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Old September 18th, 2013, 03:36 PM
rbelshee
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Question Can I legally build a Defender

OK, So I like the look of exterior of the old Defenders. I am not a purist and do not like the idea of paying $50-100K for a truck.

So can I get a series truck or something less expensive, use the body or modify the body to look like a 110, put in a different more efficient diesel motor and be legal? From what I understand I will need to use a legal USA type motor that passes current EPA regulations.

I have read through several of the threads discussing legality of modifying the Defender and how CBP is cracking down and hunting down these trucks, taking them and crushing them. I do not want to fall victim of that so if it is a gray area I am not interested.

If it is legal what is the best and least expensive approach? I want the interior to be a modern executive luxury look, imagine a Maybach inside the Defender... It will actually see dirt roads and rough roads so I want a comfortable ride and am considering air ride (also to increase the height to go over a rock or deep ruts).

I know this is something that many of the members here will cringe at and find detestful (sorry), I suppose that is also part of the reason I am thinking of using parts or building it rather than destroying a perfectly good defender.

Thanks in advance, the primary question is of legality then fesability.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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Cheaper, much cheaper, to buy something than build something.

At least you want to start with a donor and restore it.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 03:53 PM
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Your question is also open ended with unanswered questions. What is your ballpark budget? When you say "build" do you mean you're going to do it yourself? If so, what are your wrenching, electrical and metalworking skills? Or, are you going to outsource everything to local fab shops, etc? Look up the Build and Restore section of this forum . . . lots of guys doing things such as putting new drivetrains on Series or D90 bodies. CBP doesn't apply to you if you start out with a vehicle that has already been lawfully imported into the USA, such as a 25 year or older D90 or Series Rover. Every part for your build can be sourced in the USA.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbelshee View Post
I want the interior to be a modern executive luxury look, imagine a Maybach inside the Defender...
A defender is not for you ... they'll leak rain water on you Connolly hide and lambswool carpet ... there is zero elbow room for your whale foreskin leather door trim ...

and for the mods you are thinking about ... you are dreaming if you think someone else will do the work for less than $50k ... and the fact that you are asking these questions make me think you don't have the knowledge to do it yourself.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 04:05 PM
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I think this is right up your alley --> www.himalaya4x4.com
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Old September 18th, 2013, 04:18 PM
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Ah yes the Whale Foreskin comments rise again... you crack me up.

I question the legality of the project due to the increased crackdown on the defenders. Yes I was a bit vague as to my skills, that was not part of my question initially. In terms of my skills I plan to do it myself, though I may not be the best craftsmen take a look at 1939cummins.info that is the 1939 Dodge 1.5 ton truck I am currently building. It started as a complete truck and I have boxed in the frame, shoehorned in a cummins 6bt in there built the triangulated 4-link for the rear built the air ride suspension components... me thinks I can tackle a Defender project just fine.

I knew that posting the fact that I want it to be a luxury vehicle would cause an uproar LOL

So back to topic, I can legally build a defender. I can import a 25+ year old truck and build it from there even with a different motor...

Thanks for the insight and the laugh.

BTW Leastonce, where do you find the whale foreskin are you the dealer? I am not in the market at all just curious of your background with this material.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rbelshee View Post
Ah yes the Whale Foreskin comments rise again... you crack me up.

I question the legality of the project due to the increased crackdown on the defenders. Yes I was a bit vague as to my skills, that was not part of my question initially. In terms of my skills I plan to do it myself, though I may not be the best craftsmen take a look at 1939cummins.info that is the 1939 Dodge 1.5 ton truck I am currently building. It started as a complete truck and I have boxed in the frame, shoehorned in a cummins 6bt in there built the triangulated 4-link for the rear built the air ride suspension components... me thinks I can tackle a Defender project just fine.

I knew that posting the fact that I want it to be a luxury vehicle would cause an uproar LOL

So back to topic, I can legally build a defender. I can import a 25+ year old truck and build it from there even with a different motor...

Thanks for the insight and the laugh.

