ECR... We build your dreams
North American Style DEFENDER 130 5 door Soft Top
Project: BR130 "Beach Runner 130"
The images below show just how radical a Defender we can create for you. Our only limitation is your imagination.
The image above shows one of our most talked about creations, the Beach Runner Defender 110, or BR110 as it is known here at ECR. It is a 5 door, full soft top, 9 passenger Defender 110 that is at home on the sand or on the highway. It gained magazine exposure and has been one of the most common topics of conversation with those who call ECR. Think of it as a NAS Defender 90 with more seating room for you growing family or all your friends at the beach. This custom ECR 110 has inspired a number of versions that we have built over the last few years and now is it time to push the limits again and make something else truly unique, a Defender 130 4 door Beach Runner! Think of it as an ECR Beach Runner with all the usual tricks, full time four wheel drive so that it can get you to and from your adventures with ease, a galvanized frame so that you'll still be able to enjoy the vehicle even decades down the line, but with extra room to stretch out as we will be adding rough 10" to each door! It is another vehicle that will prove that our only limitation is your imagination.
The starting point for BR130 is this top notch condition Defender 90 that has just arrived. The 90 has very low miles and is in great shape. It has no rust of corrosion to worry about during the build up and all the parts that we need to create the new Beach Runner are in near perfect condition.
The first step is to strip the donor vehicle down and get everything evaluated and ready for the next step in the process. This image shows the 90 being stripped down and made ready for the new chassis.
This image shows the tear down in progress. The super low miles running gear will be serviced and then moved over to the new chassis once it is ready.
Here you can see the new 130 chassis. It is still in bare steel form as we will need to make various changes to the mounting points on the frame to accommodate the build. Once all the steel work and welding is done the frame will then be galvanized so that real rust will never be a factor in this Rover's life.
In a custom project like this a big part of the process is mock up. In this image we have started to set things up in order to make sure the new design fits the customer and also works as a vehicle.
Once the mock up is done it is time to start fabrication. A number of outriggers and brackets have been changed on the chassis and all the NAS items have been added as well. We have also added a number of floor supports that will support the new larger floors. Once all the welding and grinding is done the chassis will be loaded on the trailer and taken to the galvanizers for a hot dip bath in zinc so that rust will never be a factor.
Along with a longer frame, means longer T supports. Here you can see we have fabricated the new 130 Wagon T supports. Once they are finish ground, they will head to our paint department.
Here you can see the 130 frame that has just come back from the galvanizers. It now has a layer of zinc inside and out so that this Beach Runner will be able to run on the beach for a long, long time.
This image shows the chassis being set up as a rolling chassis. The new suspension parts have been set up on the axles and all the upgrades like new Bilstein shocks and such have been installed.
Here you can see the rolling chassis a little further along. The drive-train has been installed at this stage along with the stainless steel brake pipes and other rust resistant tricks that we install on Beach Runners now, like galvanized shock towers and such.
While the rolling chassis is being set up, the guys in the paint department are hard at work getting the body panels primed and ready for a new batch of Alpine White PPG paint. This image shows the rear tub undergoing the last sanding stage on the primer, the next step will be sealer and then 3 coats of top coat in Alpine White.
This images show the BR130 as nearly a running and driving Rover. There is more body work to do, but now that the new fuel tank is in place, the brakes bled and the steering connected the 130 is almost ready to be under its own power again.
Along with the stainless brake and fuel lines, we are also installing a stainless steel ECR ROX exhaust system. Its a 304 stainless system with Random Tech cats that we have been making for years. This new exhaust will offer some added performance, a great sound and a long life without rust.
Speaking of making things, now that the running aspects of the 130 are nearly addressed we are working on making the new body panels for the Rover. The new rear floor is made from alloy just like the original so that rust won't be a factor, but as this area is much larger than a stock 110 wagon the floors have to be larger as well. This image shows the new rear floor installed. It looks factory but it is quite a bit bigger as you can see.
