Mini-Feature: Tom Davies’ 1986 Land Rover Defender 110

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Cummins swaps – those two beautiful words didn’t always belong together, but once they started happening, it was like a tidal wave of awesomeness that we never want to end. Adding to the swell is Tom Davies, a service engineer at Wrekin Pneumatics all the way over in Telford, Shropshire, U.K.

You may remember our piece we did on an Irishman’s spin on a Cummins swap when he built the “RX-H8,” a Mazda RX-8 fitted with a 6BT. This time around, we’re looking at an Englishman and how he took a 1986 Land Rover Defender 110 and flipped it into something new… and torquey!

Back in the day, Tom's Defender was at work in the military. That was how the Rover got its name that it goes by on Facebook.

“I got into diesels from going to tractor pulling and being brought up around diggers,” said Tom. “I was 18 when I took a Massey Ferguson 298 tractor and fitted a Perkins 510 turbodiesel V8 into it.”

It took until 2006 for Tom to begin formulating the idea for working with a Land Rover. “My best friend Craig showed me a YouTube clip of a Cummins 6BT-powered Land Rover,” he said. “I thought, with my background, I could do it with a slight twist! So I got myself a 1995 Cummins engine with the VE pump, then struck lucky with the Land Rover from a coworker.”

Tom got the idea for this Land Rover after a friend showed him clips of another Cummins-swapped Land Rover on YouTube.

Tom got the idea for this Land Rover after a friend showed him clips of another Cummins-swapped Land Rover on YouTube. “I thought, with my background, I could do it with a slight twist!” said Tom.

That was back in 2008. Since then, the build has been one of perseverance; as Tom says, “I’ve always built what I could afford at the time, and try to make the most of what I have.” It hasn’t been easy on the guy, as we learned of one instance where the build hit a road bump.

The motor as it sits today, armed with an S475 turbo, Hamilton camshaft, ARP head studs and rod bolts, custom intake, and more.

The motor as it sits today, armed with an S475 turbo, Hamilton camshaft, ARP head studs and rod bolts, custom intake, and more.

“The hardest part of all of this is living in the U.K., and nobody does performance parts for them over here,” he said. “I ordered my Hamilton camshaft and waited weeks and weeks for it to come. When it finally did, I opened it up to find it had snapped in half! Sometimes, doing these sorts of projects, you find yourself taking one step forward and two steps back.”

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Tom hopes to install a 3.31:1 ring and pinion on the rear Dana 80, as possibly go with a 6.7-liter Cummins bottom end to pair with the 5.9-liter Cummins crankshaft. “It may be a bit much for the little Landy,” he joked.

Nevertheless, the man has overcome all the odds to build a sweet SUV with the dyno results to prove it. His current build is a 5.9-liter 6BT fitted with a ported and polished 24-valve head, a Hamilton camshaft, Steed-Speed exhaust manifold, ATI Super Damper, ARP head studs and connecting rod bolts, 150% injectors, and a BorgWarner S475 turbocharger, just to name a few parts.

Mods never stop, as we all know, and so it goes for the Land Rover, too. “The truck really needs a 3.31:1 ring and pinion for the Dana 80,” said Tom. “I think a 6.7-liter Cummins bottom end with a 5.9-liter Cummins crankshaft would be nice, but that may be a bit much for the little Landy!”

We wish Tom the best of luck improving his Defender. What do you think?

Does this make you want to go out and start your own swap project? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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