BTW Leastonce, where do you find the whale foreskin are you the dealer? I am not in the market at all just curious of your background with this material.
I can source it should you need it ... it will require tanning ... and removal from the whale!

if you legally bring in a legal truck you can legally modify it ... plenty of people take that route. The genuine issue is that people want to take shortcuts and also install engines that don't meet various state and federal rules.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 04:30 PM
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This letter from NHTSA should answer your question:

http://isearch.nhtsa.gov/files/20962.ztv.html


And for the record, if the letter didn't answer your question, the answer would be "no".
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Old September 18th, 2013, 04:38 PM
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Sorry not interested in Whale Foreskin just curious why you know so much about it, it is not a common material here in the USA. LOL

JS Briggs that is directly what I was looking for. So say I find a series 2 with the long wheel base then I replace the hood, grill etc to emulate the 110 Defender, or worse I find the parts from different trucks and put them together... at the end of the day what do I have from a legal standpoint. I understand I will have a bastard child of a mutt that looks like a nice truck, but how does that get registered and if I ever want to sell it how do I sell it.

I am trying to determine viability before spending the cash on the project (which will not happen for several years due to my current project needing to be completed.

Also what is the lease expensive way to build such a vehicle, purchase a beat down series 2 and replace the wings and hood, or go with parts? Also decreasing the weight and increasing fuel economy is a priority.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbelshee View Post
and how CBP is cracking down and hunting down these trucks, taking them and crushing them. I do not want to fall victim of that so if it is a gray area I am not interested.
Could you share links of where you read this has happened ? Outside of Dr Aarons in NC I don't know of a single incident where customs has hunted down previously imported defenders.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
Cheaper, much cheaper, to buy something than build something.

At least you want to start with a donor and restore it.
Soooo true, nobody realizes how many parts there are and how much they are...
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Old September 18th, 2013, 05:12 PM
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Oh I think I have a pretty good idea at this point lol
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Old September 18th, 2013, 05:55 PM
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Darn it I just typed out a reply and the system timed out and delteted it!



Aaron was the guy I was talking about, there were others that I thought Iread about but even the single case was enough to make me reconsider theproject.



I understand there are many parts and pieces as I am currently literallybuilding a 1939 dodge truck to handle over 30,000 lbs, much of it has to befabricated myself as nothing exists to meet my needs. I like the idea of building my own truckbecause in the end it will be exactly what I want (or at least as close as myskills permit). I have installedcomplicated alarm systems, I have built many custom audio systems andfiberglass boxed. I think I have theskills to pull off a project like this, and understand it will not be easy.



My budget will be about $20-30K USD for materials and some labor but much ifit will be completed myself. I will have the paint and some upholsterycompleted by professionals. That has been the plan on the current truckand all is going well. I think thelargest issue from a budget standpoint is finding the parts cheap, they are ridiculoushere in the states. That is part of thereason I am concerned with legality, I will most likely import many of theparts maybe even start with a whole 25+ year old 110 Defender 5 door that is insad shape and build it from there.



Are there any places that offer aluminum parts like the doors, hood or wings? I am not a fan of fiberglass, this truck willbe used and abused. I plan on using itfor Real Estate in and around Santa Fe NM and if you have been on the roadsoutside Madrid you will quickly understand why I want a tough truck likethis. It will definitely see its fairshare deep ruts, arroyos and rough terrain. While that is said I want my customers to ride in comfort thus thereason for the luxury interior. I wouldlike to move the rear seats back to give more legroom, many times you literallyspend the day driving around and I want it to be a good experience.



At this point I am still in the planning stage, I am nowhere near ready topull the trigger on it and I still have to finish my other project first. This project will be unique because itappears to have several legal ramifications. I suppose I would prefer to have it titled as the truck it most resembles,and most likely I will not have the body Vin match the frame and the enginewill not be correct. From what I understandit would be illegal to put a 300TDI into the Defender 110 because it is anon-conforming engine according to the EPA. I will be forced to use something out of a bread truck or something ofthe sort Issuzu or Cummins perhaps to get over this issue?



