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BFRieck

Which chassis to rebody

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At the risk of enraging the purists out there, I would like input on what running chassis I might rebody with my Series IIa sheet metal. I have a Series IIa with a rotted chassis and worn out motor. I got it for nothing and it has never run -I suspect it is well worn as various parts of the running gear show lots of wear. Anyway, the body is good and I like the LR Series look so I'm thinking of putting the body on a (much) later rolling chassis. Any ideas what would make a good donor? I'd like to retain the look so that means straight axles, at least. Any particular jeeps that would make good donors? What about some Toyota? Others?

BFR

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I think you should have a good think about what you are hoping to achieve - it could be another nail in the coffin of an old Land Rover.....

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I know an 88 running on a shortened early rangie chassis with a 90 rear crossmember, which works extremely well. It has the rangie axles, a tdi, lt77 and 1.4 lt230, and series 3 bodywork. it's certainly comfortable, and capable, but its not for me, my 88 is an every-day-er - or was 'til our accident - and has her original leaf sprung chassis. It depends what you are going to use the vehicle for.

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Old Hand's suggestion that I should think about the ramifications of nailing the coffin lid shut on an old LR is a point not lost on me. However, my thought is that my IIa is, at this point, little more than a parts car with some serious parts deficiencies (e.g., engine, suspension, chassis, who knows what else since it never ran in my custody). So, as an original LR, it's a goner. Could the sheet metal and maybe a few other parts enable the salvation of another Series LR? Possibly, but the sheet metal, being aluminum, is usually the last to go and therefore often the least needed. The other good parts will likely go to other Series LR's when I pass/sell them on. I have a cherry Series III 109 ex MoD FFR that I am maintaining all original (except for a fully reversible changeover to civilian ignition parts as a nod to economic reasonableness!) My IIa, on the other hand, would be a questionable/expensive starting place for a "pure" restoration and, once restored, would really just provide me with more of what I already have. So, to my mind, it's a good candidate for a fun project resulting in a more modern daily driver here in the wide open spaces of West Texas where the default speed limit is now 85 mph! Way better than a modern Jeep Wrangler, in terms of "coolness" at least.

So, what model year range constitutes an "early" RR for these purposes and why the 90 rear crossmember?

BFR

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Budget is $7,500 or less all in (with little or nothing for my labor and I'll do the work); Intended use - fun in the workshop during construction, and thereafter a Series look but smoother ride, more power, air conditioning, power steering, etc. Sounds like I'm after a RR that looks like a Series and that's about right.

Reckless Engineer sounds like he built what I'm after. Mine's an 88 so I'll have to shorten up the RR, I guess. How did the build go?

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IIRC my friend removed 17" from between the radius arm/trailing arm brackets, and then as required to get the 90 rear crossmember in the right place to match the bodywork. When he cut the chassis, he welded 3mm plates inside the rails, then butt welded the chassis, then welded 3mm plates down the outside....they later had to drill it for the gearbox mount bolts.......about 8/9mm thick each side of the chassis at that point! If its an 88, don't bother with the power steering, you don't need it. this 88 has a 15" wheel, and 7.50 bar-grip-type tyres and the steering is no effort, thats with a heavy old 200 under the bonnet. Richards will build you a chassis with a stage 1 front if you want to stay leaf sprung, which accepts a 90/110 steering box, had it done on my 109 chassis. The rangy axles were 10-spline, and were disk braked front and rear, but we recently converted to 24-spline disco diffs, and we had to fiddle around with disco hubs and stubs to get lengths right for the half shafts...all worked really well though. Its running a series servo and mc, and the brakes are not mega hard as some people will tell you there would be. The engine is a disco 200, running on a series rad with no expansion tank, coupled to a defender LT77 and a disco 1.4 LT230, but a custom rear prop which is only about 14" long, the front being extended by some 8" too.

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Thanks, all of that is really helpful. Now to find a suitable RR - damaged body, good rolling chassis. Seems like, stateside, it would be an '84 or later, no? Don't think the RR's went to monocoque until very recently, maybe even 2012.

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You want a Range Rover Classic, or Discovery 1 (same car, different body pretty much). Assuming you are in the USA (hint: fill in your profile!), anything with the green oval on it and either a 3.5 or 3.9 V8 in it should be a candidate. Beyond that, it's down to the drivetrain you want.

Using two front chassis is another option, used to be done on Bowlers / QT Racers and that sort of thing, gives you hockey sticks and panhard both ends.

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Fridgefreezer, your comment re using a front end at both ends is intriguing. I assume the front one faces forward; does the one used at the rear face rearward or forward - I assume it faces rearward so the propshaft will hookup; shouldn't matter to the differential, should it? Likewise, I assume the rear unit is fixed someway so it won't steer, no? Wonder how it would be set up as to toe-in, etc.?

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I believe it's a back axle used on the back, just the front suspension links that are used, facing backwards. I don't recall the reasons for it.

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Seeing as you are in the states probably the easiest way to keep a similar feel would be to stick the body on a after 72 CJ5 chassis :o might have to put extra 4 inches in thats if you have a 88 !

