Bushie Ute

“Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“There are many roads to ancient Rome and everybody will have to find his own.”


This is the story of “Bushie Ute”, a Bush Ranger kit, purchased from John Davis, fitted to a diesel (3.9 litre Isuzu 4BD1T) Land Rover 120 (One Twenty) Ute, replacing the Land Rover body.

The following three photographs were from a previous incarnation. Then the Bush Ranger had the chassis and running gear from a 1979 Range Rover. In the second and third photographs, axles from a Toyota HZJ105R Series Landcruiser replaced the old Range Rover units .

Range Rover with Bush Ranger Body
Bush Ranger roll cage and body fitted to Range Rover chassis and axle assemblies


Bush Ranger with Landcruiser axles
Toyota Landcruiser HZJ105R series axles replacing Rover units, trial fit 100 litre fuel tank


Bush Ranger with 37 inch MTR tyres
Bush Ranger with Toyota Landcruiser axles and Goodyear 37″ MTR tyres


The purpose of the conversion to a ute is to make the bushie more versatile, with ample capacity to carry all the needs for extended trips to remote areas that are only accessible with a capable four-wheel drive vehicle. While not practical for that purpose in many peoples eyes, it should suit what I want to do well enough.

A 1987 Land Rover 120 Ute is the new donor for this ute conversion and a pair of axles from a Nissan Y61 (GU) Patrol have replaced the old axles from the Land Rover. The important reasons for choosing a Land Rover 120 donor were; 500 mm longer wheelbase, greater GVM, larger diameter tyres and the Isuzu 4BD1T diesel engine.

The conversion started by modifying the four door Bush Ranger body shell and support frame to suit the aluminium tray that was on the Land Rover Ute. The tray was shortened, to remove the rear overhang and narrowed to the width of the Bush Ranger frame, as shown in the following two photographs.

Start of bushie ute conversion
Bush Ranger body cut down to “ute” on Land Rover 120 chassis with Nissan Y61 axles – trial fit cut down tray from 120 ute



Bush Ranger Tray Back Taking Shape
Trial fit ute tray and driver’s seat on Land Rover 120 seat box

Following a conversation with Bush Ranger ATV, who recently acquired the Bush Ranger design and moulds from John Davis, a new plan for an “Extra Cab Ute” was hatched.

Bush Ranger ATV were very helpful, going above and beyond my expectations with supply and delivery of a pair of GRP (glassfibre reinforced plastic) composite mouldings to extend the sides of the existing body shell, from the ‘B’ pillar back to the rear wheel arch. The GRP mouldings were supplied with a generous excess at both ends for final trimming to suit. The rear  wheel arch section will only have the front part and that will finish at the height of the wheel arch. The rectangular hollow steel members that support the sides will be replaced with extended member, shaped like a ‘Z’ and finishing at the rear of the tub and rear crossmember.

Trial fit new body extension
Trial fit with tray lowered and new mouldings to extend body



Rear view of trial assembly
Rear view of trial fit with lowered tray and new mouldings to extend body


For the floor of the new ute tub, the original aluminium truck tray has been narrowed to 1700 mm, and runs from the rear of the front seat box to the rear cross member of the chassis, at the approximate height of the rear floor in a standard Land Rover.

To support the extruded aluminium planks from the original tray, a new sub-frame was added to the chassis following the design Land Rover used for what they designate XD (eXtra Duty), often called Land Rover “Wolf” chassis, after the project code name when they were developed for the MoD (UK Ministry of Defense). Land Rover replaced the normal bearing mounts on the chassis with a continuous sub-frame member (bearer) above both chassis rails to accommodate additional stiffeners under the rear floor.

The following photograph, taken from a Land Rover manual, shows the body bearers on a standard Land Rover Defender 130 chassis. The next five photographs of a Land Rover XD chassis show the continuous sub-frame members.

Fig 5 Load Bearing Points
Figure 5 from Land Rover manual showing standard load bearing points for custom bodies or trays



Land Rover XD chassis
Land Rover chassis sub frame for XD (eXtra Duty) to provide extra load bearing points



Land Rover XD sub frame detail
Close up view of Land Rover XD sub frame detail


Land Rover XD chassis
Another view on the Land Rover XD chassis sub frame


Land Rover XD sub frame detail
Close up of Land Rover XD sub frame detail


Land Rover XD sub frame
Another view of the Land Rover XD sub frame


The seats from the 120 donor were in poor condition and have been replaced by ARB Paratus “Pararally” seats (Paratus seats are now Paradrive), using the standard Land Rover slides. I suffer from back pain, but when I had these seats in another vehicle they were very comfortable when driving for 12 to 16 hours (plus rest breaks), with not the slightest back pain, pins and needles, or numb bottom syndrome. Although I have no intention of long days like that anymore, comfortable seats are high in importance for me.

Considering where and how the Bushie ute will be used, good quality canvas seat covers are a must. Dingo Seat Covers at Tolga on the Atherton Tableland make the best seat covers.

Camouflage canvas seat covers were chosen to match the canvas that will be used for the doors and canopy sides. The service, delivery, and quality from Dingo Seat Covers were excellent. They fit great, and are very comfortable. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to others.

Dingo seat covers
Dingo canvas seat covers on Pararally seats


Dingo Canvas Seat Covers on ARB Paratus Seats in Bush Ranger Ute
Dingo Canvas Seat Covers on Pararally Seats