Following the launch of the all-new Land Rover Defender last year, one of the main criticisms laid at the SUV’s feet was that it didn’t wasn’t as readily modifiable as the old model it shares its name with.
That idea was further supported by what happened with TFL’s second attempt to get their hands on a new Defender: after the first one’s engine died prematurely, the second one was deemed undeliverable after a vital cable harness was severed during the seemingly simple installation of a winch.
Meanwhile, the Internet is full of new Defenders modified to varying degrees, from the mild (mostly aesthetic) to the extreme (stuff that makes the vehicle more off-road capable). This almost-white P400 you’re about to see definitely falls into the latter category, featuring a cure to one of the vehicle’s greatest problems: its poor tire selection.
There are two things that limit the new Defender to a 33-inch tire, and they are the wheel size (no smaller than 19 inches for the six-cylinder engine) and the clearance in the wheel arch needed to fit 35s or larger. Now, the clever people at J Austen Fabrications have come up with a sub-frame lift kit that can bump the ground clearance by anything from two to six inches. The great thing about it is it doesn’t affect the vehicle’s original air suspension, allowing it to function as before, which means an extra inch and a half of lift is on the cards.
“Big Bertha”, the Land Rover Defender featured in the clip below, uses a two-inch lift from J Austen Fabrications as well as two-inch lift rods for a total gain of four inches. Then, it was time for “a bit of trimming” to make room for the 35s, a process that also required the relocation of some components. Finally, the brakes needed a bit of adjustment as well since the size of the rotors didn’t allow 18-inch wheels. With that taken care of as well – and the exhaust muffler removed too – Big Bertha was ready to take on the trails. The most difficult of them.
According to the owner, the total cost for this conversion is somewhere in the $14,000-15,000 range. That may not seem like much for a set of mods that will make the vehicle immensely more capable off-road, but when you consider how much the Defender – especially in the P400 trim – costs, it could bring the total cost to over $100,000. That’s a lot of money to put into something that’s supposed to go over razor-sharp rocks and narrow passages, putting it at constant risk of being damaged. But at least now you know that if you want a beefed-up Defender, you can have it.
Article Credit: Vlad Mitrache
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