From tired workhorse to monster 200bhp weekend warrior. Former army tank man Brendan Prudom wanted his practical daily driver and dog transporter to go where no cars could – as well as where fast cars can Words: Jerry Thurston. Photos: Laurens Parsons.
BETTER OFF RED Ultimate Double Cab Lifted, tuned and changed to be one man’s vision of excellence – and what a vision!
It’s like the Dakar. A swirl of dust rises in the 30-degree heat and the rasp of a 230bhp-plus Td5 bounces of the sheer walls as the 110 pelts across the quarry floor in a flash of metallic maroon paint. Brendan has arrived, then.
He’s brought Darla for us to see. Nope, that’s not the name of his friendly boxer dog. Darla is his 110 Double Cab, a keeper now he’s got her the way he wants.
Brendan has had many Land Rovers, from V8 and 200Tdi 90s, to a Disco 3 and was even sponsored by JLR for a rally across Europe where they provided him with a Disco 4, fresh of the line. So why is he driving a 16-year-old 110 now? Simple – as much as he loved his Disco 3, when it stopped running, parts prices were astronomical. An actuator broke and, even heavily discounted, the replacement would have set him back £550. Ouch!
That (paired with the fact that Bailey, his beloved dog kept growing and became huge very rapidly and, like they do, dribbled everywhere) meant the D3 was getting ruined. With this in mind Brendan bought something that was going to be cheaper to fix and which he didn’t mind getting dirty – a completely standard Td5 110 Double Cab pick-up.
He never intended it to stay standard and the 110 has come a heck of a long way since he bought it. Not only is it in a better overall condition, he’s also spent a lot of time and money on getting it just the way he wants. As his daily driver it simply has to be right for him, no compromises.
Sometimes owners take for granted the freedom their Land Rovers provide but Brendan is really appreciative of what his Defender has facilitated. Even if it is just walking the dog, he loves getting away from it all. As often as he can he is out and about in the gorgeous Welsh countryside, of-tarmac and on, exploring all it has to offer, from the south where he lives all the way to the northern-most tip. He’s seriously and semi-commercially into his photography and the Defender appears regularly in his personal work, artfully posed in stunning locations. Although he loves the Defender when it works (which, fortunately, is most of the time), equally he hates it when it breaks. An engine rebuild including a new cylinder head was needed after the old head was found to be cracked – this coming only six weeks after he’d bought the 110. That was the lowest of the low points; he’s bounced back but the memory still stings.
When it comes to never-again moments there were a few. Changing the radius/trailing arms and bushes when they were coated in Buzzweld paint was a nightmare. ‘It is fantastic stuf but there is nothing worse than a Buzzwelded nut,’ he says. ‘Removing them was impossible, as it glued them solid. After swearing at them for several for hours, I finally used a disc cutter. But that’s why it’s good for protecting the chassis.’
Top tip: do the mechanical stuff before applying the coating. Oh, and give the horrible jobs to a garage; if you don’t enjoy doing it, let someone else have the pain!
When it comes to fixing Darla or adding parts he likes, Brendan can’t praise his nearby Newport firm Bearmach enough. Among other stuff he’s using their front bumper, light bar and accessories. He adds: ‘They’ve been looking after me for several years now as I’m such a regular customer with all the breakdowns. But seriously, it’s my one-stop shop and the only place I use for parts, both genuine and other brands.’
Another Brendan top tip: grease your Defender’s nipples and service it regularly. Preventative maintenance always makes sense, and it’ll keep a few quid in your pocket in the long run.
He also reckons that if you get a remap it’ll make the vehicle so much more practical and you’ll love it more – you’ll actually feel safer on a motorway by keeping up with traffic, even flying past it! But his most important tip of all? Send your wife flowers.
Darla is a Land Rover so it’ll probably never be finished and Brendan’s to-do list is a long one. He’d like to do the full treatment of Buzzweld Chassis In One (CIO), Wheel Arch Refinement Concentrate (WAR) and Rust Encapsulator, fit new second-row doors and install a VGS rear one-piece window.
Bailey hasn’t been forgotten either: he’s going to get a bespoke animal transport box, which will replace the rear seats. ‘This may make him a bit grumpy, though, as he thinks he’s a human,’ says Brendan.
Also considered are additional drawers for expeditions and a Redesign tyre rack that carries two spare tyres. Last, there’ll be a respray, perhaps in another colour, but the jury is out on this. There’s loads to go at, and we can’t wait to see how it changes. LRO Thanks to: Whiteclif Of-Road Driving Centre (whiteclif4x4.co.uk, 01594 834666) for the use of their fantastic site for the photos.
DEFENDER MAN OWNER: BRENDAN PRUDOM
Ex-Army tank man turned transport manager Brendan has a long Land Rover history. ‘My dad was always tinkering with cars and taught me how to drive very young,’ he says. ’From there my uncle introduced me to Land Rovers, taking me and my brother greenlaning. I would have been around 10 or 11. We used to sit on the roof and my brother would drive, and vice versa. Defenders suit what I want and need. My wife would prefer a Discovery or Range Rover, and my mates think I should get something “normal”, but I wouldn’t want anything else.’
