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Camper body was designed by Tomas using 3D software : credit: © Tomas and Zuzka Engliky
This Disco saved its owners’ lives, and is now a lifelong member of the family…

There’s an old saying. Two’s company and three’s a crowd. But for Tomas and Zuzka Englicky and their Discovery camper, known affectionately as Landy Sweet Landy, three isn’t a crowd, its perfection.

“We bought our 1994 Discovery 200Tdi 13 years ago,” Tomas tells me. “I couldn’t decide what would be the best Land Rover to buy, and my good friend Nick said that I should get a Discovery. I have to say it has proved to be very good advice. When we first got it, we didn’t have any plans to turn it into a camper, and the sequence of events that led to it becoming what you see today are both very happy and very sad, to say the least, but Landy Sweet Landy is now very much part of the family and Zuzka and I will never part with it.

“The initial plan was to upgrade from standard spec with things like storage boxes and a cooking area in the back, and a roof tent, so that we could travel and camp in it. When everything was finished we were ready to start fulfilling our dreams, and we drove it regularly from our home in the Czech Republic to Montenegro, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and the place we love the best, Bosnia.

“Before one particular journey to Bosnia I decided to prepare a secret marriage proposal to my then-fiancée, Zuzka, and I planned a wedding on the shores of the beautiful Lake Buško, which is close to the border with Croatia and only 50km [31 miles] from Split, on the Adriatic coast. Zuzka knew absolutely nothing about my plans, and it was a big surprise when we made camp at the lake and I got the boat off the roof of the Landy, took Zuzka out onto the water, and proposed to her.

Newlyweds Tomas and Zuzka when the Disco just had a roof tent for camping

“Luckily, she said yes, and I told her we would have our wedding the following day on the shores of the lake, and I showed her where from the boat. During the wedding ceremony, Landy Sweet Landy was our witness and was behind us the whole time. It was already an important part of our family but was about to become even more important to us in the most dramatic of ways.

“Soon after the wedding we drove down the coast to Montenegro to spend a few days beside the sea. Fatefully, we decided to stay there for an extra day and on the final evening we moved the Discovery closer to the sea in order to make the most of the last rays of the sun on our solar panels.

Results of the storm

“In the middle of the night we were asleep in the roof tent when there was a huge thunderstorm that brought with it the most ferocious gale-force winds. I woke Zuzka and told her we had to move immediately. We only had seconds. We took shelter in the car, but the roof of the camp restaurant blew off and a huge beam flew across and destroyed the roof tent. If we had still been in it, we would almost certainly have been badly injured or killed.

“Shortly afterwards, more heavy debris smashed into the windscreen and showered us with broken glass, causing multiple cuts all over us both. The car was rocking from side to side, but we managed to get out and run to my father’s Range Rover and hide with them until the storm passed.

Their D1 wrecked

“In the morning we saw the extent of the damage to our Discovery. It was heartbreaking, but we also realised it had saved our lives. I put a call through to my insurer who told me to scrap the car in Montenegro. They were probably not prepared for what followed, but I made it crystal clear to them that scrapping our Discovery was absolutely not an option! We called a recovery trailer to come and pick us up and take us and the car back to Czechia. On the way home, Zuzka and I came up with the idea that we should build a proper camper, and so began the two-year odyssey to save our Landy.

“The rebuild was finally completed in June 2021, and since then we’ve driven over 25,000km [15,538 miles] in it, and visited Slovenia, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Norway, France, Croatia, Hungary, Austria and, of course, Bosnia.”

What Tomas and Zuzka have achieved is a practical, comfortable, and beautifully designed and engineered vehicle that is a credit to them both. It is perfectly tailored to their personal views of what an ideal camper should offer, and it’s easy to understand why Landy Sweet Landy has become such a firmly embedded member of the family. Tomas tells me more about how he turned their combined visions into reality.

“In terms of the design, I began by sketching everything on paper. I know it sounds old-fashioned but probably 90 per cent of the project was initially done on paper. Then I used SketchUp, which is a suite of online 3D-modelling CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software made for a wide range of drawing and design applications. I found it was reasonably easy to learn how to use, and we soon had a range of 3D drawings that allowed us to get a really good sense of what the finished vehicle would look like.”

The rebuild underway

The camper body frame was constructed from zinc-coated steel 30 x 30 x 1.5mm, with 30 x 50 x 2mm for the floor. This is covered with Dibond, which is an aluminium composite sheet made up of two aluminium cover layers sandwiching a filling made from a mixture of recycled rubber tyres and plastics. It is lightweight and extremely rigid and strong, making it ideal for applications like the camper body. The inside was lined with 30mm hard foam insulation on the walls and roof, and 50mm on the floor, and the internal framework for the storage units was made from aluminium profiles.

