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Ready for some serious desert terrain : credit: © Alisdair Cusick
A 2500km adventure around Morocco, by road, trails and dunes. You don’t need a motorbike, you need a Land Rover, as Alisdair Cusick finds out

It is a given fact that Land Rovers have always been the most capable vehicles in the world for off-road driving. Equally given is the fact that only a handful of owners use them as intended. How many of us dream of taking our own Land Rover on an adventure – a visceral, cross continents, off-road adventure – meaning you got to scratch that itch, and to savour the full abilities of you and your Land Rover to the full?

One man doing exactly that is Rob Tasker, and this is the Land Rover he’s built to do it. The car is an ex-military 1987 One Ten V8 – now with a 200Tdi in it – and the event is Scram Africa.

Rob's 110 enjoys many exclusive mods, including the ORE 4x4  prototype modular front winch bumper

We’re familiar with an army Landy, but what of the event?  “They’ve been doing it about a decade” explains Rob. “It was motorbikes only: scramblers, but old, vintage scramblers.” Starting in Tangiers, navigating around Morocco via rally-style tulip diagrams, across the Atlas Mountains and the Dates Gorge in a big, loose loop, Rob tells me, adding there’ll be some camping, too. “Some road, some off-road; but what roads there are will be dirt roads, while the rest will be rocky or sandy,” he warns. All in, the trip is about 2700km, over nine or ten days.

Fine sand typical of conditions on the event

“I’d already bought the car, intending to do it up and use it as an off-road driving instructor,” says Rob. “Two weeks later, Dave Lea (of Shropshire-based 4x4 Fabrication) called up, asking if I wanted to do Scram Africa. This was the first year they’re letting 4x4s in, but they have to be over 30 years old.” A glimpse at the publicity for the event reveals the basis for their enthusiasm. The evocative, Tintin-style poster is right on-point to capture the mythical adventure we dream of, but if that wasn’t enough, it even includes a Series I, screen-down, leaping across the dunes. Not only did Rob agree to do it, but Dave, plus another pal called David were going, too.

Door tops come off and sides roll up to help battle Moroccan heat

​​Decision made for the trip, they were equally as decisive they were taking the 110 – but not as it stood. Reasoning they needed an engine with an eye on reliability, not just big power, they turned to the venerable 200Tdi, which Dave Lea then sourced. The build was on, the deadline set.

“I went up to his workshop and took it apart, with help.” recalls Tasker. “We stripped it from a rolling vehicle to a chassis, tub and engine out in 23 man hours. I’ve had Series models before, but I’m an ex-farmer, so I’m used to being hands-on. They’re simple machines.”

The military chassis, still wearing original paint, was shot-blasted, needing only a couple of repairs; an outrigger and a crossmember fishplate. Hardly horrific for an aged One Ten. Signed-off, it then got sprayed with ten litres of truck chassis black.

Standard military-spec springs retained

Two and a half thousand kilometres off-road needs good suspension, and for that Rob decided to stick with the standard military springs. “We decided Land Rover has spent millions developing the best suspension, so we stuck with that,” says Rob. Superpro bushes, FOX remote reservoir shocks and Adrenaline cranked front and rear trailing arms refreshed the handling to cope with concentrated off-roading.

Puma 90 axles fitted front and rear – diffs can be swapped over in an emergency to keep mobile

“I rebuilt the axles, but we changed from the military setup with Salisbury rear, to Puma 90 axles all round,” says Rob. “It added disc brakes, but it also meant, in the event of a diff failure, we could swap front to rear and remove the front prop, just to keep going.” Automatic Torque Biasing (ATB) diffs were fitted in the rear and centre, as they don’t require driver input to lock a diff. If the unit senses loss of traction, it mechanically transfers torque to the side with traction. An ideal system to cope with changes in terrain whilst (hopefully) keeping you moving. “Winchester Gears rebuilt the gearboxes, using standard gears, apart from a taller fifth to aid motorway cruising,” reveals Tasker. One lovely surprise in stripping the car was to discover it had an R380 stubby gearbox. A replacement for the earlier LT77, the later ’box, used a 30mm shorter bellhousing to fit four-cylinder engines, including the 200Tdi. “It is the gearbox everyone wants,” exclaims Tasker.

The procured Tdi had previously been rebuilt for motorsport and sported twin alternators, but Dave still took it apart and rebuilt the motor, detailing it faultlessly in building it back up. A high pressure pump, high pressure injectors and a bigger variable vane turbo went on to maximise torque, and a glossy exhaust from Demand Engineering brought up the rear. Beautifully finished, the engine really needs photographing on a stand rather than thrashing though the desert.

Bye-bye original V8, hello motorsport-spec 200Tdi unit. Much upgraded, it features a larger, variable-vane turbocharger

Bodywork-wise, the original tub and wings were good enough to reuse,  “we had to replace the doors as they’d rotted out, but we kept the original military sliding tops,” Rob tells me. The bulkhead wasn’t beyond repair, but time constraints meant a straight swap for a Td5 part. Dave had a fully dressed one in stock, with the benefit the One Ten could have a Td5 wiring loom, better dash and later clocks,” adds Rob. The caved-in bonnet was replaced, then the whole car brush painted with NATO green paint.