The larger floor needs more support so that it does not flex when people walk around on it, so we have added some support to the underside of the floor and we also added extra braces on the frame that support the floor from the bottom. Those were installed prior to the frame being galvanized for the best possible rust prevention. Now that the floor is done it is off to the paint department for primer, paint and then Rhino-Lining of the top for the ultimate in foot traffic protection.
The larger driver/passenger area also means larger front floors and a modified seat box system. Here you can see we had modified the seat box in order to retain the factory console and have fabricated the new larger alloy floors
The extension section on the seat box is made out of alloy so that it won't have any rust issues and now that it is complete it is off to our paint department for numerous coats of epoxy primer and top coats of Alpine White paint.
The larger passenger areas also require larger doors to access them, so we have fabricated new door frames and the bucks and tooling required to make new alloy door skins that are 10" longer than a factory soft top door. Above you can see one of the completed door skins ready to go onto the new door frame.
The door panels are fabricated here at ECR and are exact to the originals, other than being 10" longer. Even the door pocket opening is rounded on a buck that we have custom made in order to make everything look factory correct once it is all together.
Now that all the mock up has been done on the BR130 it is time for everything to come apart so that it can have the final coats of paint and Rhino-Lining applied. The we will start to assemble the finished product and get all the wiring and upgrades installed.
Here you can see one of the completed front doors that has been fully fabricated in house. The front doors are now ready for prep and paint and then installation onto the BR130.
This images shows the 130 coming along nicely. The floor panels are back from being Rhino-Lined and have been installed along with all the main body panels that have been treated to 3 coats of PPG epoxy primer and 3 coats of PPG Alpine White.
The rear doors are 7" longer than a factor door, as you can see they have already been fabricated and put under epoxy primer. We also primed all the door panels before they were skinned and used isolating materials so that galvanic corrosion will not be an issue with the doors. Once all the door cappings are fabricated all the pieces will be painted in our in house paint department.
Here you can see we are test fitting the doors one final time before the finish coats of paint go on. We do this step to make sure the body lines are correct and the door gaps are set. Taking this set and adjusting the body as needed make it so the doors will all close with a gentle push, not a slam.
This image shows the newly lined front floors have been installed and all the wiring is starting to go into place. The BR130 will be getting everything from touch screen Navigation to a back up camera, so there are a lot of wires to run throughout the Rover.
While all the wiring is going on and the panels are being painted we can start to set up the seats with new foam and new seat covers. The seat covers are made for us in 1997 NAS Defender 90 colors and patterns, so all the seats will match, even though Land Rover never offered these color combinations in a 5 door Defender. Its a small detail, but all the small details add up to a correct looking project that in the end looks factory built.
This image shows the rear tub coming together. The new LED lamps are being installed and the rear bumper has been modified, powder coated and installed with a new tread plate. Small details like the "BR130" logo are installed and everything under the truck is buttoned up.
Here you can see the front clip has been installed and things are really starting to look like a truck again.
A little further along the 130 is loaded on one of our trailers for the trip down the road to the Rhino-Liner so that they can do the rear tub section.
Once it returns the rear of the 130 is looking great and is ready for all kind of traffic... dogs, sandy gear, whatever. If it gets dirty, just hose it out!
It almost looks like a "normal" Beach Runner, but the crowds that gather around the truck are going to have a hard time figuring out just what it is. Imagine trying to figure this truck out. Consider that Land Rover never built a soft top 4 door, let alone one that is based on a galvanized 130 chassis that has an EFI V8 automatic and a soft top!
Under the hood everything is serviced, checked and made ready to go. The new winch wiring has been installed and is loosely set up and ready for the new ROX bumper and all the systems are tested and made ready to go.
Now that the BR130 is running and driving under its own power we can start to work on the steel fabrication for the project. In the image above you can see the ROX front bumper we have made up for the truck. While it is still in raw steel we added a Class III hitch to the front for added flexibility. Down the road the customer could add a bike rack or even a boat trailer hitch to the front of the truck.
