Judging a Land Rover Defender Restoration project exclusively by the beautifully finished photos is missing 99% of the process that goes into building a quality vehicle. We’re pretty transparent about how dirty, messy, and ugly the restoration process can be.

In this series, we will show you the behind-the-scenes process of taking a simple Land Rover Defender 90 V8 that came from the Isle of Jersey and preparing her for the next phase of life.

This is an example of one of the pre-restored vintage Land Rover to come into the Bishop+Rook UK Restoration Centre.  We found this lovely Land Rover 90 on the Isle of Jersey (officially the Bailiwick of Jersey), just 25km off the coast of France – the largest of the British Channel Islands.  The island is a mere 46.14 mi² – including a series of narrow green lanes – which is perfect for a little Landy like this.

We prefer to source non-restored and non-molested original vehicles – allowing us to be the first people to do any major mechanical or archeological digging.

Initial Assessment + Details:

We’ve only just started to go through the details of this Landy, but so far we love every bit of it.  Didn’t dress her up for the first photoshoot, because we rather enjoy watching the transformation.  Seeing the rusted side steps and loose door sills is part of the charm, right?

Land Rover Defender 90 - 3.5L V8

This is how we found this lovely Land Rover 90. A few dings and a lot of patina, but a perfect donor for a restoration project.

The grumble and power of the V8 are very rare, making them highly desirable.  The interior is a little bit tired, but could easily be cleaned up with a bit of effort.  We’re torn on the outside patina, as they’re only original like this once.  She would make a perfect restoration candidate, but could also live for many years as it is.

We go through all the major elements of the vehicle using a checklist of over 200 items and systems that we grade (checked, passed, failed, needs repair, needs replacement). Our plan so far is to do a complete mechanical service on Jersey – brakes, cooling system, engine tune, fuel system, electrical system, and chassis treatment.  Our baseline Defender service ensures that the vehicle is fit for modern roads and won’t leave you stranded. What we do with the restoration after that is entirely up to the new caretakers.

Disassembly Process

It takes a team of technicians over 40 hours just to disassemble a Defender donor vehicle.  Part of that process is cataloging all the parts and keeping things organized.  While new parts are readily available, some small brackets and pieces are hard to come by.  We take a preservation approach to a lot of our projects, where we can refurbish a lot of the elements that come off the donor vehicle, rather than simply replacing them with an aftermarket pattern part.

From Disassembly to Restoration

Once the project has been disassembled we go through all elements of the vehicle and categorize parts into: keep, replace, refurbish, and toss. We make our list and begin ordering all the parts necessary to re-assemble the vehicle to factory specifications.  Part of that process is restoring and refurbishing the chassis – which will be featured in the next installment of this behind-the-scenes series.

Project Jersey Chassis Restoration