Making a noise


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Martyn and Graham’s work has turned a tired truck into a boom box : credit: © Craig Allen
Once owned by TV celebrity architect George Clark, this Defender 90 is now an amazing space of its own – a mobile DJ booth – thanks to the efforts of Martyn Henderson

Architect, TV presenter and writer George Clark is a familiar face on our TV screens from programmes such as The Restoration Man and Amazing Spaces. When he went looking for a Land Rover to use on his Gloucestershire property he turned to friend Martyn Henderson for advice. Martyn is a well-known figure in Land Rover circles north of the border and is responsible for the Defender Jam events here in Scotland. He suggested contacting Graham Archibald at Retro Works to help with sourcing a suitable vehicle and to carry out any refurbishment work that might be required.

As it happened, Graham soon found something to fill the bill: an honest, ex-farm truck belonging to a customer. It was a later TDCi-engined 90 in silver – just the colour and model George was looking for. The deal was done and the Land Rover was recovered to Graham’s workshop for a closer inspection. It turned out that the truck was in good condition despite its working background as a farm hack. There was the odd scratch here and there but the panels were mostly straight apart from a damaged wing, which was soon replaced and the paintwork restored.

George Clark (left) collecting his Defender from Graham Archibald of Retroworks

With only a week to finish the job, Graham stuck to the essentials – refreshing the tired suspension and giving the engine a full service including replacing the gasket on the rocker cover. A new set of black Sawtooth wheels shod in all-terrain tyres gave a more rugged look while the headlights were upgraded for better night driving. There were a few other final touches including a new set of bench seats for the rear, but Graham had the truck ready by the end of the week, as agreed.

George flew up in person to collect his refurbed Defender and Martyn picked him up from Glasgow Airport in it. George admitted he had loved Land Rovers since he was a kid and was delighted with his purchase. He declared that the truck would be ideal for his new rural lifestyle and it didn’t miss a beat on the long drive home to his country retreat in Gloucestershire.

George was more than happy with the Defender and it all made for a good story. So I was surprised to hear recently that he’d sold it. Furthermore, it was now in the hands of Martyn. I got in contact with him and it turned out that as George was spending most of his time in London he just wasn’t able to use the truck because of the Ultra London Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) so decided to sell.

This is the second mobile disco Martyn has produced and he’s proud of the result

He had given first refusal on the 90 to Martyn who, knowing its provenance, jumped at the chance to acquire it. What Martyn then did with it adds an exciting new twist to the story of this celebrity Defender. Although currently working part-time at Scottish Land Rover specialist, Gibson’s Autos, he also doubles as a mobile DJ. It seemed to Martyn that the 90 would make an ideal base for a compact disco wagon and set about the conversion in his spare time.

Bringing club sounds to an outside crowd: Martyn's DJ booth

The truck was already in good condition thanks to Retroworks, but Martyn wanted to put his own personal stamp on the vehicle so changed a few things. This included upgrading the cab with a pair of Exmoor Trim modular seats and a Mountney steering wheel. The standard radio was swapped for a Pioneer DAB model and the interior was soundproofed and carpeted throughout. Martyn had the TDCi engine re-mapped by Quantum Tuning and fitted an LR Motors steering guard for extra protection up front. To equip the 90 for its new role he then went on to add a pop-top roof rear shelving and outdoor speaker mounts. Then there was the sound system, which comprises Pioneer DJ Equipment including two CDJ mixers and one DJM. In addition, there are two SF60F Danley Soundlabs with a TH28 Sub Bass powered by a Danley Soundlabs DNA 20k 4 Pro Amplifier, which packs quite a punch. The booth in the back of the 90 has an Adam Audio Monitor T5V – this is the second Disco Defender Martyn has built so he already had many of the components.

And what does this button do? Only a DJ knows…

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Over the summer he was able to put his new creation to good use, attending festivals such as TRNSMT, Summer Sessions, Vibrations, Defender Jam plus an event for Land Rover tuner, Twisted Automotive.

I had to see what Martyn had done with this re-purposed Defender for myself and had already arranged a visit to Gibson’s to look at another Land Rover resto. His boss Ross Cree had kindly given him some time off, so we set off in convoy with a couple of his colleagues for a photoshoot at the nearby Boswell’s Coach House.

It was a good opportunity to discover what Martyn had in store for the year ahead, including an informal gathering for Defender owners and change of venue for Defender Jam – of which he is the organiser. I may be a bit long in the tooth compared with his usual festival-going audience, but I was impressed with what he has achieved with the 90 in its new role as a four-wheel drive sound system. Defenders are often used as lifestyle vehicles, but with Martyn at the helm this example is going to be put to work and will be busy on next year’s festival circuit as well as being a fantastic mobile DJ booth for parties and weddings.


Martyn's Specs

• Engine & transmission: 2.2-litre four-cyl turbodiesel, Quantum Tuning remap
• Chassis: Standard Defender 90. Sawtooth alloy wheels in black
• Exterior: Pop-top roof, mounts for high power outdoor speakers
• Interior: Exmoor Trim modular seats, Mountney steering wheel
• ICE: Full nightclub-standard DJ booth with mixers and decks

Gibson’s Auto Services helped to have Martyn's DJ Defender ready for festival season. Contact

Compact Disco

Thinking of booking Martyn and the Compact Disco Defender for a special event or festival? Email: [email protected].


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