Work in progress: 1999 Defender 90 Td5


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Early outing in the 90 : credit: © Ed Offer
Ed Offer, a Garden Machinery Sales Manager from Hampshire, talks us through his project...

What’s the story so far? I saw it on eBay and it looked honest. It was up north, several hours away, but I knew it was meant to be when a friend who runs a car transport business told me he was only five minutes away from it when I called. I did the right thing and bought it unseen and sent the cash right away. The seller said that it would come with a 12-month MoT, however he still had to do it. I said I’d do it as my mate was ready to pick it up right away.

The verdict? A couple of days later it arrived and I was very excited. Cosmetically it was everything I expected. When driving it off the trailer I immediately knew something was up. The throttle felt sharp and the whole truck was exceedingly eager. The tyres were all different sizes. The MoT came back and had there was a list as long as the trail of EP90 leaking from the diff, everything from insecure headlights to holes in the chassis. I got to work rectifying the issues one by one until she was ready for retest and it passed.

What next? I then started on all of the bits I wanted to change and improve. I started by painting the pick-up bed that had been abused. Next up were some steel wheels with 265 ATs. This gave it a nice ride height and much more presence. The impatient throttle was bothering me, especially when a friend of mine left me for dead in his Tdi.

How did you solve it? I started to do a bit of digging and eventually found myself checking ECU part numbers. Turns out the previous owner had put in an automatic Td5 Disco ECU. £350 later and the problem was sorted.

The addition of a roof top tent has been a big plus

What other changes did you make? After a few months I decided it needed a bit more of everything. I made the decision that the roof, back door and side panels would come off my 300Tdi 90 and go on the Td5, plus a fresh pair of Exmoor Trim seats would go in the back. I had the excellent idea to try to get all this done a week before a camping trip and only finished the morning of departure.

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I then proceeded to make the truck worse again. This was achieved with a set of 33-inch mud tyres, a two-inch suspension lift and some colour-coded wider arches. Then while dropping the fuel tank for a repair I found the amount of rust it was hiding. I decided to bite the bullet and get a full galvanised chassis.

How is the engine running? Engine is sweet as a nut. I’ve had the ECU remapped so she’s a bit nippier. I’ve just got the engine loom to put back in, the brake lines to connect back up, wings to go back on, then off for an MoT.

Nearing completion? It’s rapidly getting there. During the chassis swap we’ve also added new Bilstein shocks, standard height springs, new bushes all-round and ball joints.

What are your plans with it? Once I’ve finished putting it all back together it will replace my Range Rover Sport as my daily.

Who is helping you with the project? Mainly my pal Tom; he’s a mechanic by trade so has been a massive help.

How can readers follow what you’re doing next? See @EdOffer on Instagram.