As featured in Land Rover Monthly magazine.
Still a little shabby looking but, beneath the dented panels, Esmerelda is a much safer and more comfortable lady than she was.
Although they’re much too polite to say, the chaps at RST Landrovers got a bit of a shock when they went to collect Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s 90 from River Cottage in Dorset. By his own admission, celebrity chef Hugh is not a great one for looking after his Land Rover and it was showing all the signs of an abused life down on the farm. Still a little shabby looking but, beneath the dented panels, Esmerelda is a much safer and more comfortable lady than she was. But, being the solid kind of guys they are, the RST mechanics set about putting things right on N67 ESM (I think I’m going to call it Esmerelda, because every Land Rover needs a name, which is something that Hugh doesn’t seem to appreciate yet). First on the list was to sort the brakes, which had been below par for a while according to Hugh.
New Britpart drilled and grooved discs were fitted to each hub with heavy duty brake pads inserted into each calliper. RST also re-piped much of Esmerelda’s braking system as and where needed – which was in quite a few places. With the vehicle now fitted with suitable stopping power, the team turned to the suspension. The tired old springs and shocks were replaced with standard height, but uprated capacity, yellow spings, also from the Britpart catalogue. Dampers, too, were replaced with Britpart’s Cellular Dynamic shocks which feature a cellular foam insert instead of normal nitrogen gas or air, to stop the oil from boiling. They are said to improve cornering ability but maintain ride comfort. Bushes were all replaced as well with yellow polyurethane items which, as we know by now, are a considerable improvement over original equipment bushes. A stainless steel exhaust system was added and the track rod ends replaced. A full service which included replacing wheel bearings and hub seals completed the work on the mechanical bits.
Prepped and ready
While all that was going on new door locks were fitted and splits in the doors were welded up. RST also fitted a Pioneer sound system that Hugh had supplied and carried out a general tidying up all round. Finally, to set it all off, they fitted a set of Discoverer ST all terrain tyres from Tyrespec – keeping the original Land Rover steel wheels – and a traditional Defender winch bumper with Britpart DB8500 electric winch to the front. With the Qt cage in place and Exmoor Trim’s hood wrapped around it, Esmerelda was off to have a vegetable oil conversion undertaken by DieselVeg – something Hugh was extremely excited about, thanks to the ‘green’ credentials of such a conversion. The final stage in the process of turning a rather ragged farm hack 90 into a family Land Rover was to be the fitting of a pair of Exmoor Trim’s ‘Lock and Fold’ forward facing rear seats. Hugh likes the dented, scruffy look of Esmerelda’s exterior, so it will be staying that way – but the general feeling is that a new chassis is a must before too long. But that, as they say, is a job for another day…