Here you can see the doors have been epoxy primed and painted and hung on the truck, making it look nearly complete. We have also started to fabricate the H bar that will connect the front and rear safari cage sections and hold the soft top's gutter kit in place.
The new 60/40 middle row of seats has now been installed and you will notice they have been recovered in the correct 1997 NAS fabrics, no mismatched items here. Once the truck is complete all the seats and such will match and be the correct denim twill with black accents.
Before the rear cargo area jump seats go in we have added our side mounted sub boxes to the tub. These have been painted the same color as the body and will now get wired up with one 8" subwoofer per side of the truck. This will give a nice clean system that gives great sound and is hidden from view, and the best thing is there will be no big subwoofer box in the back to get in the way of people or cargo, and nothing for thieves to want to steal.
Here you can see, well actually you can't see (and thats the point), the new 8" subwoofer installed in its custom ECR box with the new jump seats installed. The jump seats give the BR130 the ability to seat 9 people in fully legal seat belted positions and with the hidden subwoofers there is still roof for the passengers feet.
The rear of the 130 is taking shape as well. The spare tire carrier parts that have been freshly zinc and powder coated have been installed along with the 3rd brake light mounts and all the small pieces that make up the back half of the Defender.
Now that the majority of the build is done on the truck itself it is time to start fabricating the extended door tops for the 4 larger doors. Obviously this is not something you can buy, it has to be created by hand. Starting with ideas from the factory alloy door tops we have designed a door top that will mimic the original, but be the size we need it and last long term as it will be made from aluminum.
A little while later after a lot of fabricating and welding a new door top that is 10" longer than the factory unit emerges and is ready to head off to our paint department. The templates for the tempered glass have been made and set off to be made and once the glass comes in and the paint work is done the door tops will go on the truck.
Here you can see the middle door top starting to come together. The rear doors are 7" longer so they present there own set of issues, but for sure a standard door top would never work so it has to be custom made here at ECR.
This image shows the inner construction of the middle door top. As you can see the new door top is all aluminum so that it won't suffer from rust issues and we are using marine grade plastic window tracks so that they will never rot either.
Now that the body structure is coming together we can turn our attention to the interior trims. With 10" in the front doors and 7" in the rear doors there is no way anything stock will fit, so we have made fiberglass copies of our standard 110 Beach Runner door panels and then extended and changed them to work with the new doors. Once the fit and finish is up to snuff these will be sent out for Rhino-Lining so that they are tough as nails and will stand up to just about anything.
Coming along nicely, and now fully functional and road ready.
Here you can see that the ROX front bumper has come back from zinc and powder coating and has been set up and installed. The skid plate has been installed as well and the bumper has been topped off with three Hella 4000 fog pattern lamps and a Warn 9000 winch, just in case the BR130 needs to pull itself or someone else out of a sand trap on the beach.
Now that the majority of the basic build on the BR130 is done it is time to turn our attention to some of the additional items the customer desired, like a full roof rack that will handle all kinds of stuff from boards to bikes, coolers to maybe even just being a nice place to lay down and watch the stars. To get started we have installed a new Safety Devices NAS 90 rear dual ladder support and made the needed modifications to allow it to work on the BR130. This will allow the Rover to have a full roof rack with easy access up top and still retain its full soft top.
Here you can see the new roof basket taking shape. It uses our often copied design that allows for the use of roof top tents, gives the ability to carry long surfboards and more. It also has Hi-Lift jack and work lights mounts built right in.
This image shows the completed rack ready for zinc and powder coating. The floor has been installed and we have set the roof rack up with mounts for everything from fishing rod holders to a complete set of our unique Yakima adapters that will allow for easy storage or bikes, boards, skis or even kayaks. Anything Yakima makes will work on the ECR ROX rack system. We even have points that straps can go through to hold just about any size item securely from coolers to soft bags it can all be strapped down safely and securely on the ECR ROX rack system.