“I absolutely hate corrosion, so there isn’t really anything that hasn’t been treated with zinc anticorrosion protection. The chassis was hot zinc treated, while the body, axles, springs and all small components have zinc metallisation. The entire underbody area is coated with Raptor and then two coats of polyurethane. I made the steering guard from 4mm steel, sanded and hot zinc treated. There are four shock absorbers at the front and four at the rear, and height adjustment at the back is managed by additional airbags.

Finished project: External shower one of the many mod cons of this thoughtfully designed camper

“Externally, at the front there is a 3600kg electric winch mounted on a bumper made by Polish specialist MP4x4, while the rear bumper was custom made by my friend Vladimir and is fitted with a 3000kg winch. There are two folding adjustable body stabilisation legs that swing down from either end of the rear bumper.

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Tomas’s mate Vladimir custom built a hinged front mount for the spare wheel

“The spare wheel appears to be mounted on the bonnet, but it is actually attached to a bespoke frame that hinges on the front bumper. Vladimir made the spare carrier and also the sidesteps. A snorkel is fitted and there is a pull-out awning on the right-hand side, which has side walls so it can be turned into an enclosed tent.

“Engine and drivetrain modifications include a bigger intercooler and oil coolers for the gearbox, an alloy radiator and an additional one to improve cooling. The electrical system revolves around solar panels and multiple batteries in the engine bay and the camper, all of which can be charged from the engine and the four roof-mounted solar panels which total 300W. We also have a 220v/800W petrol generator, in case there’s no sun, and a 2kW diesel air heater which is controllable from the camper and from the driving seat.

Kitchen looks more like the inside of a house than a camper

“We thought very carefully about the interior of the camper and what we wanted, and we are very pleased with the end result. We have seating for four people and a cooking area with a custom-made hood. There is a sink and an interior 80 x 80cm folding shower unit that takes just a couple of minutes to prepare for use, plus an outside shower and external tap. Hot water comes via a heat exchanger connected to the air heater. This is very efficient and can heat the water at the rate of one degree per minute. There is even a 12v/100W immersion heater as a fall-back. We also have a 12v to 220v/500W inverter.

Interior seats four when not being used for sleeping duties

“We have an 80 litre fridge with a 12 litre freezer, a chemical toilet, and plenty of storage space. The area above the cab is used to store chairs, table, foldable oven, foldable fireplace, large pans, foldable washing machine, boots, dirty laundry and, of course, the all-important goulash kettle! The folding sleeping platform measures 185 x 140cm and takes no more than a minute to prepare. Inside there is also space to store around 25kg of tools and 30kg of basic spare parts, as well as my 1:10 scale radio-controlled Defender, and the drone. We have an audio system with a subwoofer, radio, and USB player, and a projector so we can watch videos during bad weather.

Cab has been beautifully rebuilt

“I dismantled the original trim in the cab and repaired it where necessary, and everything was deep-cleaned before reassembly with all the additional electrics and other components. The seats came from a Suzuki Swift and these were renovated and retrimmed in leather.

Bags hanging on rear hold everything from water containers to chainsaws

“The stowage bags and racks on the rear of the body hold water containers, a chainsaw, ropes, recovery equipment, snow chains for all four wheels, and emergency lighting. One of the storage bags is used as a trash carrier. All external and interior lighting is LED, and one thing we have done in response to our nightmare experience in Montenegro is to fit safety laminate to all the glass.

With over 25,000km under its wheels since the rebuild was completed, I wonder if there is anything that Tomas and Zuzka would change in the light of practical experience? “Not really,” they tell me confidently. “We are very pleased with the way the whole project worked, not least because to build a conversion like this for the first time is always a worry in case it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped or expected, but there really isn’t anything significant that we would change if we were doing it all over again. Our previous extensive experience of long-distance touring and camping was hugely important, because nothing beats practical knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, and what’s right for some people won’t necessarily be good for others.

Tomas with his pride and joy

“We received a lot of help on the project from friends and I’d like to thank Nick, Vladimir, Václav, Martin and Jindra. We couldn’t have done it without you. I’d also like to thank my mother, who made the covers and curtains and the extremely useful ‘pickpocket’ hanging on the inside of the camper door. Thanks also to my father, whose Range Rover P38A was in regular use for two years providing ‘project transportation’.”

So what’s next for Landy Sweet Landy? “We want to spend the next few years seeing more of Europe,” Tomas tells me. “We love the Balkan peninsula, and Zuzka and I are thinking about establishing a small company offering guided tours of the region. It would also be nice to think that we might be able to go further afield and enjoy discovering some other continents.” I think they should bring the Disco to LRM Live at Malvern, where I know it will attract huge interest.

 

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