ECR4: PROJECT DEFENDER
ECR 4 Hardtop addition: Fall 2000
Winter in Maine means cold temps. and snow. These things are great for a weekend snowboard trip, but the trip gets a little chilly with only a bikini top on the D90. The solution: A fully removable hardtop that fits over the roll cage, and one that can be removed in a few minutes.
ECR 4 had to be flexible, soft top or no top in the summer, and full hardtop with all the creature comforts in the winter. The need for this flexibility was the reason behind not keeping any part of the NAS style external "safari cage". The NAS cage means that you can only install the fiberglass hardtop. I had one of those on my old 1994 D90 and it sucked in the winter, cold, loud and fragile when off roading. Because ECR 4 will have a full 6 point internal cage (only 2 points of which are done at this time) it means that any top can be bolted to the 90, a UK style full soft top (you'll see that next spring) or a full Station Wagon hard top.
In this image you can see the bikini top has been removed and the new roof sides and hardtop installed. For the winter months I will also be changing to roll up window doors. The new doors are also installed in this image. The stripes and other detail paint work will be done after the body is correctly lined up. The basic install of the D90 hardtop goes on in just a few minutes, once I get the system built on this first install, everything will be set up for quick removal of the top in the spring, and quick install next winter.
From the back you can see that I am keeping the tailgate with the hardtop. A liftgate set up, much like the "Port of Entry" 1994 D90 Station Wagons will be used to seal up the rear. This is being done for ease of install. The way the top system will be set up, when spring comes around there will only be a few bolts to undo and the top will fit off and the D90 will be ready for summer. If you use the rear door it means a lot more messing around in switching from tailgate to rear door. Adding the rear door would be easy enough, but for simplicity I just don't want to add it.
Here you can see the hatch that was taken from an old Series IIA Rover. The interior brackets were installed into the D90's roof and the side support brackets were changed to allow a bigger window to be installed. The window was made to be the same size as the side windows in the hard top for a uniform look. The rear window in the standard hatch is tiny, and wouldn't have done for my daily driving of ECR 4. The Series IIA latch parts were removed and we built a "port of entry" style latch system for the lift gate.
Once Beckner painted the hatch Alpine White, I installed the new, larger glass, and Ian and I fabricated the mounts for the gas struts that lift the hatch. The mounts were made so that the struts hold the hatch down when it is down to stop any rattles and so that they hold it up when it is open. The custom made lower seal bracket was installed, the rubber seals put on and the rear hatch was all set.
In the image above you will also notice that the paint work has now been done on the hard top and the stripes now continue up the roof as they should.
So here it is. A 1995 Defender 90 soft top, with a full metal hard top that easily comes off for use as a soft top.
Let ECR know if we can do the same, or something else custom, for you Defender!
Back to the ECR
4 build up Section
Back to the Article Section