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1997 NAS Defender 90 Repairs and Upgrades

This 1997 Defender 90 soft top has come to us directly from the point of purchase for some needed repairs and a host of upgrades. The Rover is in very nice shape with very few miles, but as with any near decade old vehicle it needs some repairs and some service items completed to be in top shape. The new owner of this 90 wants to enjoy it when he gets his hands on it, not worry about repairs or problems. To make that happen he has sent the Rover to ECR so that we can sort everything before he takes delivery of the ten year old Defender in CT. We will make the Rover ready for turn key fun, and free of "used car issues".

To that end we have gone over the car from top to bottom and discussed everything with the customer. We call this the evaluation and if you think your local Land Rover dealer does this for you as then next time you have your oil changed what the condition of your brake pads are... they didn't even bother to look because they don't care. They just want your truck in and out as fast as possible. Once the evaluation is given to the customer we then generate a list of needed repairs and make suggestions for upgrades so that the Rover will be exactly what the customer desires when they get it. In this phase of an ECR project all the mechanical items are sorted out and all the service items are taken care of to make for a strong and secure base to start adding the upgrades to. Above you can see that we have started to sort the mechanical items and we have removed a number of the poorly installed previous upgrades in order to make room for better, correctly installed trick parts.

Mechanical sorting on this sub 20,000 mile D90 was pretty easy. All the fluids are checked and changed as needed, as are filters and lubrication points are lubed to met the 90 ready for the road. There were some leaks to address and some rodent damage to some of the wiring (common in cars that sit this much) but we have sorted everything to make this clean D90 ready to go.

Now that the mechanicals are all up to snuff we have started on the upgrades to make the Defender work better and be cooler. Here you can see we have added the new style hinges that we have primed and painted in the correct Monza Red for a perfect match. We have installed these with all stainless steel hardware and lined up the doors so that they close and latch easily, something the factory often overlooked.

Up front we have saved the original winch, but we have re-wired it correctly. The previous wiring was completely unsafe and about ready to burn this 90 to the ground. Once the wiring was sorted we installed a new front bumper to hold the Warn 9000 and we have topped it off with 3 Hella 4000 lights for the ability to turn night into day on the trail. Later we will be adding a lower skid plate, and our HD drag link and an ECR ROX tie rod guard to make the steering system on this D90 tough as nails and nearly impossible to damage on the trail.

At the rear of the 90 we have removed the lame factory soft top and we will be installing a new Badger Coachworks soft top. The new top will cure all the ills of the factory top and look better and last longer to boot.

This image shows the rear of the 90 where we have installed a full stainless steel hardware kit on the body mounts and throughout the spare tire carrier in an effort to eliminate possible future rust bleeds.

In the cargo area of the Rover we have removed the damaged rear load mat and will be replacing it with a new one set up for the 4 individual jump seats that will be installed back here shortly. We have also started to install the subwoofer box on the tailgate that will house the new Kicker sub to drive the base in the upcoming new Alpine sound system. More on that later.

This Defender will likely have some down time in the winter months so to make the battery last, and to make disconnecting it easy we have installed a Defender 110 style battery cut off switch. Just flip the switch and the new Optima battery is disconnected. However, as this is a 1997 D90 with the GEMS engine system you have to wait 30 seconds after you turn off the engine before you kill the battery power or the engine ECU will loose its stored parameters. Keep that in mind if you are ever changing or disconnecting the battery in your 1997 NAS Defender 90.

To make the owner of this 90 a little more comfortable we have installed a set of our seat rails. The seat rails move the seats a little to offer more leg room for our taller customers. For more info. on seat rails go here.

Here you can see we have completed the install of the new rear jump seats, with seat belts, to make this 90 be able to handle as many people as possible. The rear seats fold up for maximum cargo capacity when you are carrying folks to the beach.

This image shows our ROX footwell trim installed on this D90. The factory used a ridiculous piece of cardboard here and the first time you jump in with wet shoes the cardboard falls apart. Our versions look stock but they are made from alloy that is polymer coated, so your muddy or wet shoes won't hurt it at all. For more info. on ROX footwell trims go here.

Here you can see the upgraded Alpine sound system. This set up gives you AM/FM/ CD/ MP3 and iPod capabilities. That is a lot of music! The Alpine head unit allows you to jack into you iPod directly, so we have made a simple padded bracket that safely holds your iPod inside the cubby box, out of harms way and out of sight. Just plug in the iPod, slide it into the bracket and close the cubby box lid. You now have access to all your iPods music through the Alpine head unit. If the iPod isn't enough music you can select something from the 6 disc CD changer.

The sound from the new Alpine head unit runs through an Alpine amplifier and out to the speakers and the Kicker subwoofer mounted on the rear tailgate. This gives the 90s system the full sound that it needs to correctly reproduce all types of music.

The sub is paired up with a two sets of Alpine speakers. One set in the back...

and one set in the front. Notice we use the factory speaker grills for a nice and subtle looking install. This keeps your 90 looking as stock as possible and just might fool a few crooks into thinking you have a stock system.

Many items we make here at ECR are because of customer concerns. Our seat rails and a number of other tricks we do all came from customer saying, "If only there was a way to...". The owner of this Defender had a new one for us. He wants to have fun in the summer with Rover, and that means taking the side windows out and the door tops off for some open air cruising. However, the customer has another type of Rover (the 4 footed type) and he doesn't want to have to worry about the dog being able to jump out of the 90, so we came up with a simple solution for him, a dog retainer. We told him we could make a small bar that would allow a shortened dog leash to be clipped onto it and this would make it so that the dog could move around, but not get out of the 90, and more importantly not hang himself over the side of the 90. As with many of the ideas we have for customers, we have to give them a little "show and tell" so that they can visualize what we are talking about. Luckily with the use of an old D90 tub, one of our staff and our shop Aussie we could show the customer how it would work even before his 90 arrived for service.

We then fabricated the dog retainer out of stainless steel and installed it into the customers Defender. The simple device will now allow the customer to safely clip in his dogs and not have to worry about them getting out of the Rover unless he un-clips them.

Back under the hood of the 90 we have finished up all the service work. We also added a set of wing top guards as well.

Under the Rover we have installed a ROX heavy duty drag link just in case the 90 bumps something off road. This link replaces the weak factory rod and will take a hit if a rock gets in the wrong place off road.

Behind the axle we have installed a ROX tie rod guard. This unit is far better than any heavy duty tie rod as it fully surrounds and protects the tie rod from harm. Our set up also allows you to use the factory sway bar if you wish and it is tough enough to support the weight of the vehicle. You can bash, bang and grind over rocks and stumps with this unit in place and never have to worry about your tie rod being damaged. A heavy duty tie rod is nice, but a fully protected tie rod is much better.

Up front we have finished up the install of the bumper and skid plate and added 2 ROX recovery points so the customer can winch, strap or recover whatever suits him.

Here you can see that we have tossed the leaky old factory top and installed a new upgraded soft top with the updated door seals and gutter kit. This set up cures the typical leaky soft top that stock Defenders have and looks great doing it.

This image shows the new Good Year MTR radials that we have installed on the Defender. These are great dual purpose tires that are at home on the street and quite good on the trial. You can also see that we have added a new set of running boards to allow folks to get in and out a little easier.

Here you can see the fully serviced and nicely modified Defender 90 has been completed and made ready for delivery to the new owner in CT. This Rover will now be ready for a summer of enjoyment, and with all the great additions to this 90 it will be a very fun Rover to have around.
If you have needs for your Defender, from routine service to wild modifications, contact ECR. We'll be happy to help make your Defender world class... just like this one.

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