The front sports an ORE 4x4 prototype modular winch bumper, with daylight running lights and Warrior winch, a Nakatenga grille and ORE headlights, though pride of place comes to a rather unusual addition: an Elliot Brown watch. The Dorset-based timepiece manufacturer, on hearing about the trip offered a watch to bolt on the front of the car for real-world testing. Once Rob has finished the event, the watch will be returned and auctioned for charity. A Safety Devices roll cage was fitted for peace of mind, plus a Laser light bar, roof rack, spare wheel and awning plus an Undercover Covers item, with some customised extra straps.

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BF Goodrich Mud-Terrains on Wolf rims ready for harsh off-road surfaces

Wolf rims, the toughest wheels for Land Rovers, wear BF Goodrich 255/85 R16 Mud Terrains, spaced out on 30mm spacers for extra stability, with wider spats to keep the car cleaner for longer. Gwyn Lewis mudflaps further tame flying crud, and Lewis’ famed beefy steering bars are also fitted. Terrafirma rock sliders, NAS rear step and a prototype ORE tailgate wheel carrier holds a second spare.

Appropriately, spares are housed in ex-MOD ammo boxes​​​​​​

Inside there’s floor-mounted storage, Nakatenga roof storage for camping kit, 55-litre fridge, and boxes for spares. ‘‘We’ll have three forward-facing Puma seats, so we’re all comfortable, as we’re three big blokes,” explains Tasker, though the fronts are fitted with MUD UK risers. For comfort, the handbrake has been moved a few inches to the left, which will no doubt be a boon on those long, long hours on autoroutes.

Sports steering wheel is a fun touch, as is the pool ball gearknob

The Td5 bulkhead allows them to run a Td5 speedo, though the clock is about to be swapped for an oil pressure gauge and a Raptor centre pod, coffee mounts and fusebox finish the utilitarian, carpet-less cab. All Land Rovers need some DIY creativity, and for that Rob turned to his wife, Brenda, who cut up an old Melvill and Moon seat cover to fashion a canvas cover for the cubby box, adding twin pockets at the front.

“I’ve tested the vehicle off-road, and I’ve had Bob Ives look at it, who says we’ll be fine,” reveals Rob. “I think the biggest thing is the rocks and dust. We’ve got an ARB compressor so we can blow out the air filter every day, but that’s also why we didn’t fit a snorkel, so the air inlet is hidden”

Spade handy for digging the car out, as well as for more personal applications…

The spares kit runs to brake lines, boost hoses, throttle cable, wheel bearing, front and rear stubs, front and rear shocks, propshaft UJs, spare oil and air filters plus some oil and fluids.  “We have support with us, if we have a real problem – but we’ve also got a 200 Tdi.” He crucially has Dave Lea, who is one of the handiest Land Rover techs around. “In the military, a 200Tdi Dave was in got shot through the radiator. They drove it for three days, with no fan and a hole in the radiator, just by topping it up,” recounts Tasker.

Rob's adventure doesn't end in Morocco

​​​​​​“After the event, I’m turning almost straight around and driving north-south to Portugal in it, along with nine or ten people in Series Land Rovers, then return home via the Spanish mountains and Southern France,” says Rob. All in, he guesses on around seven to ten thousand miles, in two months.

It is an enviable adventure, but the real story is the relative simplicity of a One Ten and on-form 200Tdi. They’ve beefed up shocks, put in automatic locking diffs, a taller fifth and a fancy turbo. But in essence, the car is simply the well-engineered Land Rover we all know and adore. That’s really all you need for the trip of a lifetime: a sense of adventure, some knobbly tyres and your Land Rover.

 

Spec list

• Uprated 200Tdi
• VNT Turbo
• Twin alternators
• Safety Devices exo roll cage
• 55L fridge
• Roof rack
• Tuff-Trek Awning
• 3rd rear front-facing seat
• Warrior Winch T1000
• ORE 4x4 prototype modular winch bumper
• ORE 4x4 early rear wheel carrier
• Laser light bar
• LTPRTZ LED headlights
• Raptor dash
• Metal lockable cubby box
• Pioneer brake and fuel lines
• Demand Engineering stainless exhaust
• Fox long-travel twin reservoir shocks
• AP front brake calipers
• Puma 90 axles
• ATB rear diff
• Heavy-duty half-shafts
• Gwyn Lewis heavy-duty steering bars
• R380 stubby gearbox with taller 5th gear
• Standard Land Rover military springs
• 255/85 BF Goodrich KM3 Mud-Terrain
• Wolf Rims
• Almost entirely stainless steel bolts

Rob would like to thank: 4x4 Fabrication/Mahker; Gwyn Lewis; ORE 4x4; UK Defenders; Adrenaline; Winchester Gears; Prolinx Suspension; LOF Engineering; Adrenalin 4x4; Melvill and Moon; Elliot Brown; Pioneer; Demos; Demand Engineering; Design & Development.  contact: 4x4fabrication.co.uk, mahker.com

 

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