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1997 Defender 90 Japanese Specification Station Wagon #460
Upgrades, Vandalism Repair and Service

This 1997 Japanese Specification Defender 90 Wagon has come to us from CT. What is a Japanese Defender you ask? Go here for details, and yes, under the right circumstances they are perfectly legal to import to the USA. The truck has low miles and is in great overall shape, but it was broken into by criminals and messed up badly. The thieves smashed the drivers window to gain access to the Rover and then proceeded to break just about everything in the dash and center console in order to get what they wanted.

The truck had a radio installed in the dash and that entire area was completely demolished (structure and wiring) when they ripped the sound system out.

Even the AC fascia was ripped out, and as you know if you start ripping parts out of a Rover without any tools, you are going to do a lot of damage to the truck and to its wiring harness as well. The crooks even broke a few of the rear jump seats in order to get the subwoofer out of the back of the truck. The bad news is that this nice truck has been messed up and now the owner has to pay to get it fixed. The good news is that we can make it everything that the customer wanted in the first place and we can make the sound system install a little more subtly so that it won't scream "high dollar sound system" to the local thieves

Much like redoing your kitchen, making over the interior of this D90 means that before things get a lot better, they have to get a little worse. So to that end we have started to remove all the damaged pieces and have started to make the changes that the customer wants for his Rover. We will be adding a new sound system, repairing the damage, adding black leather seats and much more work to make the 90 exactly what the customer wants the truck to be.

One of the changes to the 90 to make it more kid friendly is that we will be installing a forward facing rear seat. In doing this it will allow the customer's booster seats to be installed in a safe manner in the back of the truck. To make sure these new seating positions have seat belts we have fabricated some brackets that will act as the upper pivots for the inertia shoulder belts for the rear passengers. Once these are powder coated and all the interior trims go in, this will all be hidden and will offer a factory look.

Here you can see the roof has been removed from the body so that it can be sealed up. It is far too common that the seams in the Defender roofs will leak, like the ones on this truck do. This causes mold, mildew and headliner de-lamination, as well as water inside the truck when it rains.

The fix is to remove the roof and completely reseal it with better products that won't break down from UV damage. Once we rework the roof it will no longer leak and the new headliners will last a good long time.

This image shows the roof assembly after being reworked and in the curing process after a number of coats of primer and the correct Alpine White paint. The roof will look bone stock, but it won't leak anymore.

Inside the truck we have started to upgrade the interior now that all the damaged parts have been removed. While everything is out we have added a layer of dyna-mat. This will help make the sound system sound better by reducing the road noise that gets into the vehicle, and with just a thin layer of alloy between you and the road in a Defender the reduction in noise is a welcome change.

The dash area has now been fully stripped down to the parts that we will be saving. The rest was either damaged in the break in, or gets replaced when we update the dash. The good news on this truck is that there are no rust issues and once back together it will be a great looking ride with a fully custom, and more modern, interior.

While the interior is being working on we are also getting rolling on the exterior upgrades. One such upgrade is the addition of a ROX front bumper and skid plate system. In this image you can see that we have fabricated the bumper and installed it on the Rover in order to make some additions to it.

An avid fisherman, the owner of this 90 wanted some surf rod racks for his truck, and instead of doing the usual crappy looking PVC pipes we have made some simple alloy tubes that will hold up to 4 surf rods and topped them off with plastic surf rod/reel protectors so that the fishing equipment will not get damaged. The rods won't block the lights or the winch and will be a strong and secure, yet subtle, addition to the truck

One great thing about not having to rely on outside sources for our custom parts is that we can make changes and upgrades as the customer sees fit, without any issues or delays. The owner of this 90 wanted a Class III hitch in the front of the truck for ease of moving his boat trailer around. Any place else and this is a big issue as the mail order bumper that shop X would have bought would be already done and powder coated, but at ECR, because we make the bumper too, we can easily add the hitch point in and make the structure behind it strong enough to work without fail. Next up on this bumper we will weld on the recovery points and then get it off to powder coat. There are very few shops where custom touches like this are this easy, most shops just bolt on what others make and in our opinion that is not a "custom" shop.

In the rear of the 90 the side mounted subwoofer boxes have been built up, one for each side. They will be carpeted for a nice matching look to the rear tub and the tops will have a black leather accent on top to match the seats. As mentioned before, the truck will be getting new leather seating and new black carpets, you can see some of those carpets in this image. The carpets are all cut and bound so that they will look great and another layer of backing has been installed on them for even more noise reduction.