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Of course, it makes much more sense that the back axle would be used with the front suspension although I have seen a front axle used in the rear with the steering locked - don't recall exactly why, but it worked. Seems like maybe it was a front wheel drive unit used to drive the rear wheels in a sand buggy (wheelies came pretty easily with the motor back there).

I considered the Jeep option, but I'm not trying to retain the Series "feel"; actually, I'm trying to improve the comfort (and speed) factor and just keep the Series look - a Jeep wouldn't help in that regard - I prefer my stock III to just about any Jeep CJ product.

I looked around a bit and it seems "salvage title" RR's and Discovery's are pretty cheap and relatively common (i.e., < $1,500 for one with body only damage - seems those bodies are expensive to fix and therefore often totalled - one late model rollover I saw had a pre-collision value of +/- $25,000 with a repair estimate of $30,000 +). Mileage on those is almost always under 100,000 and often substantially under. Interestingly, I saw few pre-2000 model year offerings and those were very late 90's.

Assuming I wind up with a post 2000 model year, how much "brain damage" is involved in sorting out the wiring and electronics - is it reasonably possible to retain only such amount of the wiring and electronics as is needed to run the drive train and wire up the body independently, just tapping the donor harness for power? I guess engine gauges and the speedometer would be problematic, but GPS driven speedo's are readily available (for boats, anyway).

Any thoughts?

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I just thought of something: Isn't the Range Rover's track somewhat wider (+/- 4" or so) than the Series? How is that handled to keep the tires from hanging out beyond the front wings and the body at the rear, dished wheels could do it I suppose but where would one get some of those?

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They are slightly wider yes. My friends 88 has spats fitted which cover the tyres so its legal on that front. We also discovered that when we did the swapping with the disco bits on the rangy axles, the track got a little narrower still, to the point where we wonder now whether we still need the spats. The rims are the rockstyles (?) that were fitted to the rangy chassis.

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Makes sense, it also occurred to me that the track is, I assume, measured at the centerline of the tires. I'm sure RR's had wider tires fitted as stock than did Series trucks; accordingly, using narrower tires in keeping with the Series "look" would help some (compromising, to some extent, high speed stability, maneuverability, etc.). Note that when I say "high speed", I mean by comparison to the 60 mph top speed of my Series III, not in absolute terms. You haven't mentioned the added width of the RR causing any particular problems with fitting the Series body so I assume the RR chassis can be modified to accommodate mounting the Series body without too much effort. Is that correct?

What about the size of the engine bay? Is there enough length between the Series firewall and grill to fit the RR engine, radiator, etc.? What about width between the wings?

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Are you entirely sure you wouldn't be better off just dropping a new powertrain into your Series and patching the chassis up? Just playing devil's advocate here really. Dropping a V8 into a Series is a well proven route to a big grin.

A 2000 Range Rover is going to be a P38a and not ideal for what you want, if memory serves they have a different shape chassis plus a ton of electrics, you want 1st generation really. Anything's possible, just that a P38 rebody could be more involved and throw a few curve balls your way. The earlier ones used parts which were pretty much common to the whole range, whereas the P38 and D2 got different steering boxes for example. On the plus side, P38's I believe are 108" chassis, so only an inch off perfection ;) however it might prove a bit much to squeeze into an 88 without discarding (and hence having to replace) a hell of a lot of the car. The engine & transmission is a very long assembly in RR & Disco, not so bad in a 109 but tight in an 88 if you want a sensible rear prop without mounting the engine forward of the headlights.

Whatever you do, the track is wider and trying to fix it with wheels will probably just look silly. Stick some Defender or similar spats on the arches and call it done, don't buy the "proper" Series ones as they look rubbish.

The Series/RRC widfth difference is in track only, the chassis rails remain the same distance apart. The engine bay isn't a big issue, the transmission length and position will be the sticking point.

Here's mine using what's basically a Range Rover V8 powertrain (4.6 V8, R380 manual box + LT230 transfer) plus power steering, retaining the Series front end. Being a 109 you can keep the drivetrain set back a bit:

engine_bay.jpg

And here's some extended arches, my track is wider still than a RR:

Eddie_2012.jpg

Here's SteveB's take on the track width issue, you may have to look twice:

SteveB109.jpg

(Hint: Count the windscreen wipers. I love this truck!)

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What a great response, with pix, no less! Much good information as well. Looks like I need to find a '96 model year or earlier to get a first generation RR. Your comments about trying to do all this with an 88" Series body is going to be harder than doing it with a 109 are also well taken it appears. But, I have a good running 109 and a bad 88 so the rebody must be the 88.

Is the bulkhead/firewall to headlights/grill distance greater on a 109 than an 88? It doesn't appear so, but I haven't measured it. If not, am I correct in assuming your comments are related to the benefits of a longer vs shorter propshaft? Likewise, will the gearshift and transfer case levers wind up significantly farther back when I put the Series body on the RR or must that be controlled by locating the Series body sufficiently far forward to make the gear shift/transfer case levers wind up where they are supposed to be?