Model: Defender 110 Double Cab
- Year: 2002
- Engine: Rebuilt 15p Td5 engine with Storm Tuning remap giving approx. 230bhp
- Transmission: R380 5-speed manual gearbox with Clutchfix heavy duty bespoke clutch, 1.2:1 ratio transfer box
‘Brendan never intended his 110 to be standard and it has now come a heck of a longway’
What’s it do? A lot, and not quietly. This Td5 pushes out a ferocious 230bhp at full wellie.
Quick... it more than keeps up with the traffic Brendan went to town on the engine. Under the bonnet the Td5 has been massaged for a heap more power and torque. A VGT (variable geometry turbocharger), aided by a modified manifold, forces in masses of air cooled by an Allisport intercooler. This, combined with more fuel, thanks to a Storm Tuning remap, helps to release around 230bhp. Burned gas is funnelled away by a custom de-cat stainless steel exhaust system built by Longlife Exhausts of Caerphilly. Brendan says: ‘I can be immature. No one expects a Defender to shift as quickly as this one goes, so it does turn heads and gets a reaction wherever I go.’ Fair enough. Actually, I think it would be rude to do all that work and not to use the power when it’s appropriate to do so.
So far as capable goes, Brendan has compromised between the need to use the Defender on the road on a daily basis and great of-road performance. His solution is to use a modest two-inch lift and he’s gone for a soft spring set-up, looking for articulation to get grip without resorting to lockers. SuperPro bushes stiffen things up a little and keep those heavy axles under control. Finally the humongous tyres make sure that every scrap of power from the massaged Td5 gets to the ground in the most efective way possible. From what I saw in the Whiteclif Quarry Brendan’s got it sorted, with a set-up that works really effectively both on and off-road.
Modifications and added extras
- Inlet and exhaust system: Custom de cat stainless steel exhaust system by Longlife Exhausts, Caerphilly. Allisport uprated manifold/large Intercooler, silicone hoses. VGT Turbo.
- Gearbox: Rebuilt by Ashcroft Transmissions. 1.2 ratio transfer box installed from Disco 2 Td5 for improved motorway cruising speeds.
- Suspension: Bearmach springs, Pro Comp shocks on a soft set-up for articulation. SuperPro bushes all round. Wildcat Automotive wide-angle propshafts. Adrenaline 4x4 radius/trailing arms/A-frame.
- Interior: Custom-made Exmoor Trim Elite heated bucket seats and cubby box (premium black leather and black stitch). Momo suede race steering wheel.
- Lighting and exterior extras: Bearmach front bumper, light bar and accessories. LED headlights, side, indicator and brake lights.
- Wheels and tyres: 33x12.50 R15 Cooper Discoverer STT Pros on imitation bead lockers (Mach 5 type) from 4x4 Tyres, set of six. Extended wheelarches. Custommade mud flaps, wide enough to stop spray due to over sized tyres.
- Storage and capacity: Spare tyre rack. Bespoke storage drawer unit by Animal Transfer Boxes.
- Other stuf: Buzzweld chassis protection.
The inside of this Defender is a nice place to be courtesy of custom-made Exmoor Trim Elite Sports heated bucket seats and a cubby box with premium black leather and black stitch. A present from Brendan to himself, these really perk up the interior, turning it from utilitarian to really quite luxurious.
Keeping the sun at bay during our photoshoot are the heavily tinted rear windows. A set of alloy gearknobs adds a restrained bit of bling. My favourite bit, the sublime Momo race- type steering wheel, lifts the inside still further. The rest is standard and it’s no worse for that. Why change what was right in the first place?
One of a pair, which provide secure, freely accessible storage for essential kit.
Single for now
Brendan bought six tyres and can carry both spares in the load area on a rack. Cranked rear radius arms keep axles in the correct orientation for the propshafts.
Softly does it
Suspension lift gives room for the 33-inch tyres, but still maintains ride comfort.
Snorkel may be necessary in winter. Today, it kept the inlet high above the dust cloud.
They are literally cool – 30 degrees in the quarry and the Defender was shady inside.
Cosmetic locks The bead locks are nonfunctional but do look trick.
Now you see it... Subtle black steering guard almost disappears visually but it’s there when you need it.
Tuff tyre stuff Extra wide mudflaps made to cover the huge tyres. Brendan says he has clean elbows now.
Fashion tip Not strictly necessary, but who could resist such a cool thing as a colour-tip exhaust?
Little details Clear lenses add contrast to the maroon paint on the rear of the 110. Another nice touch.
Big Cooper (33x12.5 R15) Discoverer STT PROs certainly fill the arches.
Momo is less Little steering wheel is a must for lanky beggars like me, and always looks great anyway.
Neat Elite seats A pair of Exmoor Trim’s Elite Sports seats provide comfort and support in equal measure.
A box for bits Centre cubby box is a lovely matching accessory... and no doubt contains dog treats.
Subdued bling Brendan was unable to resist the lure of alloy, but the glare is reasonably discreet.