While the rack is being fabricated the mass of wires needed to run all the audio/video equipment is starting to be installed throughout the Defender. This 130 is also getting the later model updated dash so we have installed the substructure of the new dash and changed all the wiring over to the later model style switches. The new design dash will allow us to install the Alpine head unit that has a double DIN touch screen with back-up camera and a navigation system.
Here you can see the doors are starting to get buttoned up. The new door panels have been installed and the JL Audio speakers have been installed in our custom made "NAS look" middle door panels (that are 7" longer than a normal middle door).
The front door panels are still the NAS Defender 90 type, but are 10" longer and now have twin map pockets to help store your gear in the truck. Another set of JL Audio speakers reside in the front doors as well for great sound coverage throughout the Rover.
Next up we will finish up the dash and start to install all the small details like the equipment needed for the over-sand beach permit.
A full size shovel is mounted on the fender in case some sand needs to be shifted to get someone unstuck.
The rear hitch gets a recovery point in case the Defender needs to pull someone out of soft sand. Just below the tailgate you can see the back up camera in the custom guard we have made for it. This set up allows the camera to be where it needs to be, but just in case it gets stepped on or a piece of gear going in the cargo hits is, it won't break or be damaged.
The new style dash is coming along and everything is ready for the new Alpine audio/video system to be installed. We have tested everything at this stage to make sure it all works correctly, from satellite radio to navigation, but we will install the head unit later on in the project so that it doesn't get dusty while the 130 has no top.
Here you can see the ECR ROX sliders have been installed, 130 sliders, and the folding side steps have been installed for ease of getting in and out. Next up the door gutter kits will be installed and the remaining parts of the interior will be buttoned up.
This image shows the BR130 starting to look like a complete Rover. The remaining parts of the safari cage are back from powder coat and have been installed. The custom gutter kits we made have been installed and a Stage 1 suspension lift has been fitted. The 130 is almost complete.
The next phase of the project will be for us to transport to the project to the trim shop so that they can make the custom soft top. Once the truck returns we will button everything up and make it ready for delivery to the owner.
Here you can see the 130 getting its remaining parts installed. The new soft top is being installed and the new ROX roof rack is being set up.
The Safety Devices dual rear ladder assembly and ROX roof basket are back from zinc and powder coating and are being installed. The ROX rack has low profile mounts for the upcoming Yakima bike racks and a spot for the soon to be installed...
Hella twin bulb Work/Reverse light. Next up we will install the door tops and install the audio/video system and get the BR130 ready for delivery.
Here you can see the ROX rack being set up with the customers choice of Yakima bike rack products. Garage height is an issue for this truck, so we have fabricated mounts that allow the Yakima cross bars to be the same height as the top of the rack itself, therefore making everything work like it should, but be as low as possible at the same time. This level of attention isn't what you get "off the shelf" and it doesn't come cheap, but everything works together, works as intended and is built to last, unlike most things you buy these days. You can see that the rack will hold 3 bikes and still has room for a cooler and a bunch of other beach gear. If you take off the locking bike racks you can just as easily set the rack up for boards, kayaks or even a top box to store your skis.
This Rover will be used all season long, but during the summer months it will be used for what a Beach Runner is meant to do... beach running, and being the ultimate beach vehicle that means open air driving. To make that a little easier we have fabricated up some "occasional" door tops from stainless steel and then covered them with quality Sonnenland fabric and clear plastic.
These units just drop in, or tighten down like a normal door top, and if the trucks sits outside at night the seats won't get wet from the morning dew or a passing overnight shower. You can drive with them as well and they are much lighter and easier to install than the actual door tops.
Here you can see the 130 outside stretching its legs for some tests of all the systems.