I considered re-powering a standard Series chassis/body combination with RR components including V8, manual tranny, and transfer case but was dissuaded because the chassis is shot (probably beyond repair - cheaper and better to buy a galvanized replacement), and, for example, the spring shackles are so far gone as to show visible wear - I can't imagine the rest of the running gear is not in need of a total redo if not replacement. Fact is, I really don't have much more than the body. Just need to find a '96 or earlier rollover or some other body damaged RR with a good rolling chassis (mileage gets to be an issue at some point - '96's are now 15+ years old). What sort of life do the rolling chassis components have?

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Makes sense, it also occurred to me that the track is, I assume, measured at the centerline of the tires. I'm sure RR's had wider tires fitted as stock than did Series trucks; accordingly, using narrower tires in keeping with the Series "look" would help some (compromising, to some extent, high speed stability, maneuverability, etc.). Note that when I say "high speed", I mean by comparison to the 60 mph top speed of my Series III, not in absolute terms. You haven't mentioned the added width of the RR causing any particular problems with fitting the Series body so I assume the RR chassis can be modified to accommodate mounting the Series body without too much effort. Is that correct?

What about the size of the engine bay? Is there enough length between the Series firewall and grill to fit the RR engine, radiator, etc.? What about width between the wings?

No, bulkhead to front is the same on 88/109, and even 90/110/127/130 wings are all the same length. There is no problem with fitting a RR powerplant into an 88, but you must use the defender version of the LT77 as it has a shorter bellhousing, unless you want to move the engine forward in the engine bay, which may end up with you having a 90/110 front instead of a series - not necessarily but possibly.

The chassis rails are exactly the same as FF said, there is no problem there, the first step is to weld on bulkhead out riggers (90/110 or Series, both the same), then shorten the middle of the chassis, then chop the back off and fit a 90/110 rear crossmember, then send it all for galvanizing!

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Is the bulkhead/firewall to headlights/grill distance greater on a 109 than an 88? It doesn't appear so, but I haven't measured it. If not, am I correct in assuming your comments are related to the benefits of a longer vs shorter propshaft? Likewise, will the gearshift and transfer case levers wind up significantly farther back when I put the Series body on the RR or must that be controlled by locating the Series body sufficiently far forward to make the gear shift/transfer case levers wind up where they are supposed to be?

I considered re-powering a standard Series chassis/body combination with RR components including V8, manual tranny, and transfer case but was dissuaded because the chassis is shot (probably beyond repair - cheaper and better to buy a galvanized replacement), and, for example, the spring shackles are so far gone as to show visible wear - I can't imagine the rest of the running gear is not in need of a total redo if not replacement. Fact is, I really don't have much more than the body. Just need to find a '96 or earlier rollover or some other body damaged RR with a good rolling chassis (mileage gets to be an issue at some point - '96's are now 15+ years old). What sort of life do the rolling chassis components have?

Did half a job this morning...answered only half the questions.....

The length of a 109 does help with rear prop lengths, as i said, my friends 88 rear prop is only about 14" long. Thats ok, its a special, as long as you don't want to do extreme off roading. we go regular greenlaning, and we some offroading too, but certainly not as extreme as FF does with his 109. Its certainly more flexible than my 88 on paras.

You can't move the body around too much to alter the position of the sticks, otherwise wheels will foul on wheelarches. Like I said, if you don't move the engine, use a defender 'box to shorten the overall powertrain length.

As far as the rolling chassis component life, pretty much infinite! I've never seen a rotted out axle tube, diffs and hubs get new bearings and seal, halfshafts get replaced, springs eventually get saggy, what do you acctually want to know?

Is it going to be easier to go to Richards and ask for a coil sprung 88" galv chassis, than try and find an old rangy and modify? I get the impression you're the other side of the pond so I don't know what difference it makes.

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Putting a V8 in an 88 , it is possible to set the engine further forward and retain the series look by removing the trunking panels from the rear of the front grill and setting the radiator up on top of the front crossmember this gives you a longer rear propshaft , it also saves having to hack so much out of the bulkhead footwells for engine access when its fitted . Fitting the efi engine is pretty simple about 10 wires involved IIRC re speedo you can get a pulse generator (as used in early RRC) to supply signal to ecu and stay with cable drive speedo .

What axles are being used on the green 109 as they are FC rims and should be wide on a defender let alone a 109 ?

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My question as to rolling chassis life was not specific enough. Sorry. What I was thinking about mostly was the engine, tranny, and transfer case - I'm guessing the latter two are pretty long lived. What about first generation (1996 and prior, no?) RRC V-8's - will they go 200,000 or more? I'm thinking of buying a so-called "salvage title" wreck with mainly body damage (e.g. a rollover, vandalism, theft recovery - stuff that gets the truck totalled but leaves the rolling chassis largely undamaged) which should get me just about everything I need on which to fit the Series body. Sometimes those can be started at the lot which will help the evaluation, of course. But often they can't.

More than once I have here seen a reference to the "green bible". I assume that's a manual - what's the formal name and where do I get one?

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