“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, when the original four door Bush Ranger body was fitted to the chassis and running gear from a 1979 Range Rover. In the second and third photographs, the old Range Rover axles have been replaced with units from a Toyota HZJ105R Series Landcruiser.
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; approximately 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.
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.
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.
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. The best seat covers I could find are made by Dingo Seat Covers.
I chose camouflage canvas for the seat covers to match what 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.