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1997 Defender 90 Station Wagon #2241
Galvanized frame and other upgrades
This Defender 90 Station Wagon has come to us from CA for a complete round of repairs and upgrades. The broad strokes being a new galvanized chassis, new gearbox and much more. Some of the other items will be some needed paint work, 30 spline HD rear axles, HD 1 ton CV joints and HD axle shafts in the front, front and rear ARB air lockers and much more.
The V8 EFI engine bay looks like this when we begin, but soon we'll have all the parts removed and will be able to start with a blank canvas to get things set up the way the customer wants.
We also need to remove a lot of parts on the inside of the D90. Here you can see we have started to tear down the interior for the rebuild and conversion. We get to toss a bunch of computers and about half the relays to make this D90 truly simple and bulletproof. We have removed the center console and have started to modify the Air Conditioning wiring harness so that it will interface with the Tdi's more simple way of operating.
Now that the systems have been disconnected it is time to drop the original chassis out from under the Defender so that we can install the new galvanized frame. Here you can see the 90 on the lift being made ready for the chassis swap.
As the 90 and its old parts are being taken apart the new parts are made ready. Here you can see the new automatic gearbox being made ready. The new torque convertor has been filled and installed and next we will mate this set up to the proper transfer case and then to the new, not rebuilt, engine. Once those parts are together it will all drop into the new galvanized rolling chassis.
A little further along and you can see the body has been removed from the rolling chassis as a complete unit. This saves time and saves the customer money vs. taking everything apart. In this project we have to take a good bit of the body apart, but once off the truck we can do that much more efficiently.
Here you can see the old rolling chassis out and ready to be stripped down. Next up we will tear everything down and remove the front and rear differentials in order to start setting up the ARB air lockers.
Once the old rolling chassis is taken apart it is time to start cleaning up all the old parts and making the needed modifications for the ARB lockers and the upgraded axles and CV joints. This image shows the front axle case looking much better than its actual 85K plus mile history.
While the suspension parts are being made ready the differentials have been stripped down and are being fully rebuilt with new ARB air lockers and the stock 3.54 gearing. This images shows the front locker nearly complete.
Once the axles are all built up we will slide them under the galvanized frame that will hold the new drive-train. After the axles go into place we will install the factory fresh engine and the new automatic set up.
This image shows the chassis coming along nicely. The suspension has been installed and the rear wiring harness. Now we will start to run the new stainless steel brake and fuel lines and then install the running gear.
Here you can see the stainless fuel lines set up with the modified fuel pump. Holding the fuel tank in place is a new alloy ROX fuel tank skid plate so that corrosion possibilities in this section of the truck are now very limited. The tank is plastic, the skid plate is alloy, the frame is galvanized and the lines are stainless steel.
While the running gear is assembled on the new galvanized chassis we also start work on the body. The stainless brake pipes are being installed and the changes needed to the bulkhead are being taken care of while the work is easy and efficient with the engine and rolling chassis out of the way.
The roof has been removed from the body so that it can be sealed up. It is far too common that the seams in the Defender roofs will leak, like the ones on this truck do. This causes mold, mildew and headliner de-lamination, as well as water inside the truck when it rains.
The fix is to remove the roof and completely reseal it with better products that won't break down from UV damage. Once we rework the roof it will no longer leak and the new headliners will last a good long time. After it is sealed it will get repainted in the correct Alpine White so it will look bone stock, but it won't leak.
The body has the typical rust in the body cappings, and the reason for that is one that you can see above. Rover never painted the back sides of the steel body cappings, as you can see with them removed. We will now remove all the rust and then epoxy prime and paint them inside and out, thereby eliminating the rust long term. We will also be replacing the doors with the new upgraded units that do not have corrosion issues and getting everything painted up in 3 coats of fresh Arles Blue.
The mechanical crew continues to set up the new rolling chassis while the body is worked on. The front ARB locker has been installed along with the 1 ton CV joints and all new brakes all around. The Tdi automatic has been completely built up with the correct 1.4 transfer case and even a new stainless steel cat back exhaust system has been installed.
To change up the look of the 90 the customer requested some Defender 130 steel wheels that we have powder coated black and wrapped them in the customer's tire choice. The rear 30 spline locker has also been installed along with the tie rod guard and front differential guard.
This image shows the rear body looking great again. Fresh coats of primer and Arles Blue have been applied to give the 90 the shine it deserves.
