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1997 NAS Defender 90 LE #99/300 Galvanized Frame Swap
and Crash Repair
This 1997 NAS Defender 90 LE (one of the last batch of 300 Defender 90s imported into the USA) has come to us from IL for some crash repairs. The local body shop who started the repairs could not locate the parts needed to do the job, so the 90 ended up here at ECR. Good thing for that too, because we can complete the repair to a much better standard than any body shop, and we can do it all with longer lasting parts that will make a much better finished product and a much better value per dollar for the customer. The 90 will not only be getting some new body panels, but a new frame as well. Along with the frame we will also be doing items that are smart to do at this time as well, like some new stainless steel brake and fuel lines and more. Once repaired the truck will actually be better than before the accident, and that doesn't happen at a local body shop.
After a quick look over and a trip to our in house parts inventory to pull the parts needed for this job, it is time to start disconnecting the systems so that we can separate the body from the rolling chassis. Unlike other Rover shops, here at ECR you don't have to wait for your new galvanized frame to arrive from the UK or some other source. You don't have to worry about back ordered body panels either, because we stock all these items, frames, roofs, doors, hoods... you name it, we have it in stock and ready for your project. This means your project goes faster as there is no waiting around for parts and it also saves you money because you don't have to pay shipping on frames or other parts that get special ordered at other smaller shops.
Once everything is disconnected...
the rolling chassis is removed from the body.
Utilizing this type of complete body lift system saves the customer thousands of dollars over the others method of taking everything apart, and if you truly just need a frame, it is the only way to go. In most cases we leave the entire body together, but due to the crash damage on this 90 some of the front bodywork needed to come part and the damaged Air Conditioning parts had to be cleared out of the way so things would come apart.
Here you can see why the 90 needs a new frame. The impact buckled the chassis in a couple of places, therefore making the LH side shorter than the RH side.
Its a good thing the 90 is getting a frame now because it was going to need one sooner than later, as the large rust holes behind the gearbox cross-member show.
As is typical in all frame swaps there are some other items that commonly rust on a 90 that will need attention. Here you can see the top of the fuel tank in the 90LE. The fuel lines are badly rusted, as is the fuel pump itself. Now is the time to change these parts and update the truck to stainless steel lines to avoid this kind of mess in the future.
Once the running gear is removed it is time to strip everything we can off the old chassis and do a little: Out with the old...
and in with the new galvanized frame!
The new frame will cure the damage issues and it will last a good long time as well, and the owner won't have to worry about those rust holes that were growing on the old frame. You can see that we try and utilized galvanized pieces in the areas that we see commonly rusting in Defenders. The 90 has new galvanized shock towers as well as a galvanized gearbox cross-member to combat rust.
Towards the rear of the frame, other items that always rust out are replaced with new galvanized parts as well. The under-body portion of the safari cage is all redone with galvanized parts for a less corrosive reaction with the body metal and a longer lasting repair.
Here you can see the body now mated together with its new frame, a straight and true new galvanized frame. Now it is time to hook everything back up and get the 90 LE back up and running.
This images shows a few of the "rust resistant" upgrades that we installed during the frame swap. The brake lines have been replaced with stainless steel lines with stainless steel fittings, as have the fuel lines. The rotted out fuel tank skid plate has been replaced with an alloy ROX unit and the tail section of the exhaust has been replaced with an upgraded unit. Next up we'll continue to assemble everything and get ready to do fix the bodywork.
Here you can see the 90 a little further along. Most of the system are back on line and the new parts to fix the accident damage are getting installed. Here again our exclusive relationship with places like Elite AC make our repairs go smoothly and easily. We stock all the parts to fix the 1997 NAS D90 AC systems. Other places will tell you the parts are NLA (no longer available) but we have them all in stock for our customers to make a quick and painless repair in cases like this.
We also stock all the unique NAS body panels, so when a 1997 NAS fender is called for, we pull it from inventory and get it primed and painted in out in house paint shop. We don't farm out our paint work to some shady crash shop down the road. The paint work quality has to meet ECR's standards as well because it is all done in house. Once these parts are covered in a few coats of clear and then baked at 140 degrees they will be ready to go onto the LE.
Here you can see those new body parts starting to take shape on the 90 Wagon. Soon this 90 won't look like a wreck and if it wasn't for the galvanized frame you'd be hard pressed to tell that it was ever in an accident.
This image shows the 90 ready for some road tests to make sure everything is 100%. The customers choice of brush bar and lamps have been installed to bring the truck back to how it looked before the accident and next up we will get everything checked out and cleaned up and made ready for the truck to head back to IL.
Here you can see the finished product looking and driving great. The 90 LE Wagon is now back up on its feet and ready for action. The accident was a bummer for sure, but in the end the 90 came out in better shape with a lot of new galvanized parts that will help it last a good long time, especially with the stuff they put on the mid-west roads that likes to eat metal. The 90 LE will now be loaded up and headed back to IL for many more years of faithful service to its owner. Crash damage to major upgrades... we can do it all.
If you have needs for your Defender, from routine service to wild modifications, contact ECR. We'll be happy to help make your Defender everything you want it to be.