Work in progress: 1998 Defender 90 300Tdi


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A nice, new chassis is always a good start : credit: © Dave Pettit
Dave Pettit, an HGV Driver from Lancashire, talks us through his project

How did you find this project?

I purchased this Defender from my boss. Now some might think that’s not such a wise move, but I beg to differ. And obviously I knew a lot about it before making the purchase.

What’s the story so far?

I am now 12 months into what was meant to be just a chassis swap. We all know how that normally works out. I’m used to working on Japanese vehicles, so obviously I massively underestimated the task ahead of me.

Original chassis condition was to be expected

Tell us a little about it

The Defender is a 300Tdi 90 truck cab. My boss has owned it from new and it only has 124k on clock. It was used as the workshop vehicle.

Your readers will know that 300Tdi engines just go on forever so I wasn’t too worried about the mileage. With Defenders of this age there are other things to worry about, such as the chassis.

Who has done the work and where has it been carried out?

I’ve done all of the work at home by myself. It is always there to remind me that I need to get a move on. I reckon that it will take another four months of hard work and then it might be ready for my wedding day in April next year. That would make me a very happy man.

What are your plans with it?

I want to restore it to look like it did originally with a few subtle improvements, of course.

How is the engine running?

The engine is just perfect and that is the least of my worries.

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Doors before...

... and after

What have you done so far?

All new serviceable items and renovation of the parts that I could save. I have completed the chassis swap. It has all-new brake lines. I’ve given the bodywork some attention and time, too.

What are the next jobs?

Finish off the bodywork, engine servicing and complete the interior. Nearly there, some might say.

What is the hardest part of this project?

The strip down, so many rusty bolts and lots of cutting heads off. Anyone who has done something similar will sympathise!

What are your plans for it when it’s finished?

It’s going to be my weekend toy car, everyone needs one of those. And used for my wedding too, as mentioned.

Any other projects on the go right now?

Yes, I also have two motorcycles that need some work.

How can readers follow what you are doing?

They can follow my project on Instagram. See