks or other obstacles, you could even jack your truck up by this heavy duty unit. Our tie rod guard, unlike the others offered, allows you to use the factory anti-sway bar (or not... we suggest not, but some customers like to keep them). Our unit can also be used with the later model EAS (Electronic Air Suspension) Rovers.
In front of the axle we installed an ECR ROX heavy duty drag link, a new Old Man Emu steering stabilizer and a front differential guard. These ECR ROX items, along with the diff. guard and the Safari Gard front skid plate will give this 90 the best shot at hitting the toughest trails and coming home with no damage to any steering parts, even if the customer makes a mistake, or slides off a rock, the ECR ROX items will protect his steering parts from harm on the trail.
Here you can see the back of the D90 where we have added 4 jump seats as found in the Defender 90 Station Wagons (hardtops). These have been modified to fit in the rear area without changing the speaker box location, or any safari cage items. We also added seat belts for each seat for passenger safety.
In the front seats we added a set of ECR seat rails to the drivers seat so that the owner can cruise in comfort without be packed up so close to the steering wheel. For more information on our seat rails go here!
As this ECR customer is just starting to explore the off road capabilities of his Defender 90, we have done our best to set him up with the basic upgrades and items that we will need to be capable and smart on the trail. Along with that new Warn 9000 winch we will be supplying him with the Warn recovery kit that includes some items that every winch owner should have, gloves, tree strap, shackles, and much more. We've also installed a simple rear recovery point for the D90, because anyone who goes off road knows, that at some point you will become stuck and you need strong and safe recovery points so that you can get get the Rover unstuck.
This image shows the Defender 90 almost complete with its nice list of off road upgrades. We always suggest that customer start their off road adventures with a good group of protection and recovery items first, then upgrade into lockers and more tricks as you get more and more comfortable with your Rover's (and your) ability on the trail. The customer also had us fully service the Rover so that he won't be starting his trail rides with any mechanical issues that could leave him stranded, In our opinion this customer did it exactly right.
Another upgrade for this D90 is a GPS system. The small GPS antennas supplied on the units themselves are inadequate for use under tree cover on the trail, so we set the 90 up with this Mighty Mouse II antenna. We've tested this unit in ECR4 for a few years now and find it to be the best antenna going, and its size and shape make it great for off road work. We made a small mount for it that attaches to the safari cage, and added some guards so that tree limbs or brush can't harm the antenna,. The added antenna however is easily removed if need be and no holes were drilled in the Rover.
The customer choose this Garmin GPS unit for his D90 so we installed it with a versatile mount that fits a number of criteria. It allows the GPS screen to be seen by both driver and passenger as it pivots and tilts in the middle. No power or antenna cords are dangling around the dash area (all that stuff below is a poor cell phone install) and no holes were drilled in the Rover, so the vehicle can be easily put back to stock without any problems at all.
This image shows the GPS removed from the vehicle, when not in use or to keep it from getting stolen. The unit comes out in seconds and factory holes are used to secure the mount. If you wanted the Defender's ashtray, well... you are out of luck, but the GPS is a lot more useful than the ashtray.
Here you can see the interior of this ECR prepared Defender 90. There are no goofy holes drilled in the dash or center console (other than the cell phone and we didn't install that system) and all the added items (GPS, aux. lights, etc.) are easily reached and controlled by the driver. The switches and controls all blend in with the factory units for a clean and functional look, the ECR way.
This image shows the completed Defender 90. All the upgrades, done over a few trips to ECR, make this 90 a truly great on and off road machine. What's next for this 90? Maybe lockers, a trick suspension? Who knows, but the good thing is that none of the changes or modifications made to this point will be wasted. Each piece installed will work with the next upgrades, and that saves you money and hassles in the long run. All of us here at ECR will help you guide your project correctly, and we won't let you make costly mistakes. We'll now return the D90, cleaned and ready for delivery, to its owner in MD where he can head off road in style and with piece of mind, knowing that his 90 is well protected and nicely set up for off road uses. Let us know if we can help set up your Defender the way it should be, and help make your own Rover world class.. just like this one!