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Responsible Wheeling for AllComment: Thank you for the Feb. '07 4Word about being a responsible wheeler and using common sense while out on the trail. I am a member of Friends of the Rubicon, the BlueRibbon Coalition, and two other very involved 4x4 clubs, and I spend many hours working to keep up the Rubicon and other trails. It's good to see and read articles like this. Please keep it up. Thanks again.Jerry B. Sparkmanvia-email
A: Jerry, our pleasure. We're well aware of the importance of being responsible enthusiasts, and we're glad that we're not alone. With the help of people like you and the organizations that you mentioned, we'll have a much better chance of keeping our public lands open for public use. Thanks for doing your part, Jerry. We'll keep doing ours.
Rover ReaderQ: Many thanks for the outstanding article, "Rising Sun Rover," in the Nov. '06 4WD&SU. Before the rivet counters and Rover enthusiasts get after you, I was very impressed with the real-world buildup and application of good ol' American know-how on this truck. I have a similar truck ('71 Land Rover 109 LWB) that began life as an ambulance with the British military, and I've been considering similar modifications. I like the classic lines of my truck (the ambulance body has long since been removed in favor of the civilian version), but I'm not above some functional upgrades where it makes sense. The axles alone need serious attention, as the OEM Rover axles were still produced in 10-spline units for my model year. My wife grenaded an axle just powering up a paved hill in a small country town!
You won't find a tremendous amount of help out there with this type of conversion, as most folks feel that Land Rovers should be built up with Land Rover parts. I really don't understand this, as they aren't exactly rare vehicles in most parts of the world. I'm certain that the mods listed on this truck are extremely functional, and while parts are plentiful for Rovers thanks to the Internet, it would still be nice to drive down the road and hit the local parts shop instead of waiting for stuff to get shipped to you.
While I would have selected a slightly different variation of the same components, I would still be very interested in how the owner went about fabricating the motor and transmission mounts for this project. Was there substantial modification to be done on the bulkhead and firewall to get the tranny to fit? Is there any way that I can get more information on this project? Keep up the great work, and thanks!P. J. Ryanvia e-mail
A: P.J., Land Rover took a nearly 20-year break from exporting its most capable 4x4s to the U.S., and when the Defender 90 was finally offered in the early 1990s, it was so expensive that it seemed like only characters on the television show Beverly Hills, 90210 could afford to buy them. Even the used market for Land Rovers fetches quite a bit higher price tag than Jeep or Toyota 4x4s, so you can see that demand for these vehicles and the push for modified and performance parts isn't as large. That isn't to say that it's nonexistent, but as you pointed out, the local parts store vice is difficult to fulfill. Likely, that's what led the owner of the Rising Sun Rover to utilize Toyota parts in the conversion of his '57 Land Rover Series I. Vehicle owner Matt Stoffregen works at Inchworm Gear [(530) 677-8111, www.inchwormgear.com], which manufactures and sells a good deal of Toyota geartrain parts, so Matt's familiarity with Toyota parts was also a good reason to convert to their use. Similar axle widths are shared by the Toyota and Land Rover axles, so a swap isn't too difficult. Also, the Toyota transmissions aren't so large that they require a great deal of modification for installation.
To answer your more specific questions, you might try getting Matt on the phone at Inchworm, where the company can likely sell you the parts needed for the conversion. Good luck.