CC Outtake: An Anglo-American Land Rover Defender

Recently I posted about a curbside spotting of a Spanish Land Rover Santana, in short wheelbase form. Just a few weeks later I found another Defender, a rare (in the US) 110” wheelbase wagon. This one’s definitely a British Defender, but like the Santana, this, too had an eye-catching badge on the rear.

But what’s R2.8 mean? Could it be an Isuzu Duramax swap? It sounds like a good conversion for the original 4.0 gasoline V8, as the diesel Rover engines typically fitted to Defenders were never offered here in the US. But the “R” preceding the 2.8 should have been a clue. This is an official R-for-repower with a Cummins 2.8 crate motor.

Actually, the R supposedly stands for “refined”. It’s mostly made in China, with final assembly in the US. This configuration of the engine was launched by Cummins a few years ago as an emissions-legal (with caveats) near-turnkey kit for repowering older trucks. According to Cummins’ website, the Cummins R2.8 Turbo Diesel has demonstrated (in a representative vehicle with a manual transmission) through the testing procedures prescribed in 40 CFR Part 86, to meet EPA’s Tier 1 LDT2, LDT3, and LDT4 end of useful life emissions standards. The same vehicle also demonstrates Tier 0 LDT1/LDV end of useful life emissions standards. This means that the R2.8 generally is suitable for Model Year 1999 or earlier light duty trucks and Model Year 1993 or earlier passenger cars.

Of course, there are some additional details. The engine is not available in Texas or West Virginia, and it’s not California-certified. Still, for much of the US this is a great offering. The kit includes the engine, a complete front accessory drive (alternator, power steering pump, fan hub, serpentine belt), vacuum pump, fuel filter/water separator, oil filter, mass airflow sensor, Bosch fuel injection with wiring harnesses and control module; flywheel, and starter. Even a drive-by-wire throttle pedal and a CAN (controller area network) display module.

And here it is from the front. I’m not experienced with serpentine belts, but it looks complex to me.

Four cylinders, 2.8 liters, 161 horsepower and 310 lb·ft of torque (120 kW and 420 N·m). Slightly undersquare, it weighs 503 lb (228 kg). While the Cummins kit seems like a great start for a talented do-it-yourselfer, a Land Rover install is especially easy.

That’s because a company called QuickDraw offers a complete kit with the engine and a Tremec 4050 5-speed transmission, adapter for the stock Rover transfer case, and all necessary brackets, for USD $14,450 (oil not included). Given the price of used Defenders in the US now, that’s quite a good price, I think.

I spent a few minutes checking out this truck, but its owner didn’t appear, and I had to get going, so I didn’t get more information or hear it run—but I bet it’s a nice setup.