In order to make the rear of the 90 safer for the kids, you have already seen where we added some inertia shoulder belts for the rear, but we are taking it a few steps further. We will be adding headrests and even making the rear jump seat taller. To make sure everything is going to work out like we think it will we have mocked up the rear seat with some templates.

This way we can check that everything works before we spend any fabrication time. In this case the added height to the seats will help with safety as will the addition of the adjustable headrests, swiped from a Disco II.

The seat still will fold, and flip if you remove the headrests, and it does not hinder rearward visibility at all. This set up will help ferry the kids around and will work long term, even after they are out of child seats. Now that we know the idea works we will construct the new seat back structure and get it covered in black leather to match the front seats.

Speaking of black leather seats. The front seats are done and they look great and even have 2 stage seat heaters installed for great all season comfort.

While the new rear seating items are being covered in their black leather it is time to get the interior back into shape. The wiring was really badly damaged and even the EFI computer, or ECU, was not working correctly. It would not talk to the diagnostic computer. The wiring to the multi-function ECU was also damaged and things were so bad that the truck would not even start periodically. Luckily we have seen so many Defenders here at ECR that we have cataloged all the wiring in them so that we were able to solve all the mysteries and get the electrical system of this Rover back up to snuff. Once the wiring was all in order we started to address the new style dash installation. Here you can see we have installed the new lower dash section and remounted the AC correctly. At this stage we have also run all the wiring for the new amplifiers, speakers and subwoofer boxes with high quality Tsunami wiring.

Here you can see the doors have been put back together with the customers desired JVC speakers, some more dyna-mat and the doors are now ready to go. You'll note that this truck has power windows (no window cranks), all the Japanese specification 1997 Defender 90 wagons had power windows, but it was a dealer installed add on and the wiring to these systems is terrible. There are no relays and no fuses to the system. So while we are doing all our wiring we have made all the changes to correctly install the system so that down the road this truck will not have a full wiring harness melt down.

This image shows more of the new black carpets being installed over a layer of dyna-mat. The bound edges look factory and once the interior is done it will look like the owner checked the "deluxe interior" package when ordering this truck, but we know there never was such a thing, unless your Defender came through ECR.

The rear carpets have now been installed as well as have the rear shoulder inertia seat belts. You can also see the new wiring for the rear speakers and the subwoofer.

Now that the roof has been resealed to keep the water, mold and fungus out of the interior and headliners we have gone ahead and installed new headliners that finish off the interior upgrade. Nothing says "junk truck" like a sagging headliner that waves in the breeze as you ride down the beach or trail. A small but welcome addition is that while we have everything apart we wire the interior lights together so that when one door is opened both interior lights come on. It sounds like it should work that way, but the way the factory did it the rear lamp never came on unless you opened the rear door.

As the interior starts to come together we have received the bumper and its associated parts back from zinc and powder coating. The new ROX bumper has been installed and topped off with a Warn 9000 winch and 3x Hella 4000 lights. The surf rod holders have been installed as well and as you can see, when they are not in use they blend in nicely with the look of the bumper and they don't stick out like sore thumbs like most rod holders.

Along with all the great upgrades this truck needs some repairs as well. The water pump was leaking and about to let down the engine and a ton of past poor repairs needed to be sorted out in order to make this 90 trouble free when it gets back to the owner. As soon as all the service items are done it will be back to installing the fun stuff.

Here you can see the Safety Devices rear ladder and roof rack support system installed on the Rover. This will be the basis for the new ECR rack system that will hold just about anything you like and will also be able to carry 4 fly fishing rods, 2 on each side. you can also see that we have addressed some rust issues on the rear frame section and given that area some epoxy primer and new black paint to slow down the rust areas that were starting.

This image shows the new ECR roof basket. It is our standard design, but with a few custom touches, as per the customer. At the customers request we have left the stainless steel flooring out of the front section. This will keep the open air feeling the customer desired by not blocking the view, or light, via the factory sunroof. We have also made easy on/off mounts for the fly fishing rod holders on both the side and in the floor of the truck. The ECR basket already has provision for Hi-Lift mounts and work lights built in. The basket will now be zinc and powder coated in satin black and then installed on the Rover.

Back inside the 90 the interior is coming together. The new style dash has been installed and all the wiring changes have been made so that the Euro style switches run the '97 style systems. The new JVC audio/video system has been installed and fired up as well. This system is neat because it has a small video screen for watching DVDs and it also will display a rear view camera, something this 90 is getting as well. It also has AM/FM, direct iPod and a USB input for all kinds of audio choices. You can see that we have also incorporated the correct power window switches and installed them with correctly fused power sources and we have routed the wires correctly.

