Back to the Defender 90 Section

1997 Defender 90 Soft Top
Service and Upgrades

This 1997 Defender 90 has come to us directly from the point of purchase. It will be heading to its new owner in NJ once it has been gone through and upgraded here at ECR. This 90 is in very good shape, but as with any vehicle nearing a decade old, it needs few things sorted and a few things freshened up to be really nice. The new owner has also decided to go with some upgrades that make will make the 90 even better than stock. The first step is to bring in the 90 and go over it from top to bottom. We see Defenders all day, all week, so we know what these vehicles need and how to upgrade them to make them better and with parts that will last. That is why customers from all over the USA ship their Defenders to ECR for us to repair and upgrade, directly from the point of purchase, so that once they get their 90 home, they will be ready for fun, not ready to start getting things repaired. Once we complete the evaluation we then discuss it with the customer and set up the work orders to achieve their Defender goals.

For this customer that means nice upgrades to make things last longer and work better and some cool tricks as well. We'll be adding a new upgraded soft top, upgraded door hinges, a stainless steel kit, a new Alpine iPod ready sound system, new bumper and even jump seats in the back. Above you can see that we have started to strip the 90 down to remove the unwanted bits and get ready for the new parts. We will also be doing a complete service front to back so that when the Rover arrives it can be enjoyed right out of the box.

In the back of the 90 we have removed some parts of the tire carrier that need to be re-done and sent them to our paint crew. We have also installed 4 new jump seats, with seat belts in the rear of the Defender for max. seating for those trips to the shore.

In this image you can see that we have removed the aging soft top. It will soon be replaced with a new upgraded soft top that will actually seal around the doors and look great as well. We have also removed the rims and tires. The 90 is getting a fresh set of sneakers and some new suspension bushings to make it drive like it should. We'll also be adding a set of Bilstein shocks for better road manners.

Up front we have given the engine a complete service with all new fluids and filters, plugs, wires and more. Fortunately this 90 is in good shape, so that is all that was required for the motor. We are also installing a new front bumper and front skid plate that you can see in the process of being installed.

Here you can see the new bumper and skid plate installed with the customers winch. Three of the lights from the roof have been relocated to the bumper and set up with new wiring and relays. To make the 90 look fresh again we have also replaced the turn signals and lamps. In the image above you can see the amber signal is fresh and clean. If you look up one image you can see the old UV damaged lamp. These new lamps make the entire 90 look better and are just some of the small items we do for customers to help their 1997 Defender look fresh and new when they take delivery of their "new" Rover.

Speaking of small items that make all the difference. Here you can see that we have installed our Aux. lamp switch in the correct location on the wiper motor cover. It is illuminated and controls the function of the 3 Hella 3000 lights on the new bumper. No goofy looking switch gear in an ECR D90, our work looks at home, and factory stock.

To add to the driving enjoyment of the 90 we have removed the factory radio and installed a new Apline head unit. We also installed an iPod interface so that the new owner can directly control the iPod from the radio head unit. We then installed a small padded bracket inside the cubby box to securely hold the iPod when it is jacked into the system.

We also removed the filmsy cardboard kick panel over the drivers feet and replaced it with an ECR ROX kick panel. These units looks stock, but they are made from a polymer coated alloy for long life, even if you kick it with your muddy boots. For more information on that go here.

Here you can see we have finished up the install of the 4 new rear jump seats and seat belts. These make a nice addition, and as they were never offered in a soft top Defender from the factory, they make for a nice custom look as well. The seats are installed with all stainless steel hardware for long life and ease of service/ removal in the future. While we were working in the back of the 90 we also replaced the rear cargo mat, again to get back that "new" look when the owner takes delivery.

A fresh set of BFG All Terrains, along with new suspension bushings and Bilstein shocks will help make the 90 drive like it did in 1997, unlike a lot of used D90s that are terrible to drive due to past poor repairs or goofy upgrades.

Here you can see that the 3rd brake light parts have been blasted, primed and painted and have been installed back on the 90 with all stainless steel hardware. This will make help to make sure the back of the Defender stays looking great for a long time.

Another upgrade that was done to keep things looking good for as long as possible was the upgrading of the door hinges. Here you can see we have installed a new set of door hinges and primed and painted them in the correct Beluga Black. The hinges were then installed with new stainless steel hardware and the doors were lined up to open and close smoothly.

Up on the bumper we have finished wiring up the winch and we have installed a set of ECR ROX recovery points on the new bumper. Wiring the winch sounds simple, but it is not something that should be over looked. When we removed the wiring from the previous install of the winch we found that the insulation on the positive cable had been eaten away as it was too close to the steering link. Over time the steering link had eaten away the insulation and in a few more turns this 90 was going to have a complete electrical system melt down. Luckily the 90 came to ECR and we were able to spot this, and install new winch power cables that are routed correctly, otherwise this 90 would have had a short life with its new owner.

Another upgrade to this D90 is the addition of an upgraded soft top. The factory plastic top left a lot to be desired. They are hard to remove and install and rip easily. They also do not seal around the doors and leak water and air badly. The upgraded tops are made from higher quality material and they get rid of all the problems that the factory tops had.

To seal around the doors the upgraded tops use a door seal kit that supports the door seal in a galvanized metal frame. This makes a tight and secure seal around the door, unlike the factory top that was just fabric in this area. Combine the new door seal with the better materials, larger rear window and you get a D90 that is a joy to drive as a soft top, not a nightmare or leaks rattled and rips.

Here you can see the new upgraded top installed and looking good. Not only does it fit better, work better and look better, it will last longer than the factory top and working better and lasting longer is a priority of all parts installed here at ECR.

Here you can see the serviced and upgraded D90, ready to head to NJ for many seasons of summer fun for the new owner. The new owner will now be happy to take delivery of his fully sorted D90 when it arrives, knowing he can hop in and enjoy it, instead of worrying about where he is going to send it to get this and that repaired. We wish all dealers would prepare their Rovers for their new owners like we do, but as was the case with this 90 when it was purchased it is all "as is". Luckily the customer was wise enough to have the 90 sent to ECR prior to taking delivery so that we could turn it into the 90 he always wanted, rather than one that would have arrived with him with numerous problems, including no brake lights!
If you have purchased a Defender and need it serviced or upgraded, send it directly to ECR. That way we can get it back to 100% for you before you take delivery. In the long run it will save you a lot of hassle and make your Defender investment worth more.
We'll be happy to do as much or as little as you need to make your Defender world class... just like this one.