Words and image by Peter Middleton
2008 Land Rover Defender HCPU
Boris’ was built for a planned South America trip, and, given the cold and wet climate in some regions, was created to satisfy my need to live ‘inside’ as opposed to ‘alongside,’ as we do here in SA. In cold, wet and windy conditions, a roof-top tent is a painful and even dangerous way to have your bedroom on a rocking Land Rover – especially for an old geezer like me. Furthermore, it compromises security when access to the driver’s seat is nullified in a confrontation with thieves.
I’ve had some bad experiences of these. Popup roofs are also noisy in the wind, insecure from theft or attack, impossible to heat safely, and terrible to pack wet. ‘Boris’ is absolutely unique and designed by me, using the experience and mistakes of many years, and many overland miles through Africa and North- and Central America. The base vehicle is a Land Rover Defender 110, HCPU (High Capacity Pick Up) 2.4 Tdci (Puma), built in 2008.
This is a commercial vehicle and not adorned with any frills − so it has windup windows, rubber mats, vinyl seats and no air-conditioner. Perfect. I prefer the 2.4 to the later 2.2, which is blessed with additional emission electronics. Though both motors are proving to be extremely reliable, anything electronic hates me – and the feeling is quite mutual, thanks. The camper area is bespoke to my own spec, but as I have the practical hands-on skills of an Emperor Penguin, I had to find a pro to build it. The thing is, no-one had ever done what I needed.