Here you can see the rear JVC speakers and the subwoofer enclosure/arm rests have been installed. These boxes house a Pioneer slim-line 10" subwoofer each (thats two 10" subwoofers hidden inside this 90!) and they not only offer amazing sound, they will double as arm rests for the rear seat passengers with their black leather arm rest pad on top.

This image shows the new black leather front seats installed and looking great. The seats not only look good, but they feel great and will last long term with their quality leather surfaces.

The front seats are also heated with two stage heated seats that are easily accessed. Flip the switch up and it is on "high", put the switch in the middle and the heating elements are "off". Toggle the switch all the way down and the seat is on "low". This range of heat will make the interior even more comfortable.

The new black carpets have also been installed.

The truck is still a little dusty from all the work we did to it and we have not detailed it yet, and it still looks this good... imagine how nice things will look after a good cleaning.

The new dash is now all set up with the customers JVC heat unit. The unit plays the radio, CDs and your iPod as well.

Plug your iPod, or USB device, into the system and tuck it away inside the cubby box and then control all your music right through the head unit. There is no need to access your iPod while you are headed down the road. Since the new style dash relocates the radio to the dash we have turned the original radio mount in the center console into a small storage area for sunglasses or other small items.

The small screen in the JVC unit will also display DVDs with great sound offered by the new system as well. One of our favorite movies "Ace Venture- When Nature Calls" is our favorite because we built all the Land Rovers for the movie's production many years ago. We built 12 Rovers in all that were used in the film.

The head unit display can also hook up to a rear view camera and the customer wanted the camera to assist him in hooking up a trailer, so we have placed the camera in a location so that it can do that. That put the camera smack-dab in the middle of the rear body so we fabricated a small cover for the camera so that gear or kid's feet getting in and out of the back will not harm the fragile camera.

Once you select Reverse gear the camera automatically turns on and you can easily see if you are lined up with the trailer hitch.

Here you can the new rear seat that we modified and then had covered in black leather. It looks factory, but the factory never made anything like this. The back of the seat is taller and it has twin removable head rests and proper shoulder inertia seat belts as well. If you need to carry kids in child seats or even bigger kids in the back of your Defender 90 this is the set up to have.

The new seat does not interfere with the rear view from the driver's seat and the seat still retains all its functions.

It still allows a little storage behind it and you can remove the head rests and the seat will still fold and flip to have more storage area, or you can remove the seat quickly for a clear cargo area in the back of the Rover.

Here you can see the subwoofer boxes that double as arm rests. You'll notice in this system, and all our audio/video systems that the system does not scream "pimped out system". We do our systems with a little class and yes, this takes more than your local stereo hacks, but the systems are built to last and being this built in, it means that thieves will not notice that huge amplifier or loose subwoofer sitting in your car. The Alpine digital amp in this 90 is housed under the center console, out of sight. It does it job perfectly, just like the 10" subwoofers, but they aren't sitting out in the open.

This image shows the completed dash area. All the damage to the wiring and the structure has been repaired and everything is working and/or upgraded to be 100%. Other shops may tell you items like the automatic console we needed for this job are no longer available, but we have it all in stock, ready for your project, large or small.

A unique touch on this 90 is that the owner wanted the skid plate for his ROX bumper powder coated black. It gives it a different look and looks great under the custom front class III hitch receiver.

Here you can see the engine bay all cleaned up and doing great. This truck would have shortly overheated and wrecked the engine if we had not taken it in for service. The water pump and the fan had major issues, and that would have most likely meant a new motor shortly down the road! It was a lot cheaper to simply do the service and make the needed repairs so that everything stays in top shape.

This image shows the new ECR roof rack system is back from powder coating and has been installed along with the fly fishing rod holders.

The rod mounts have locations that can be on the on the side of the rack for easy access, or they can be installed in the roof basket for longer trips.

Along with the fly fishing rod holders we have also installed a Hella twin lamp work/reverse lamp. This unit works 3 ways. It can be off at all times or it can be set to automatic. That means the rear lamp comes on and off as the driver selects Reverse gear. Another flip on the same switch and the unit will be on manually so that you can load your gear at night.

Here you can see the complete Defender 90 project, ready to head back to CT for the owner to enjoy. The truck is now back in shape after the break in and an amazing custom interior has been created to the owners specifications. The truck will now meet all the owners needs, not just some of them, and that is what custom car work is all about, making a Rover perfect to you. Nowhere else can you have all these types of services, from audio installs to leather interiors, mechanical work to custom fabrication, all done under one roof. There is a difference... ECR.

If you have dreams for your Defender, contact ECR. We'll be happy to make your Defender world class... just like this one.


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