04 July 2023
Harry Shipton & Chloe Strudwick, from Hertfordshire, prepare for their African expedition...
What initiated this winter project?
Our Landy has primarily been an overland travel vehicle – we use it to go camping and exploring. Since owning the Land Rover we have had a few different set-ups in the back, each one slightly different trying to maximise the space we have to work with. After a trip to the Arctic Circle, spending five weeks in the back of the Landy, we knew we needed to up our game in terms of storage and organisation. This led us to researching Defender camper conversions.
We made the decision about our expedition to Africa before we planned any work on the Defender. As our expedition will see us on the road for a long time we knew we needed to make some changes and create a comfortable, practical living space.
The pair hard at work building the dream
You are both young professionals. Why the decision to hit the road in Africa?
The decision to hit the road full-time wasn’t one that came easily or happened quickly. We have gone back and forth for years on this as the timing or circumstance has never been quite right. In 2022 we both got to a place where our mindset shifted to ‘life is too short’. This is our dream and we have made it a reality.
Your 110 has lived a hard life, tell us more
Our 110 sure did have a hard life before it fell into our hands; we are convinced it lived underwater for a lot of its time! I bought the 110 knowing full well that the chassis was shot but mechanically it all felt great… But then on the way home after buying it the engine blew up.
The bottom end bearing went and within the first month of owning the 110 I had to source and fit a replacement Td5. I became a mechanic (I say that loosely) overnight. From here I set about restoring the Landy to the best of my ability including a new galvanised chassis, suspension, brakes and steering components, to list but a few things. Over the last four years the list of modifications and upgraded components has been enormous. More recently, before building our camper conversion, we took on the job of replacing the whole rear tub floor.
Chloe lining the interior
You have a new camper set-up in the back. Details please
Designing this build has definitely been the hardest and most time-consuming part. The back of a 110 isn’t huge and therefore required us to be very tactical with the limited space we had. Our fridge was the main component of the build and the dimensions of it heavily dictated the rest of the design. From there we needed to think about what exactly we would be packing into the car, which items needed to be stored where, and this is how we designed and built our cabinetwork. We also have a slide-out bed.
Are there any small jobs you will need to complete when it arrives in Africa for your next adventure?
I was surprised at how much we did manage to get done before the deadline. There are a few snags that need tidying up when we land in Durban, but the majority of the work is done. Some of the specific modifications we carried out in preparation for overlanding Africa, in addition to the camper conversion, included: long-range fuel tank, on-board water with shower system, new bull bar with winch, roof rack and accessories, solar and leisure battery systems.
Any advice to others contemplating something similar?
Be prepared for some hard work and for every job taking twice as long as you think it will. Building a camper in an old vehicle isn’t straightforward. With that being said, we never thought we would one day have a fully kitted-out overlanding camper, and yet here we are.
How can people follow what you are doing?