Defender 130 Spectre Edition Td5 Build
Fresh after completion of our customers Land Rover Defender 130 Spectre upgrades, we look back at what we’ve done to make one of the most iconic looking special editions even better to use.
Initially we were tasked with remapping the vehicle to improve its performance to help shift them 37-inch Trepadors! Unfortunately, there were some big problems found on our health check that first had to be dealt with. From a noisy transfer box to a completely incorrectly fitted roof which was missing several very important seals, it was clear more had to be done. With the parts on order a date was set for work to commence.
First things first, we needed to sort the roof. It may be Bond inspired but it was certainly more rainfall than Skyfall. During its build into the Spectre look the roof had been installed incorrectly, and tube after tube of Tiger Seal had been used to try and make up for it, to no avail. The headlining was a sponge, and the cabin was getting drenched. It had to come off again. And so did the roof rack. Luckily this big job was made far easier with a JCB tele handler onsite, and with the whole cage slung from the forks we lifted it clear to grant us access to the roof.
The sodden headlining was swiftly removed to uncover more attempts to glue the roof up, and even snapped drills sticking from the roof above the passenger seats. Certainly not something you’d want to bump your head on! From there we cut our way through the sealant and worked our way through the miss matched fixings to get the panel free of the car. This is definitely a two man job!
With the panel upside down on the trestles the main problem was clear to see. The rubber seal between the windscreen and the roof wasn’t damaged, it simply wasn’t there at all! Genuine seals were fitted back into the channel, and the proper captive nuts sourced to clamp and seal the roof down properly this time. The proper bitumen strips resealed between all the panels in the body panels again before the door seals went back on, again to give the best possible chance at keeping the cabin dry.
The time came to refit the massive Safety Devices 130 roll cage. With careful driving from the JCB and three pairs of eyes to carefully guide the cage down into place, it was slowly lowered back into position making sure not to damage or scratch anything. The headlining was dried, cleaned and went back in, again replacing any incorrect and damaged fixings as we went.
We’d joked with the customer that none of us fancied the task of getting the 37” Maxxis Trepadors off the roof the day he’s got a flat tyre on the side of the motorway, and given the JCB probably wouldn’t be there, the extra job was added to the list. Find a new home for the massive spare wheel. The trouble? The back needed to be clear to use it still and swing away carriers don’t usually cater for 130s. With some searching we found Front Runner’s superbly well-made wheel carrier. Rated at 60kg too it was just the upgrade we were looking for. It certainly looks the part on the back of this beast!
With the vehicle weatherproof once more it was onto the mechanical work, which meant getting this massive 130 on to the two-poster ramp, not an easy task in itself. We removed the transfer box and installing its new reconditioned replacement. On this occasion we opted to keep the gear ratios standard as the customer uses this vehicle for towing and changing the ratio to 1.211 from 1.4 with the 37’s would make for a difficult drive, especially if there’s a lot of weight on the back. When removing the transfer box, it became apparent the quality workmanship, or lack of, continued underneath too. The dowels which the transfer box locate on to the gearbox were present however they had been cut in half with what looked like some tin snips! The bolts used for the mating the transfer box to the gearbox were also too long causing them to bottom out on the gear inside the transfer box, actually grinding down the bolt. More parts ordered. Before putting the new transfer box back on we inspected the R380 gearbox oil to find that 75W/90 had been installed or similar smelling oil. This isn’t ideal so we had to drain and flush the box with MTF94 (you can run ATF in these) if MTF isn’t available.
While underneath it’s fair to say we found a few more issues that had to be resolved, from a bent track rod, damaged ball joints, loose sump plug (with a poor repair), prop shafts on backwards the list really was endless and all of this before we could even start adding more power!
As many of you who have driven something like these with these tyres, at speed they tend to get a bit wobbly and although replacing all the worn components on the steering system reduced this drastically, it was still present. However, you can now comfortably drive at the national speed limit without having felt like you’ve been doing some serious bicep curls after!
Finally, we managed to upgrade the engine with a Td5 remap specifically designed for this vehicle’s set up. It’s a big car, on big tyres, and it needs to be able to tow. More torque was order of the day. We fitted one of our de-webbed manifold kits and a custom built straight through mid-pipe in the exhaust, before turning to the ECU and its own purpose made map. It’s now far more drivable, pulling away with more power and performing better throughout its whole rev range. Proper custom mapping means it can do all this while being smoke free and improving its fuel economy. Delivering the power where it’s needed, it is a completely different drive to the car that turned up with us on day one.
With the Empire treatment, this head turner of a Land Rover is a whole different beast now. It’s certainly safe to say no job is too big, and Land Rovers rarely come bigger than this!