17 February 2023
Claas Heinemann, an economics graduate from Germany, tells us about his project...
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m 23-years old and live in the north of Germany. I have just finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.
How did you find this project?
I have been fascinated by Land Rover Defenders from a very young age. Three years ago, the desire to own a Defender and turn it into a camper just seemed to get stronger and stronger.
I spent a lot of time online to find the perfect base for my dream Defender. I posted an ad in a Land Rover forum in Germany and found a super-nice Land Rover enthusiast who wanted to part with his faithful Defender.
What’s the story so far?
After nearly two years of searching, I finally found a suitable Defender and bought it. In 2017 I completely restored a 1972 Simson Schwalbe moped, from which I gained invaluable mechanical experience. When I bought my Defender I had zero Land Rover mechanical experience. That has changed rather quickly.
Claas is learning quickly
What are your plans with it?
Besides the camper conversion – for which I spent countless hours on Land Rover forums and other platforms looking for inspiration – I would like to improve my mechanical skills and knowledge.
How long have you owned it?
I bought the Defender at the beginning of 2021 and have driven around 7000 kilometres since then. The engine runs very smoothly and has not let me down so far.
What are the next jobs you will be doing?
I would like to finish most of the interior work in the coming months. After that, I will change the V-belt and install the hot water shower. The cooling water temperature will be transferred to the water circuit for the shower via a heat exchanger.
Holes help air to circulate, and save weight
What is the hardest part of this project?
The most difficult thing was to plan the camper conversion, as it is my first attempt. On the first major trip in the summer of 2021, I found out which compartments have proved their worth and what I still need to change. It turned out that condensation formed under the mattress at night. So, I made holes in the wooden boards so that the air can circulate under the mattress. A nice side effect is that the boards have now lost 30 per cent of their weight.
When will it be finished?
A Defender will never be finished. But the conversion will be completed this summer.
I originally bought the Defender to drive from Germany to Mongolia.
Because of the current situation, the itinerary has changed. The camper extension will be extensively tested this summer on a journey of several months through Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey and Georgia.
After my Master’s degree, the long journey to Mongolia is then on the agenda. Another dream of mine is to drive through Africa. So there will be many more trips with the Defender in the future.
The camper nears completion
Who is helping you with the project?
I would like to say a big thank you to my dad, who is actively supporting me with the conversion. It is often much easier to have four hands and a second person to help with tricky tasks.
Anything to add?
I still haven’t found a suitable name for my Defender. If you have an idea, feel free to write to me on Instagram. My account name is @defender_atw.
There you can find detailed pictures and videos about the camper conversion as well as reports about camping accessories and trips. If you have any questions about my Defender, please get in touch.
LIKE TO READ MORE? Try our Budget Digital Subscription. You'll get access to over 7 years of Land Rover Monthly – that’s more than 100 issues plus the latest digital issue. The issues are fully searchable so you can easily find what you are looking for and what’s more it’s less than 10p a day to subscribe. Click here to find out more details and start enjoying all the benefits now.