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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for some advice on some upgrades I want to make to this truck.

It is a 1985 Defender 110 ExMod, RHD, 2.5 diesel. I keep it stored in the winter and garage kept in the summer. The top is never on it and we never use it in the rain. The understructure has zero rust and I would like to keep it that way.

This is strictly a vehicle we use with the kids for the beach and for carrying bikes, paddle boards etc. There are seat belts for 8 in the back.

Things I want to do but would like opinions on

upgrade to Tithonus style roll cage but need to figure out what options are available if I want to have some protection from a rain squall - (I've attached a pic I found of what I would like to do for the roll cage and a pic of my vehicle for reference)

change engine to a V8? I have no love for the little diesel. Noisy, smelly and not easy to drive for the wife. Conversion to gas engine? Is this a nightmare?

upgrade the seats - I need seats that can handle potentially being rained on. what are my options?

paint? should I even bother?

steering and suspension are funky. lots of play and not a great stable ride. what type of suspension upgrades should I consider?

Thanks - Ken
 

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Interested in the 2.5 if you pull it....
 

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The Titonus roll cage can take a soft top. You can also do a Safety Devices cage and top.

Engine conversion is much like any other vehicle. A bunch of work. Probably best these day to do a late model Chevy V8 if going that route. Requires transmission as well.

If steering and suspension are funky, they need to be gone through, repaired and adjusted as needed. You do not need any upgrades. The stock setup is quite good. Can you work on things yourself? If not, you will need a bunch of cash.
 

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The Titonus roll cage can take a soft top. You can also do a Safety Devices cage and top. Engine conversion is much like any other vehicle. A bunch of work. Probably best these day to do a late model Chevy V8 if going that route. Requires transmission as well. If steering and suspension are funky, they need to be gone through, repaired and adjusted as needed. You do not need any upgrades. The stock setup is quite good. Can you work on things yourself? If not, you will need a bunch of cash.
This

To add:

Cage: I am a big believer in cages for these vehicles. I went with a P&P - it is interior style and just the tub and works with a soft too. My 2nd stage of my rebuild I will add tubing on the front half and tie in.

Interior: you mentioned seats - I have been running Corbeau as I have found I can ride in a Defender for long periods and they still are comfortable. You could look at what Quadratec sells that is weather proof. With any other aftermarket seat you are going to need to fabricate seat brackets. Also I might revisit the rear inward facing seats - unless you guys are just going to the beach and keeping it under 25.
 

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I am looking for some advice on some upgrades I want to make to this truck.

It is a 1985 Defender 110 ExMod, RHD, 2.5 diesel. I keep it stored in the winter and garage kept in the summer. The top is never on it and we never use it in the rain. The understructure has zero rust and I would like to keep it that way.

This is strictly a vehicle we use with the kids for the beach and for carrying bikes, paddle boards etc. There are seat belts for 8 in the back.

Things I want to do but would like opinions on

upgrade to Tithonus style roll cage but need to figure out what options are available if I want to have some protection from a rain squall - (I've attached a pic I found of what I would like to do for the roll cage and a pic of my vehicle for reference)

change engine to a V8? I have no love for the little diesel. Noisy, smelly and not easy to drive for the wife. Conversion to gas engine? Is this a nightmare?

upgrade the seats - I need seats that can handle potentially being rained on. what are my options?

paint? should I even bother?

steering and suspension are funky. lots of play and not a great stable ride. what type of suspension upgrades should I consider?

Thanks - Ken
It would seem silly to spend the $ to change the motor to go to the beach.
I have a 2.5 NA in a 90 just did the head that seemed to help a lot.
A cage is worthwhile tho.
A good set of waterproof seat covers.
Hands on these vehicles helps I am rebuilding rear windows now.
Or just look for a truck set up like you would like?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've heard it said here before about the speed and potential danger of this vehicle - it's a fair point. I only drive it short distances with kids and beach stuff. It's actually difficult to hit 40 with this engine. I may keep it for that reason alone as I have no real need for extra speed but would like it to be quieter and easier to drive for my wife.

I think I'll concentrate on a roll cage and paint job for this coming winter. Has anyone seen a cage like these that are galvanized not painted black? I was thinking that the 3" tubing in galvanized with some galvanized tie downs, cap rail and possibly corner trim in galvanized with a blue paint scheme might make for a sharp looking vehicle and tone down the "safari" comments I get a little too often.
 

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I've heard it said here before about the speed and potential danger of this vehicle - it's a fair point. I only drive it short distances with kids and beach stuff. It's actually difficult to hit 40 with this engine. I may keep it for that reason alone as I have no real need for extra speed but would like it to be quieter and easier to drive for my wife.

I think I'll concentrate on a roll cage and paint job for this coming winter. Has anyone seen a cage like these that are galvanized not painted black? I was thinking that the 3" tubing in galvanized with some galvanized tie downs, cap rail and possibly corner trim in galvanized with a blue paint scheme might make for a sharp looking vehicle and tone down the "safari" comments I get a little too often.
Something is wrong with it if you can't do well over 40 with that engine.
 

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I was thinking that the 3" tubing in galvanized with some galvanized tie downs, cap rail and possibly corner trim in galvanized with a blue paint scheme might make for a sharp looking vehicle and tone down the "safari" comments I get a little too often.
Not sure anything you do to the truck will reduce the safari comments, its what these trucks are associated with in the US.
 

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Yes, fix the mechanical issues first. St sea level, 70 should be no problem on the flat. Should pull hard to 60 and then start to die off. 40 is insane.

Engine, steering and suspension problems should be sorted first as those are major safety issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
On the highway, going downhill with the wind at my back it might hit 55-60 but the gauge is not accurate. I get passed like I'm standing still at full speed.

It seems to like to run around 40 in 5th gear. At least that's where it seems to be comfortable. I can get it over 50 yes but it's pinned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm only kidding about the Safari part but I really only bought the vehicle for it's utility for my family and was not expecting the attention. No less than 10 people have offered to buy the truck from me. We love it and won't sell it but I would like to do some things to it. What do you think of this look?
 

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Then you have a serious problem with the truck... Have you done anything to check over the condition of things? Filters and such?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Then you have a serious problem with the truck... Have you done anything to check over the condition of things? Filters and such?
I've had it serviced by two very reputable people and nobody said it wasn't running properly. Since I got it that's how it drives. I'm fine with it so I didn't know anything might be wrong. I could just do without the smell and the noise.
 

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If it struggles to do 50, these were not reputable people. You came on here asking about a bigger engine and the advice is fix the one you have. It is not running properly.
 

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Where is the best place to get the single bar you have behind the drivers seats so that I can keep 3 point seat belts when I remove the top? I've seen one on All Wheel Trim but nowhere else.
 

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Do you know which Transfer Case you have? If the RPMs are around 3K and you're only getting 40 MPH you may be running a 1.6 ratio. If the RPMs are low at 40 you've got engine issues.
 
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