My old Range Rover Classic, Spenny, rusted out. They all do in the Northeast if you don’t prevent it properly. I didn’t prevent it properly. Now I know how to for my current fleet.
But the body of the truck is the only thing that rusted badly. The chassis is in good shape, as is the drivetrain. I hate to waste those things by just wholesale crushing them. So I decided, I needed another project. I found myself planning a Hybrid, which in Land Rover terms does not mean what it sounds like to any other car enthusiast. A Land Rover hybrid is when you take the coil sprung chassis of a Range Rover Classic, Discovery 1, or Defender, and put a Series Land Rover body on top of it. It’s not a simple task, but not unachievable.
But why a Land Rover Hybrid? Why not get a “real” Series truck?
I’ve been eyeing up a Series truck lately, but I realized that my Land Rover social network has gotten pretty geographically diverse. Though I have great friends here in New Jersey, I also have close friends in Canada, the West Coast, the Rockies, and the South. Off-roading with them means a long Interstate drive. This works well with my Discovery and Range Rover. I decided that if I want a Series truck I’ll actually off-road, I need to make some concessions to creature comforts.
I need the extra power and highway speed capability of the Rover V8, as opposed to the 2.25-liter 4-cylinder in a Series truck that can’t reach the 75 m.p.h. speed limits across Nebraska and certainly can’t keep up with the real-world speeds of 80-85 m.p.h. Coil springs will smooth out the ride, making it easier to cover more miles in a day — I was able to cover almost 1,000 miles in a day in the Discovery on the Mother Country Trail trip last year with no physical issues. If I want to be able to make it to Denver in two days, I need to not be in pain at the end — and I can’t dread the drive home in two more days at the end either.
So my plan is to swap a 109″ Series IIA Regular body onto Spenny’s 108″ chassis. I can hide the extra inch in the wheel wells. I’m designing this for long-range roadtrips and topless summer cruising.
So, timelines. I now have three trucks, technically. I’m overhauling the Discovery 1 and the new Range Rover Classic this year. After that, it’s time for Project SpennyDeux.
On Thanksgiving weekend, I towed him over to my friend Ben Smith’s house to put him in his Land Rover barn for disassembling.
The disassembly began immediately. I’d already taken the front clip off at home, but I spent the rest of Thanksgiving weekend at Ben’s taking more parts off. Almost everything has been saved, put in yellow and black plastic Home Depot tubs. It’ll either be used on Butler’s restoration, saved for the Hybrid, or stored for spares.
The rust was really bad. Here, you can see how the sill completely disappeared around the frame outrigger. Yet somehow, the frame is actually in good condition. This outrigger has some very mild surface rust — that’s it. I whacked it with screwdrivers and hammers and it’s solid.
By the middle of December, I had the shell mostly gutted and the roof unbolted.
After a trip to Death Valley over the New Year, it was time to wrap up. On Martin Luther King Day, Ben and I began cutting up the body shell, finishing it at the beginning of February. We left the front clip, bulkhead, and floor pan to protect the drive train I plan to reuse.
Next up is towing Spenny home and beginning to engineer the project. I won’t start on it until the others are done, but I can plot and plan. The more I do that, the easier it is to do it right out of the box. I’ll probably do a few updates here as that goes along this year, too.