The racks parts are all installed now, from the Yakima bike racks to the fishing rod holders that are made to bolt on and off easily so that they are on the rack when you need them and aren't when you don't. In seeing the pictures of the BR130 above the customer decided he wanted a little larger tire to fill up the wheel wells and change the truck's look. We can't say we disagree, so...
off come the tires and out come the differentials. Shown here being stripped down.
The new tires will be pretty good size, so we need to re-gear the 130 from its original 3.54 gears to sets of GBR 4.11 gears front and rear.
Once the diffs are rebuilt with the new 4.11 gears we will get them back into the axles and then get the new larger shoes installed.
Here you can see the BR130 all set up with its new tires and the new gearing that will allow it to work correctly with the new meats.
Inside we have finished up the new updated dash installation. The double DIN Alpine head unit has been installed and things are looking good. The truck still needs to be detailed, so please excuse the dust on the interior.
The Alpine head unit now controls all the audio/video functions of the Rover. CD, DVD, AM/FM, iPod and more. Just select the source you want...
such as your iPod, that is itself safely tucked away out of sight in the center cubby box, and you can control all your iPod functions right through the radio.
Select the iPod song of your choice and you are ready to listen to the 4 JL Audio speakers and the 2x 8" subwoofers deliver great sound reproduction, not matter what style of music you listen to. If you listen to all the songs on your iPod you can switch to the Sirius satellite radio we have installed for tons more music, new and speciality channels.
If you get bored with all that music you can play your favorite DVD. We are partial to Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls, because we built all the Land Rovers used in the filming of the movie.
If you want to sit in the back seat and watch the move we have even added some drink holders behind the center console, and in case you need to charge your iPod, or some other device, we have added a 12 volt power point for the back seats as well.
If you get lost on the way to the beach you can just punch up the built in Navigation and find you way with turn by turn directions. We have even installed a back-up camera so that you can see if the way is clear behind the Defender before you back up.
Here you can see the door tops have been painted and installed. They work just like the originals and have tempered glass (for safety) like the originals but as you can see they are much larger to fit with the additional 10" in the front doors and the additional 7" in the middle doors.
Keep in mind these are not 2 door tops stuffed together to make a longer one, these are unique pieces that have been hand made by the craftsmen right here at ECR.
Another outside shot, this time with the new door tops in place. A few more test miles and the Beach Runner 130 will get cleaned up and made ready for delivery. If you ever had a question about what shop in the US builds the most unique, hand crafted and amazing Defenders, take a look at the images above for your answer.
Here is a look inside the front passenger area. There are no legroom issues here even with the factory AC. (The cruddy seat is just what we call a "test seat". We don't install the customers actual seat bases until delivery. That way they stay clean. All the dust will removed prior to delivery when the trucks gets detailed right before it heads out.)
The larger floor area means a custom floor mat needed to be created, so we found some heavy duty rubber in a 5 bar diamond plate pattern that ties in nicely with the 5 bar diamond plate on the wing top guards. Keeping the details in order makes a truck a custom truck like this look "right".
Here you can see the seat covers have been added for the 60/40 middle row of seats.
The 4x rear jump seats also have seat covers and seat belts for each passenger for safety and legality.
A few shots are the truck has been all cleaned up. Here you can see the extended leg room in the middle row of seats.
This image shows the added leg room in the forward seats, as well as the custom dash and such.
Here it is, the ECR Beach Runner 130, all cleaned up and ready to head out to Nantucket for a summer of fun and sun. This BR130 boasts everything from a built in touch screen navigation system to completely custom made seating positions to allow the customer to be comfortable driving down the road. This ECR built Defender is the definition of bespoke Defenders, and can only come from a shop like ECR. The BR130 will now be loaded up on the ECR transporter and delivered to the customer. If you have Defender work you want done, we can handle it. Our only limitation is your imagination.
If you'd like your own BR110, or if you need repairs done to your existing Defender, contact ECR, we'll be glad to help. We are the USA's premiere Defender source. The BR130 shown above proves that hands down.
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