ECR5: THE ARMS RACE
The arms race begins when you start off roading. You spend countless nights and weekends to get your rig built up "just the way you want it", then you head out with your friends or to an event. The more events you go to, them more you learn. The more you learn the more you want to change about your rig. Add into this mix man's competitive nature and you get "the arms race". The seemingly never ending cycle of making both your rig and your skills better and better.
I'm not ashamed to admit that my first "off road" vehicle was a 1970 VW Beetle. This was over 20 years ago, but driving a VW Beetle trying to keep up with my friends who all had lifted Blazers was not only a good laugh, but a great learning experience. Think about the ground clearance difference, driving that Bug where Blazers where going made the idea behind "pick your line carefully" very clear to me. Later I graduated to 4x4s and eventually to Land Rovers, starting with Series Rovers, then a Range Rover and then into Defender 90s. Frequent visitors to this web site will know that a few years ago ECR built what we considered to be the ultimate D90, a well rounded, butt kicking vehicle known as ECR 4. ECR 4 served very well, and for New England conditions it was almost unstoppable, but there was a problem. ECR 4 once took me out to Moab, Utah for Easter Jeep Safari, a gathering off all things 4x4. During this trip the arms race took on a new meaning for me. The "ultimate D90" did its job well. It did not need to be put on a trailer (we drove it from Maine to Utah and back), did not break down and tackled nearly anything we put in its way... nearly. "Nearly" being the key word. There was more to be had. More suspension travel, taller rock faces, steeper slick rock and more, more, more. The arms race had begun.
ECR 4 was recently sold to a new owner that loves it to death.
Another 1995 NAS Defender 90 was purchased (see above). Yes, it too is AA Yellow, and the plans for ECR 5 started to take shape. The guidelines this time around remain somewhat the same. The vehicle must still be road legal and able to be driven daily, when complete it will be my daily driver, as ECR 4 was. It must be both "trek ready" and "extreme off road ready", but this time that is the end of the parameters. After that, anything goes... here we go.
ECR 5 (version 1)
The plans so far for ECR 5 are really ambitious, a custom frame with a slightly extended wheelbase, custom suspension with HD axles, a totally unique rear body and roof system, etc. etc. Collecting all the needed parts and making the panels is going to take a lot of time.
So as a stop gap measure while the pieces for the real ECR 5 are being built, we have massaged the stock 1995 donor D90 into a moderate off roader so at least we can go out and have some fun. We serviced the Rover from front to back and fixed all the damage from previous owners, piss poor previous repairs and neglect. We then tossed the front and rear sway bars, the running boards and a bunch of other useless crap. Then we added some Old Man Emu springs, a shock drop kit and Bilstein shocks. Next came an ARB front bumper with a Warn winch and some NATO heavy duty steel wheels. Still to come we will install an ECR ROX tie rod guard and some ECR ROX sliders to protect the D90 off road and then put on some medium size Swamper SSR's for grip. These options and upgrades are not going to make ECR 5 into anything "extreme" off road, but at least it will be able to keep up, and it will keep us on the trail while the large parts for ECR 5 trickle in and are made in the shop.
Stay tuned as ECR 5 (version 2) starts to come together.
Fast forward from a few years ago when I wrote the above to today, Spring 2006.
A bumper sticker I saw recently sums it all up. It read "Life Happens". This sure has been the case for me and ECR5. ECR5 does exist, but not in kick-ass wild-o form that I would like to see it in. It is just a nice D90 that I have fun with off road and on. Life Happened... The business got bigger and takes more time now, little Rover fans are now in my life, etc. etc.. I wouldn't change a thing, but my current life really has no place for ECR5 as I thought it would be, so plans have changed. Bring on ECR64.
OK, jumping from ECR5 to ECR64 seems like a giant leap, but the plans now are to keep ECR5 in its current fun form and use it like it has been used for the past few years as a driver, off roader and test mule for ECR ROX products. ECR64 now jumps in as the next project. A NAS Defender 110 Wagon (#64/500... aka ECR64) has recently been purchased and will soon go under the knife to fit my current life (kids, dogs, camping, daily driving, etc. etc.).
The broad strokes are the same... has to be able to get there and back, diesel (of course), good size lift, custom bits and ready to head out on those family treks I want to take with my son as he gets older. So stay tuned for ECR64.
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East Coast Rover Co.
21 Tolman Road
Warren, ME 04864