We have just about come through what has been a pretty bad winter here in the UK, and whilst the rest of us were trying to keep warm hutched up round our fires, Shaun Saunter the owner of this lovely trayback Land Rover and his pal Paul Duffield spent the cold dark evenings and every weekend scrabbling about in the freezing cold on Paul's gravel drive building this challenge truck in six months. There's no doubt that both of them have all the skills between them to build a top end motor, as Paul works as a technician at Gigglepin 4x4 at Hildenborough in Kent before previously being at a Land Rover dealership, and Shaun is also a technician working on heavy trucks at a big egg transportation company also in Kent. The lads would come home from work at around 5;30pm have a quick meal, and then get out onto the drive and start on Shaun's project in the freezing cold. It must have been a bit of a shock to both of them especially if during the day they had been working in a nice warm heated workshop. Shaun told me “some nights Charlie it was freezing cold” and Paul added laughing “yes but it wasn't too bad mate was it at least we had a couple of woolly hats and some mittens to wear”?

Born To Do It

Shaun went on to tell me “I left school Charlie and went to work on a farm and from an early age I was surrounded by lots of plant, machinery, and Land Rovers, and when I was 17 I bought a Classic Range Rover. I used it as a road car but eventually I also got myself a Series 3, and I started using that for play days and driving it around the woods on the farm, and I also did a bit of green laning as well. I then got another Range Rover Classic and a TD5 Discovery and I joined up with the Discovery Owners Club and that's when I met up with Paul and my other friend JJ who works with Paul and Jim Marsden at Gigglepin 4x4. JJ has been a diamond and he has advised us on the best bits to buy and helped us as the build has progressed”. Meanwhile in 2008 Paul was competing in a 90 Station Wagon which he converted so that it ran on a 3.5 V8 through an auto box. He then converted it to a challenge truck and he stepped up from competing in RTV trials and pay and play days and he did the Manby 90 Degree Challenge and the Mike Woolfe annual charity event in  2008. Shaun at this time was wielding the spanners as a member of Paul's crew,  but by mid 2009 he decided to get a donor Land Rover and construct his own extreme challenge vehicle.

Enter The Shed

​Shaun captured a Land Rover 90 TD that was frankly in a bit of a state. It arrived back at his drive on a trailer one Saturday morning with an Ifor Williams truck back strapped onto it. It was a non runner and it had a blown rear axle as well. Paul and Shaun worked on it on Saturday afternoon and into the evening, and by the next day they had got is started and fitted another rear axle, and within 24 hours of it coming home, they were able to take it on a Sunday pay and play day. I did tell you that they were both first class Land Rover technicians, but to get this old shed ready within 24 hours to go play in it was a top job. Back on the driveway at Shaun's and 6 short months later after it was repainted in this nice ice blue finish, this cracking Land Rover is as you see it here now. The Sunday before the weekend that I saw it, Shaun with Paul as his winch man, competed in their first event together which was the second round of the Mission Extreme Challenge series. Although they had to retire at midday owing to an oil pipe failure and some issues with a faulty fuel lift pump, they finished 12th from a field of 20 entries which I would suggest was not too sad for a new truck with a new crew at its first event.

A Proper Job

My pal Simon Stephenson came on the shoot with me and it was easy for us both to spot that this manual 200 TDI driven Land Rover had been built by expert hands, and a lot of thought has gone into the build of this pretty little 90. The winch on the front is a Warn Gigglepin conversion  full spec GP83, with twin 12 volt motors running with 40º ratio gears and the Gigglepin air free spool, and it is mighty powerful and very very fast. It rides on Terrafirma shocks all round held in place by Gwyn Lewis long travel mounts and dislocation cones, and as the Land Rover is light, weighing in at a measly 19,000 kilograms, the springs are Bearmach blue standard height springs, which was the tallest and softest to do the job that Shaun could find. The wheels were the first thing Simon and me drooled over and they were supplied by LRS Off-Road and the Terrafirma bead locking rims are the only set of 5 at present fitted on any vehicle in the UK. The tyres were supplied by Silverline and they are their MT 117 Extremes size 35/11.50/16.  The steering arms are also from Bearmach their heavy duty brand. The frame, cage, wings and rear tray was supplied by Malcolm at Whitbread 4x4 from the aptly named Llandysul in Wales, and I was very impressed with the Whitbread workmanship and design. Paul told me “the cage can be easily removed as the wings can be disconnected from it and we can roll the whole thing back over backwards after disconnecting the wiring etc”.  The all stainless steel raised air intake goes neatly through the cab and terminates behind in the rear tray, and the dash is plain and simple with large signage so there can be no mistakes whilst winching on a challenge section. The winch in the back tray is a Warn 8274 with Gigglepin heavy duty internals with a twin motor housing with a 13º ratio gearing  increase. The rear axle has been changed in favour of a Range Rover Classic one with the disc brakes, and there is a Quaife torque biasing limited slip differential which runs in oversized carrier bearings and it is really tough the lads told me. The ARB air compressor neatly situated in between the seats is only required at present to operate the Gigglepin free air spool on the front winch, but Shaun is hoping to install ARB air lockers to go with it sometime soon and the wiring is already in place for it. Other future plans are for the purchase when funds allow for some under body protection, a tank guard and rock sliders, and they are going to add more bracing to the rear cage and the tray as Shaun  does not wish to use a third winch as so many of the guys that do these extreme challenges are now compete with three winches on board. Shaun told me that he must thank his wife Shelley for her patience and her constant help and understanding during the build of this real stormer of a Land Rover, and it was a pleasure to meet up with such a happy dedicated band of real Land Rover people.