Most people who buy Land Rovers are part of the "tea and crumpets" crowd, more interested in weekends spent at the country club than on the trail. That is a shame, really, since Rovers are extremely capable vehicles whose prowess has been demonstrated in events like the Camel Trophy and G4 Challenge. With the release of the LR3 last year, and prices for a used Land Rover Discovery becoming reasonable, we fully expect to see more of these rigs on the trails in the future.
No sooner had this thought passed through our minds then we met Scott McBirney at the Vegas Valley Four Wheelers' annual Hump-N-Bump event. Scott works as a tech turning wrenches at Land Rover Las Vegas, making him intimately familiar with these machines. But instead of being content with adding the typical roof rack and auxiliary lighting, Scott set out to build a Rover in a more American mold. Large tires, low gears, and gobs of suspension travel allow this '96 Discovery to tackle the trails, while upgraded drivetrain components and thoughtful engineering deliver Scott and his daily driver home in comfort.
Long radius arms and coil springs that are captured on both ends combine to provide a rela
The drivetrain consists of a stock 4.0L aluminum V-8 that produces 182 hp and 233 lb-ft of torque. The engine has 67,000 miles on it and is stock with the exception of a Flowmaster muffler that produces a throaty rumble at idle. Behind the V-8 sits the stock ZF four-speed automatic transmission that features a 2.48:1 First gear ratio. Things start getting interesting with the LT 230 transfer case, though this is also a stock drivetrain component. Land Rovers utilize an offset transfer case that provides a 1.22:1 ratio in high-range and a whopping 3.32:1 low-range.
With no need for aftermarket transfer-case gearing, Scott turned his attention to the axles. Both feature chromoly shafts from Great Basin Rovers, 4.11:1 gears, and disc brakes. The front differential houses an ARB Air Locker that can be manually disengaged for improved turning, while the rear Detroit Locker provides rock-solid traction at all times. Taking advantage of the resources available to him at the Rover dealership, Scott used air-suspension components sourced from a classic Range Rover to plumb the Air Locker. Long-travel CV driveshafts from Tom Wood's (in the front) and Great Basin Rovers (in the rear) connect the axles to the trick transfer case.
With the drivetrain capable of withstanding the harshest of trails, Scott turned his attention towards a suspension that could deliver him to such locations. Because the Disco is his daily driver, a significant amount of thought was put into selecting suspension pieces that are rugged and reliable, working as well on the road as off. RoverTym Engineering components are featured throughout the suspension, as they met all of Scott's demanding criteria. RoverTym radius arms, Panhard bar, and 3-inch coils are combined with custom 2-inch spacers in the front, while RoverTym 5-inch coils and trailing arms are used in the rear. Damping duties at both ends are handled by 12-inch-travel remote-reservoir Fox Racing Shox.
The rear of the Landy is much like the front, with an aluminum Rockware skidplate and stoc
The rear suspension consists of 5-inch RoverTym Engineering coils and radius arms combined
A stock Rover front axle resides behind the beefy Atlantic British skidplate. It has been
The suspension, combined with a 1-inch RoverTym aluminum body lift, clears 35-inch Goodyear MT/Rs mounted on Trailready bead-locked wheels. The thick, aluminum rings on the wheels really complement the overall look of the Rover and keep with the aluminum theme present in the motor, body, and skidplates. Speaking of skidplates, the steering components are protected from harm with a galvanized skidplate from Atlantic British, while the gas tank is shielded with 1/4-inch-thick aluminum protection from Rockware. Other armor was mainly sourced from RoverTym, including the rock sliders and both bumpers. The front bumper houses a Warn 9000ti winch and three (in British fashion) Rover-branded driving lights. Other exterior features include fender flares from a later-model Discovery II. Scott spent hours molding the flares to his Rover to make more room for the large tires, and the time spent is evident in the quality of the end product.
During the weekend we wheeled with Scott, his Rover performed flawlessly. He seemed to forget that he was wheeling a "wagon" and not a Jeep, because he went everywhere the Wranglers did. Attentive details-like the routing of the air line for the front ARB on top of the radius arm, and the false floor in the rear to store heavy items down low-ensured that the Disco did everything that was asked of it. We hope to see more Land Rovers turn up on the trails soon, and when they do, we know exactly where to send them for service work and dealer-installed parts.
The 12-inch-travel Fox Racing Shox combined with RoverTym Engineering lift springs and rad
Owner: Scott McBirney, Las Vegas, Nevada
Vehicle/Model: '96 Land Rover Discovery
Estimated Value: N/A
Type: Aluminum 4.0L OHV V-8
Max hp/torque (lb-ft): 182/223
Transmission: Stock ZF four-speed auto
Transfer case: Stock LT230
Front: RoverTym 3-inch coils, radius arms, 12-inch Fox Racing shocks
Rear: RoverTym 5-inch coils, trailing arms, 12-inch Fox Racing shocks
Front: Stock; chromoly shafts, ARB Air Locker
Rear: Stock; chromoly shafts, Detroit Locker
Wheels: 15x10 Trailready bead locks
Tires: 35x12.50R15 Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs