Restoration Process

Some Land Rover Defenders on today’s roads are hot-rodded to hell and back, others are simply period-correct restorations to back to the original glory. You might consider some of them too much and over the top or not enough and slightly uninspiring – everyone has different opinions. When you peel away all the romanticism and legendary pedestal-earning stories, the average Land Rover Defender is just a primitive farm vehicle with doors, a roof and a heater (which probably works, sometimes). To get a Defender to a tolerable daily-driver status, you have to upgrade it, give it better suspension and breaks, install a powerful engine, sound proof it, swap out the electronics and wiring, upgrade the interior, replace all the seals and clear out all the rust… And the list goes on… With that said, a stock Defender is more like a blank canvas, ready to become the car you want it to be.

In the world of automotive restoration, a body-off restoration is about as far as customization can be taken. It is taking an older and much loved donor vehicle and checking, restoring and replacing each and every component that can wear and fade over time. It takes considerable experience to provide this level of service to our customers.

Restoration Process

Building a custom Defender takes time and unmatched attention to detail. Each restoration project or a custom build starts with getting to know and understanding the customer, with close attention to their unique needs and requirements.

Xerbera’s policy is to employ only the highest quality parts and labor in each restoration. We use factory-original parts whenever possible, but since some of these cars are over forty years old, not all parts are readily available from Land Rover. In these cases, we will use the highest quality reproduction parts available to ensure a long lasting Defender you’ve always wanted.

For high-end builds, the process is quite similar to the restoration. Every single new Defender build will receive a brand new skeleton – galvanized chassis and bulkhead. Rather than reconditioning and re-using old panels, the new Defender will be wearing all brand new body panels and Puma steel doors.

We start with an original, legally imported Defender donor vehicle and strip it down the chassis. Each donor is disassembled down to the smallest possible part and then thoroughly inspected.

Everything we remove that is to be restored is kept separate and distinct from each and every vehicle we could be working on. Any parts that cannot be restored will be replaced with factory-ordered parts or their modern equivalent. Every bolt and nut, panel and piece is replaced or refurbished, refined and upgraded to our customers’ specifications. We will also offer advice on weak points in the original design that has a modern solution to rectify these issues.

The axles are fully rebuilt using Ashcroft inners, each and every donor vehicle will be rescued with an upgraded fueling system with braided steel lines, upgraded transfer case and upgraded performance disc brakes all around.

We fully disassemble and rebuild the transfer box and differentials. The input shafts, center differentials and all bearings, gaskets and seals are replaced. We also offer advice on upgraded components such as limited slips and fully lockable upgrades depending on how you will be using your vehicle in the future.

We will also clean and paint the casings to give them a original factory look and feel. We overhaul the front and rear suspension and install a complete new and customized suspension system tailored to your needs, replacing all mountings, bearings, bushings, springs and shocks.

The braking system will generally be upgraded from the (most likely) rear drum brakes to modern discs with all new calipers, lines, and pads installed. We also offer upgraded packages from Wilwood featuring 6 piston braking up front and 4 rear using 14 inch discs.

We specialize in Right Hand Drive (RHD) to Left Hand Drive (LHD) conversions of Land Rover Defenders imported from the UK. It takes years of experience and expertise to do it the proper way – and we’ve got both! Additionally, we are specialists in hard top to soft top conversions. We can convert your hard top Defender to a soft top using all factory or top quality aftermarket parts – this includes installing a new hoop set, canvas top and replacing the rear door with a tailgate.

The sky’s the limit. Our full frame off restoration process allows for the customization of every detail. A blend of precision engineering and hand detailing allows for each build project to be unique and exact to customer specifications.

Custom Parts Design & Fabrication

Nearly all Defender projects require custom parts engineering, design and fabrication. Whether it be mechanical or cosmetic components; such as custom exhausts, brackets, steering guards, wheel spacers, manifolds, intercoolers, radiators, engine mounts or transmission to LT230 transfer case adapter plates – we’ve got the skills and experience to have them fabricated.

Our team of experienced engineers & designers specialize in development and innovation, ensuring that the end product has the best chance at succeeding. Our expertise allows us to work effectively in stainless steel and aluminum.

Our rigorous mechanical engineering & development know-how makes these components:

Elegant – We always try to create a simple & functional design.

Functional – Be confident that it works as intended.

Inexpensive – Under budgetary constraints of the build projects, we try to find cost effective solutions.

Executable – We go straight from CAD drawings to tooling.

Top Quality – We test each and every component to make sure it’s flawless.

 

At Xerbera Automotive, we don’t like to cut corners – we always put quality and functionality first! Put your trust in Xerbera and rest assure we’ll deliver the best quality built Defender you can imagine.

Soundproofing & Thermal Insulation Options

When it comes to making your Defender ride like a modern luxury vehicle, Dynamat does the job. Dynamat makes cars feel solid – doors and tailgate slam snug, rain and wind virtually disappear and your interior becomes a quiet and a comfortable cruising environment. In addition, Dynamat on the interior sheet metal of your Defender will stop vibration and greatly reduce road noise.

As the pioneers of sound dampening – Dynamat is recognized by consumers around the world as a quality product for solutions to unwanted noise and vibration. The Dynamat brand maintains the dominant market share in automotive restoration acoustic solutions. Heavily marketed and endorsed by industry legends, Dynamat remains the only brand asked for by name.

We offer full or partial soundproofing treatments to all Defender models.

  • Dynamat Xtreme throughout to deaden vibrations and tinniness
  • Dynaliner to prevent temperature gain around the gearbox tunnel and floor
  • Hoodliner to the bonnet area to reflect engine noise and heat away from the vehicle
MEMBRANE THERMAL INSULATOR AND SOUND DAMPENING MATERIAL
 
MEMBRANE IS UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT
Membrane focus is on thermal protection with added sound deadening properties. Basically insulating the entire interior of vehicles.
 
Its essential for your Defender to be properly insulated for air conditioning system to operate efficiently, this is why we trust Membrane thermal insulation material which was designed by a reputable manufacturer of air conditioning systems to handle the issue.
 
Membrane is the only material that insulates and sound dampens in one single application sheet. This is just not an-add-on “liner” to place in the body of your Defender to muffle noise or rattle. Membrane is a true fortification between your Defender cabin and the outside world.
 
Membrane, by Restomod Air is the only thermal insulation with sound dampening material in one sheet.
 
Most custom car builders were using a standard “sound deadening” material in their builds, and were unaware that it did not provide adequate temperature adjustments from the outside elements. Membrane four-layer material that prevents your vehicle from being robbed of the climate temperature you have set in the cabin of the vehicle while giving you sound dampening properties at the same time.
 
FOUR LAYERS OF PROTECTION
Membrane’s four-layer material is like nothing else found on the market. Layer one is foil for durability, layer two is a closed cell insulation foam rubber for thermal protection, layer three is another foil layer for structural integrity, and layer four is the butyl layer for sound dampening.
 
Membrane conforms to all the curves and angles your vehicle offers, without having an odor or being messy like drip materials.
Acoustic Insulation Diamond or Chequer Plate Floor Mats
 
This 3mm (1/8″) thick rubber floor mat product is made from super durable Styrene butadiene rubber and designed with acoustic padding to greatly reduce road noise and vibration. Great acoustic flooring option for load area in your Defender 90 or 110. 
 
When these rubber floor mats are in place, they absorb the shock and pressure of heavy loads. They take the full force while preventing the surface beneath them from feeling it. When you use these rubber floor mats, you will enjoy the benefit of having easy-to-clean flooring in your Defender. This rubber matting features an excellent degree of moisture resistance. It will prevent nasty mold and mildew from forming on the mat. That is a very useful quality because it will allow you to easily clean the rubber mat with water and common soap without having to worry about any damage.
 
Available in Black color and either Diamond Plate or Chequer Plate design patterns.
 
Key Features:
  • Reduces road noise and vibration
  • 3mm (1/8″) thick rubber surface
  • Strong and durable
  • Easy to fit
  • Easy to clean
  • Insulating
  • Water repellent
LizardSkin Spray-on Insulation
LizardSkin coatings are a fast, easy way to reduce the amount of heat and noise that enters the interior of your vehicle. Since LizardSkin came on the market, thousands of auto enthusiasts around the world have applied the coatings and enjoyed cooler, quieter rides. Mascoat, the leader in insulating coatings, manufactures LizardSkin coatings. The company’s experience in the industrial, marine and commercial fields have paved the way for LizardSkin’s unique ability to keep out heat and noise in a thin, coating format. LizardSkin’s ability to be sprayed on allows us to effectively insulate any type of vehicle without the tediousness and waste associated with mat-style products. 
 
LizardSkin Spray-on Insulation vs. Mat Products
Never cut and paste mat products again! With LizardSkin Ceramic Insulation, Sound Controland TopCoat, there are NO GAPS, NO SEAMS, NO SCISSORS AND NO SWEAT! LizardSkin’s easy-to-apply, spray-on application is environmentally safe and can be cleaned with soap and water. It can also be sanded and painted to your desired body color. Traditional mat products are known for being more labor-intensive and costly than spray-on insulation. A typical mat product installation can take 35+ hours, whereas spray-on insulation requires only 8 hours. LizardSkin coatings saved us over $1,200 in material and labor costs. With LizardSkin, there is no need to measure and cut insulation precisely to size, and there is no risk of injury.
 

LizardSkin Sound Control (SC) is a high-tech coating that stops the vibration of sound waves coming from a surface before they enter the air. LizardSkin Sound Control can be used with LizardSkin Ceramic Insulation; when used together, LizardSkin Sound Control must be applied first. Typical applications include firewalls, floor pans, transmission tunnels, doors, hoods, trunk lids, under headliners, inside fenders, panel van walls, and other areas that generate vibration and noise. For maximum acoustic performance, we coat the entire interior surface and the floor, inside and out. LizardSkin is completely water soluble, meaning it offers an easy cleanup with just soap and water. Each 2-gallon container can cover 40-45 square feet at 0.040” (40 mils) thickness.

  • Dampen annoying rattles, vibrations and road noise
  • Protects surface from starring and rust
  • Quick and easy spray-on application
  • Fast clean up with soap and water
  • Environmentally friendly solution
  • Enhance your stereo’s sound and performance
  • Non-toxic, Class A Fire-rated
  • Impressive damping to weight ratio
  • Continuous protective moisture barrier
  • Sound Control is only available in black.

LizardSkin Ceramic Insulation (CI) coating is a premium spray-on thermal insulation product for all car types. LizardSkin CI is an advanced spray-applied coating that consists of a water-based composition of high-grade acrylic binders with ceramic insulation particles to create a thermal barrier. With LizardSkin’s spray-on ceramic thermal auto insulation, heat entering the interior is reduced by 30°F or more, making for a cooler, more comfortable ride. For maximum thermal performance in your ride, we encapsulate the entire interior and all appropriate exterior surfaces. Each 2-gallon container can cover 45-50 square feet at 0.040” (40 mils) thickness.

  • Provides non-combustible thermal insulation
  • Eliminates cut and paste waste
  • Able to withstand temperatures up to 500°F (260°C)
  • Continuous protective moisture barrier
  • One-part coating system
  • Lightweight (around 0.1 lbs/ft2)
  • Easy spray-on application
  • Can be easily applied to irregular surfaces and geometries
  • Fast clean up with soap and water
  • Ceramic Insulation is available in black and white.

NOTE: When applying both LizardSkin Sound Control and Ceramic Insulation to the same substrate, Sound Control MUST BE APPLIED AT LEAST 24-36 HOURS PRIOR to Ceramic Insulation for optimal product performance.

LizardSkin TopCoat is an easy-to-use, spray-on coating designed to enhance the durability and appearance of LizardSkin Sound Control or Ceramic Insulation coatings. It does NOT offer any insulation value, but instead provides a textured, non-skid, and glossy finish to improve the aesthetics of your LizardSkin project. The product is currently only available in black and comes in 15 oz. aerosol cans, each capable of about 12 square feet of coverage.

  • Durable and abrasion resistant
  • Textured, non-skid finish
  • Glossy, black appearance

Rust and Corrosion Prevention

POR-15 – Rust Preventive System

The ultimate rust preventive system for permanent corrosion protection. Shields metal in just 3 easy steps, clean it, prep it, and coat it.

The POR-15 3-Step Stop Rust System is designed to stop rust on metal surfaces and ensures the best results when applying POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating.

The clear-cut process allows for the proper cleaning, prepping, and coating of metal to create a non-porous surface that seals and protects metal from water, chemicals, and salt, and other corrosive contaminants.

POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating is a high performance coating designed to paint directly on prepped rusted or seasoned metal surfaces to stop rust permanently. POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating is non-porous and seals and protects many surfaces from water, chemicals, salt, and other corrosive contaminants and is able to be painted over rust.

POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating is an effective anti-corrosive and rust preventive coating that offers superior chemical resistance due to its dense, cross-linked molecular composition and non-porous attributes.

The secret lies in POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating’s curing process.

Most paints dry through evaporation, but POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating dries faster when moisture is present. It has the opposite chemistry of ordinary paints.

Now add to that POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating incredible hardness, toughness, and flexibility and you have a coating that is practically indestructible.

POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating is a permanent rust repair great for auto frame and chassis restoration, protecting valuable equipment against rust and corrosion.  You’ll be amazed at the toughness!

Waxoyl – Wax and Oil based rustproofing

Land Rover Defenders, with their mix of aluminum and steel body panels, are prone to corrode on salt covered American roads in winters. Many of these trucks show signs of rust when only 2-3 years old. The newer Range Rover and Land Rover models are less corrosion prone because they are more effectively rust proofed at the factory, but even these newer models are prone to rust and corrode when driven in high-salt areas like Vermont, or when taken off-road and submerged in water.

In fact, off-roading presents a particular corrosion problem for Defender owners. When vehicles are driven on wet roads the water sprays onto a clean undercarriage and dries fairly fast. Furthermore, the water is limited to whatever sprays up from the tires. But when off-roading the vehicle may be immersed in water, filling many bare metal cavities that are always dry in on-road use. Additionally, the underside gets packed with mud that can trap and hold water for days or even weeks. In some cases the mud packs into an area and never dries as it gets wet by tire spray and holds water essentially indefinitely.

Nearly all of our Defenders are built with new galvanized chassis and powder coated. This, in itself is a great solution for rust and corrosion prevention. For customers looking for even higher levels of rust and corrosion protection, we highly recommend Waxoyl rustproofing. This is why its so important for us to understand how and where you plan to use your Defender, so we can recommend the best rustproofing option for your vehicle.

 

Learn More About Rust and Corrosion Prevention

We’ve spent considerable time looking into the products available to prevent Defenders from rotting away. When we treat new vehicles, or newly restored vehicles, we do advise painting all bare metal with POR15 before Waxoyl.

We also advise POR15 pre-coating when large metal areas are scaled of rust on older trucks. Wax and oil based rustproofing – this product is a mix of paraffin wax and petroleum oils. The oil stops the rust and corrosion, and the wax keeps the oil from washing off. Many companies have produced wax and oil rustproofing formulations over the years.

POR-15 Rust Preventive System
The ultimate rust preventive system for permanent corrosion protection. Shields metal in just 3 easy steps, clean it, prep it, and coat it. The POR-15 3-Step Stop Rust System is designed to stop rust on metal surfaces and ensures the best results when applying POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating. The clear-cut process allows for the proper cleaning, prepping, and coating of metal to create a non-porous surface that seals and protects metal from water, chemicals, and salt, and other corrosive contaminants.
 

We’ve concluded the wax and oil based products are be best for Defenders. They are safe to handle, easily applied, and they do a good job of protecting the entire vehicle. They are equally effective on steel or aluminum. They are easily touched up if scraped or worn, and they won’t trap water when they get old. They can actually be applied to a wet vehicle and they will displace the water to bond to the metal!

In fact, Texaco developed a wax and oil based rustproofing product to corrosion proof the holds in cargo ships. The material was poured into a flooded cargo hold, and then the ship’s pumps were used to pump the hold dry. As the water receded the rustproofing material would stick to the sides of the hold and finally it would cover the bottom. It was said to be quite effective, and it was used until the environmental laws changed and ships could no longer flush their holds with seawater.

A product that worked in a saltwater environment like a ship’s hold sounded like just the thing for a Defender in salty winter water or summer mud. When we investigated wax based rust proofing products for Defenders the name that kept coming up was Waxoyl.

Many people in the UK and Europe praised the product, but it was not available until recently in the US because of EPA restrictions on its shipment. Waxoyl is made in Switzerland. Waxoyl is recognized as the premier product to prevent rust and corrosion of new Land Rovers. There is no better protection for a vehicle that will be immersed in water or run on salt covered winter highways. Waxoyl is also very effective at halting the progress of rust on older vehicles. Waxoyl offers their product in bulk for professional installation and in spray cans for hobbyist use.

Interested in a Custom Defender?

Xerbera Automotive is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way connected with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), or any of its subsidiaries, affiliates or dealerships. DEFENDER is a registered trademark of JLR. All DEFENDER vehicle images on this website are for illustratiive, public display and decoration purposes only to convey the concept and vision for the DEFENDER builds with no intent to reproduce or recreate these images.

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