So if I were to begin a project of this nature where would be the best placeto obtain inexpensive parts or the whole truck? I know everyone wants one for cheap but I am willing to put in theeffort to get there.



Thanks for your assistance!
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Old September 18th, 2013, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbelshee View Post
I know everyone wants one for cheap but I am willing to put in theeffort to get there.
You are CLEARLY not ready to put in the effort if you won't even listen to the good advice given here. Anyone with even the slightest clue about what it takes to acquire, own, and maintain much less build a Defender knows there is reasonable cost but nothing comes cheap. FYI I just moved back to the USA from overseas and the parts here in the USA are CHEAP ... at least 20% cheaper as they don't add Value Added Tax here and shipping from the UK is reasonable. I LOVE the prices I am seeing now from Rovers North and Atlcruisers.

If you want to get in the real game just buy one of those uber cheap Dutch 110s but then come the REAL expenses of ownership. Perhaps you should give it up, dude, go directly to a Toyota Land Cruiser or build a G500 clone.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 08:47 PM
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Cheap defenders available in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Seriously good late model army surplus. Let us know how the negotiations and border crossings go.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 09:02 PM
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If you want to get a feel for D90 ownership on the cheap, go on Craigslist and find yourself a running Discovery from the mid-1990's for about $2,000. Drive home. Spend the next 6 months fiddling with adjustments, ordering parts on the internet, troubleshooting. Now if you emerge from this experience looking for more fun, then sell the Discovery for the same price you bought it for and dive into D90 ownership.

If you insist on doing the Series modification route and are open to engine conversions, it is no different than putting an engine and drivetrain into any truck-framed vehicle. That's a road well-traveled with tons of internet resources (Chevy engines in FJ40's, etc). A decent 4-door Series or ex-MOD (ministry of defense, British military) can be had for $10,000 to $12,000. Engines? Anywhere from under $1,000 for a junkyard piece to whatever.

As for titling issues, go directly to the source: your local DMV (and auto insurance company, too)
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Old September 18th, 2013, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbelshee View Post

it is legal what is the best and least expensive approach? I want the interior to be a modern executive luxury look, imagine a Maybach inside the Defender... It will actually see dirt roads and rough roads so I want a comfortable ride and am considering air ride (also to increase the height to go over a rock or deep ruts).

My budget will be about $20-30K USD for materials.

this truck will be used and abused. I plan on using it for Real Estate in and around Santa Fe NM and if you have been on the roads outside Madrid you will quickly understand why I want a tough truck like this. It will definitely see its fair share deep ruts, arroyos and rough terrain. While that is said I want my customers to ride in comfort thus the reason for the luxury interior. I would like to move the rear seats back to give more legroom, many times you literallyspend the day driving around and I want it to be a good experience.

So if I were to begin a project of this nature where would be the best placeto obtain inexpensive parts or the whole truck? I know everyone wants one for cheap but I am willing to put in theeffort to get there.

Thanks for your assistance!
I think people have this dream vision of what a Defender is or should be. I think someone said it best here on D90: the Defender is a glorified and expensive British tractor.

Reading what your needs and wants are I would get a used L322 and slightly modify it. Or a LC or G-wagon like some others have said. This would be the easier route.

Or if you want something older/cooler grab a solid LWB.

Interior: Get the seats done in some soft leather, replace all the carpeting, some modern material on the headliner, full on DVD/entertainment setup (you said you kick ass at that stuff) and you are pretty close to your Maybach setup.

Suspension: Keep the bags (Bill swears by them) and get them up to snuff. A RRC has the same layout as a Defender so it should do just as fine off road as an equally D110.

Motor: You were talking a Cummins swap so I am sure you will want something different than stock. Keep it Rover and get a 4.6. Or some guys have done Chevy diesel swaps and there are a few OM617 conversions (I am going this route in my D110)

Exterior: Add an ARB bumper, winch, tall MTs, roof rack with lights and many people wouldn't be able to tell it from a Defender.

