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1997 Defender 90 Soft Top
Upgrades and Repairs

This 1997 Defender 90 has come to us from New York for a few repairs and a number of tricks. As soon as the Defender arrived here at ECR we went over it from top to bottom. We call this the "evaluation". Once it is done we give the customers all that information and help him/her with suggestions on what needs to be done now and what can wait. We then formulate the work list and dig into the project. This Defender has very low miles and needs very few repairs, but the customer does want some upgrades to make it a better and longer lasting vehicle.

One of the upgrades for this Defender is the addition of a new soft top. The factory top on the Defender was pretty lame. The Badger 1 top addresses the problems that the factory top had and it is made from better materials as well, for a longer lasting, more functional top. Above you can see we have removed the old factory sot top and loosely installed the new top and door seal kit onto the 90.

One of the major downfalls of the factory tops, and all the other aftermarket tops out there, is that they do not seal around the door top. The upgraded top cures this leak prone and drafty area so that driving a Defender soft top is a much more pleasant experience. The gutter kit makes a full seal around the door, front top and back, so that water and wind do not get in (see arrows). In a factory top, or even a replacement top like most parts suppliers sell, you do not get this feature and it is the key to making a nice leak and wind free top.

Once the door is closed against the gutter and seal system the fit is secure and the top does not "flap" behind the door top when you are going down the road. The arrows show the door top now sitting securely against the new one piece door seal.

Along with the new top we will also be doing some needed routine service work, like flushing the brake fluid and doing some small items under the hood. Then we will be getting into the upgrades that include everything from an Alpine iPod ready sound system to new style door hinges, driving lights to new Bilstien shocks.

Here you can see the customers desired brush bar and a new set of Hella 4000 lights we have installed. These lights will give the 90 much better night-vision and the brush bar gives the 90 a different overall look.

Inside the Rover we have started to make the changes needed for the incoming electronics and upgrades. We have removed the interior parts as needed to allow us access for correct wiring and installations of these systems. Your local stereo shop might run the speakers wires to your new speakers under your floor mats, but we won't.

One of the upgrades to the 90 is to scrap those cardboard footwell trims in favor of new ECR ROX units. As you can see above, once installed, the ROX footwell trim looks stock, but because it is made from alloy with a polymer coating it will never droop or sag, even it is gets soaking wet. More information here.

We are also getting rid of the factory sound system and installing a better set up. Here you can see we have installed the new Alpine head unit and the iPod interface. We also have made a padded mount so that the iPod can be plugged in, put safely into the mount and then you can close the cubby box, with your iPod inside. You then have access to all your iPod songs directly through the Alpine head unit.

Inside the cubby box we also installed a CB radio that is not only a CB, but also has weather band so that you can get weather updates on beach conditions, and we added a PA system as well. To make the system work seamlessly in the 90's interior we relocated the CBs microphone to the side of the cubby box so that it is easy to reach, and even better, not in the way if you want to close the cubby box.

As this 90 is not used as a daily driver, we also added a Defender 110 battery cut off switch. This kills power to the 90 and is great for cars that don't get used much (no more dead batteries when you go to fire them up) and it also has a side benefit of being a great way to turn off everything electrical in the Rover in case of an emergency.

Outside the Defender we have added a full stainless steel hardware kit and new door hinges to prevent ugly rust bleeds from the hinges and hardware. For more information on hinges go here.

Speaking of stainless steel, the customer wanted a quick and easy way to be able to remove the door tops for summer driving conditions. To make that happen we have installed a set of stainless steel door top studs and quick-nuts. Once the new speaker and door panel are back in place these will hardly be seen, but they allow you to take the door tops off easily, without having to fumble with the factory nuts and tools needed in doing it the original way.

We have also added a new set of BFG tires, as the old units were getting pretty dry rotted, and to make things handle a little better we have added Bilstein shocks all around to replace the lame factory shocks.

This 90 isn't a big off road rig, but for safety sake, in case of even a day of mild off roading, we have added an ECR ROX tie rod guard. The tie rod on a 90 or 110 hangs down as the lowest point of the vehicle and is easily damaged. This simple, but robust, guard makes it so that if you do happen across a rock or stump that is a little too tall it won't ruin your day, or your Rover. As you can see above our system allows you to keep the factory sway bar in place if you like.

In the rear cargo area of the 90 we have added a set of side boxes. These are great on a soft top Defender because they give you a secure place to store and lock up some gear. They also double as a great arm rest for people sitting in the rear bench seat. We top off the side boxes with a custom spacer that takes up the are behind the side box, and paint it body color, for a nice finished custom look. Inside each box is a new Alpine 6x9 speaker that will give the new sound system some added punch.

The owner of this 90 plans to take the top on and off in the summer, so we placed the new CB antenna at the back of the 90 on a custom ECR ROX bracket, instead of up front where it would get in the way of dealing with the soft top.

The bracket was then painted in the 90s body color so that it blends in as much as possible. Installing the CB antenna this way means no large holes in the body and it keeps the antenna out of harms way on the trail. Yes, for maximum CB performance the antenna should be mounted higher, but the CB in this rig is just for occasional use, and this set up keeps the overall height down as well, so the Rover can still get into a city garage.

Here you can see the door panels have been re-installed with the new Alpine speakers and stainless hardware and are ready for action.

This image shows a detail of the ECR ROX kick panel replacement on the passenger side of the 90. Clean and stock looking, but tough as nails.

Here you can see the completed 90, tested and ready to head back to New York. In this Defender we have done a ton of small service items that needed to be taken care of on this otherwise very clean Rover. We have also made a number of changes and upgrades to make this 90 better than stock and also a few custom items to make the vehicle exactly what the customer wanted.
If you have needs for your Defender, no matter if they are large or small, contact ECR. We'll be happy to make your Defender exactly what you want it to be.

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