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Rad Rig: Loaded Defender


Words & Images Andrew Middleton

A passion for all things outdoors, and an absolute obsession with detail, is what makes Johan de Villiers tick. And the Land Rover you see here is an expression of the owner’s style (and his love of the colour orange). With this Landy, every inch, every nut and bolt – right down to the heater controls – has been reworked to Johan’s taste.

His Defender 110 double cab might have started out as a blank canvas, but is now a rolling art form – and since SA4x4 arrived in the picture, is now painted with stinking mud.

Having been trained by the 1994 West German Camel Trophy team, Johan developed a preference for Land Rovers. “I have observed that owners tend to form an emotional bond with their Defenders. This isn’t something that happens with other vehicle brands,” he says. It’s also hard to dispute that a Landy’s rugged, no plastic, solid-axle build is as tough as they come; it’s perfect for African conditions.

As we’ve mentioned, this truck is all about the details, and everything was carefully planned. For instance, instead of putting a long-range tank under the driver’s seat as usual, it was located just behind the right-rear wheel, opposite a water tank on the other side.

A compressed air tank hanging out externally under the driver’s seat remains topped up to be used as a quick inflation tool for deflated tyres, and to operate the rear locker. By putting the fuel and water at the back and the small air tank in the middle, underbody clearance is greatly increased on the right side, improving the breakover angle in certain situations.

Rock sliders down the sills of the Landy fit an obvious purpose, and the orange hooks are recovery points if a sideways pull is needed. A second compressor is incorporated into the winch (a Warn PowerPlant 9500), while the rear bumper is winch-ready, too. For now, it will remain empty until the next trip.