You would have the truck you want and need for that $20-30k price point and not worry a lick about the title or legality (depending on motor swap). I think Classics look cool as hell and are probably the better vehicle for a lot of wanna-be Defender owners.
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Old September 18th, 2013, 11:14 PM
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I wonder if Defender Source in 2018 will be nothing but threads like this one and this one on ExPo.
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Old September 19th, 2013, 12:27 AM
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I wonder if Defender Source in 2018 will be nothing but threads like this one and this one on ExPo.
O man - I like the new enthusiasm and I am still a newbie in many aspects but I don't know - some of these threads really mike it seem like someone is trolling to get a rise.

I had a guy email me recently asking about the seller on EBay I bought my blue 110 from. This emailer went from wanting to check mine out to see if he liked Defenders to wanting one if he could get it as cheap as a Jeep to getting a refurbed Defender from the UK as someone said that is the cheaper way to do it to going over to the UK and buying 3 and then bringing them all back to the states and he would sell 2 and keep 1 for himself. Each time I would tell him what I thought he would go a different direction.
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Old September 19th, 2013, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by don View Post
I think people have this dream vision of what a Defenderis or should be. I think someone said it best here on D90: the Defender is aglorified and expensive British tractor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by don View Post



Reading what your needs and wants are I would get a used L322 and slightlymodify it. Or a LC or G-wagon like some others have said. This would be theeasier route.



Or if you want something older/cooler grab a solid LWB.



Interior: Get the seats done in some soft leather, replace all thecarpeting, some modern material on the headliner, full on DVD/entertainmentsetup (you said you kick ass at that stuff) and you are pretty close to yourMaybach setup.



Suspension: Keep the bags (Bill swears by them) and get them up to snuff. ARRC has the same layout as a Defender so it should do just as fine off road asan equally D110.



Motor: You were talking a Cummins swap so I am sure you will want something different than stock. Keep it Rover and get a 4.6. Or some guys have done Chevydiesel swaps and there are a few OM617 conversions (I am going this route in myD110)



Exterior: Add an ARB bumper, winch, tall MTs, roof rack with lights and manypeople wouldn't be able to tell it from a Defender.



You would have the truck you want and need for that $20-30k price point and not worry a lick about the title or legality (depending on motor swap). I think Classics look cool as hell and are probably the better vehicle for a lot of wanna-be Defender owners.


Thank you Don for your well thought out reply and useful advice.

Surprisingly enough I was unaware of the Mercedes Diesel OM617 that is an interesting engine with 5 cylinders it seems unorthodox but the reliability of them appears to be exceptionally good. I mentioned the Cummins because that is what I am using in the truck I am building, and appreciate the better suggestion. Cummins are too big and heavy for this build. The only reason for wanting to do a motor swap is because I assume I will buy something that does not run and due to EPA requirements replacing with the 300TDI would make the truck illegal due to it now being a non-conforming engine. Leaving me to find another viable option that is already proven to be ok in the states.

I assume when you mention the LWB you are referring to something like a Series I II or IIa. I am not as much a fan of the looks of the L322, you are correct that going that route is much easier. To make the project simpler could one place the body of a 70’s or 80’s LWB onto a newer frame say the L322? Is there something that matches up well?

I can’t tell if the comment about the truck leaking everywhere was serious or not. If true, what have people used to replace the door seals and keep the weather out?

It is true I am not ready to start this project Abu Buckwheat, that is why I am asking questions and trying to learn from people here. I am not sure what advice I have not been listening to, are you referring to the whale foreskin? Yes I did not take that advice and choose to not use that material… I suppose you were offended at the word choice of “cheap”? Well that was the second time to reply as the first draft was deleted before re-posting. In frustration I re-typedit complete with horrible typos, sorry for that guys! (I just figured out the issue, if you type in another program then copy and paste here it deletes many of the spaces)

I appreciate the suggestions on ways to accomplish my goals.
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