With the paint work done on the rear tub and the bulkhead it is time to put the body and chassis back together again. This image shows the truck going back together. At this stage all the new stainless brake pipes and such are run and hooked up. The new custom engine wiring harness is made and installed.
Meanwhile in the paint department the final coats of Alpine white have been applied to the newly sealed roof. It looks like factory new, but unlike factory new, this roof won't be leaking water and wrecking headliners.
A little further along more freshly painted parts are going onto the 90 and more systems are being hooked up. The ARB air compressor has been installed as well and more and more systems are being hooked up and tested, from steering to wiring.
This images show the body nearly complete. The resealed roof is now in place and all the body lines have been set up so that all the doors will work correctly and close with a gentle push, not a slam.
Here you can see the brand new doors that have been primed, painted and installed, no more corrosion here. The new door shell, along with its new style upgraded door hinges and stainless steel hardware will mean the end of corrosion in these areas for a long time to come. One nice side benefit of these newer style doors is that the door handles take a slightly different lock and that means we can key the doors and the ignition the same, meaning that the customer needs only 1 key to open the doors and start the Rover, unlike the stock 1997 Defender that needs 2 keys, 1 for the door and another for the ignition
The new style rear door looks greta as well and also has a much better interior panel. The stock 1997 rear door had basically a piece of cardboard with vinyl over it. This heavy duty plastic panel on the new door will stand up better and looks much nicer as well.
The outside of that new rear door also has a much stronger spare tire carrier on it. The original NAS style rear doors had real strength issues in this regard and frequently the welds in the rear door would crack due to the weight of the tire, causing really annoying rattles and squeaks This new style rear door cures those issues and negates the need for an addition spare tire carrier for most size tires.
Inside the 90 things are starting to look up. The headliners have been installed, the interior lights updated and the interior trims have been cleaned and installed. The new headliners really freshen up the interior and with no more roof leaks from the resealed roof they will last a good long time.
The front of the cabin is coming together as well. The AC system has been set up and tested and all the electrical systems have been brought up to snuff. We even set up the new rear door's wiper motor to work with the '97 NAS 90s multi-function ECU so that the rear wiper will cycle periodically, unlike the typical Euro Defender where it is either on or off.
The details on the interior are also being taken care of at this stage. The original dash is in great shape, but because this truck is no longer EFI, we have installed the correct dash binnacle with the glow plug warning unit. Then everything is tied into the truck correctly and thoroughly tested. In a lot of conversions we see from other shops the glow plug system is not working correctly. The warning lamp comes on, but that is only due to the "bulb check" system in the NAS Defenders. People think the glow plugs are working, but they are not, it is a common mistake we see from a number of other Rover specialists.
Here you can see the 90 a little further along. The LED tail lamps have been installed, the hood is back on and road tests are under way to make sure everything 100%. Next up we will be fabricating and installing some ECR ROX sliders and painting them body color.
Inside the 90 the interior has been nearly finished up. Here you can see the new door panels and the new JL Audio speakers installed.
Those JL speakers are driven by a new Alpine head unit that has a direct iPod connection. Plug your iPod into the cable and tuck it away in the cubby box and then control all the functions of the iPod right through the Alpine head unit. The head unit charges the iPod as well and this system keeps your iPod out of sight.
A few more details to complete before the 90 heads out west... The owner has had us install front and rear mud flaps and a few other small items.
This image shows the ECR ROX sliders, epoxy primed and painted in the body color for a nice stealthy look. These units are tough as nails and we have tested them on our own Defenders from Labrador to Utah. They never bend, they never fail and they look great on your Rover as well as do an important job when off roading.
Here you can see the completed 1997 NAS Defender 90 Station Wagon all cleaned up and ready for transport to its owner in CA. There it will give faithful service for many, many years with all the long term upgrades we have built into the Rover. Items like LED tail lights, a galvanized frame, a ROX alloy skid plate, stainless brake and fuel lines and more will all help help this Rover last for the duration.
The new engine, fresh paint and all new doors, as well as off road goodies like ARB lockers front and rear, ROX sliders, ROX tie rod guard and more all will help the 90 travel near and far and will allow the Rover to explore wherever the owner wants to go.
If you have dreams for your Defender, contact ECR. We'll be happy to make your Defender world class... just like this one.