‘Melvin’ is the alias given to our trusted work horse, a Land Rover Defender 110 CSW.

What’s known of Melvin’s life thus far:

2003 – Born as a Defender 110 CSW

2004 – Enjoys life from the sunny roads of Southern Europe

2015 – Retires and returns to the UK, in considerably good health due to the dry weather and lack of salt on the European roads.

2016 – Meets Ben, his new owner and accepts the challenge of driving from Alexandria to Cape Town, however not without some overland preparation!

Photos from our first encounter.

Overland preparation for Melvin:

Engine – After hours, if not days, of exploring overlanding blogs, I decided to that a 300tdi engine was the engine for me due to their simplicity, reliability and most importantly repairability. As some of you may have realised, Melvin had a Td5 engine, however soon after purchasing him, we stripped out Melvin’s TD5 engine, and replaced it with a low milage 300tdi from a 1998 Discovery.

The engine was reconditioned with a new clutch, gasket, timing belt, and water pump etc to prepare it for overland travel. All the work was carried out by Nick Lovett, and I could not recommend him enough. If anyone wishes to contact him, do message me and I shall put you in contact.

External roll cage – The decision to put a ‘safety devices’ external roll cage on Melvin was an easy one due to the ease with which a Defender can be rolled, particularly on rough terrain in Africa. The device was expertly fitted by Nick, Sam and Jack.


Suspension – Heavy duty shocks were fitted on all four corners while twin shocks were fitted to the rear, to ease the strain caused by the endless miles of corrugated roads.

Rock sliders – Picked up at the ‘Billing Show’, they certainly look the part and offer a great perch from which to access items on the roof rack.

Tyres – BF Goodrich all terrain 235/85/R16. Spare tyre on a heavy duty bonnet and rear swing away. They have been fitted to heavy duty tubeless wolf rims.

Roof Rack – Despite the cost, I chose to fit a 2.4m roof rack from Paul at Patriot (http://www.patriotroofracks.co.uk). His team was able to custom design and fabricate the mounts to fit on to the roll cage. The end result is a fantastic example of exceptional British engineering. I also had a rear access ladder, two double jerry can holders and  cargo rail fitted, all of which comes with a lifetime guarantee. The photos on the Patriot website do not do justice to their products!


Roof Tent – I went for a Howling Moon 1.4 Tourer and Annex, supplied and expertly fitted by Ben and his team at ‘Flat Dog’ in Lincolnshire. The tent is a high quality bit of kit, made in South Africa, and after setting it up on the front lawn a couple of times, we cannot wait to test it out in Africa!

Security – While at ‘Flat Dog’ I also had ‘Mantec’ dog and window guards fitted to help protect the car from opportunistic thieves. However, the dog guard also acts as a safety barrier, preventing the contents of the rear from flying forward and injuring passengers in the event of a crash. We have also fitted an external padlock mount to the rear door, supplied by ‘Foley’s’ for extra protection.

Other gear – Compressor, fridge, recovery equipment, spares, a good set of speakers and bluetooth radio, canvas seat covers, lifesaver jerry can, coleman dual fuel unleaded stove, LED headlights, LED rear work light, LED internal  light, USB/12V charging points, dual battery split charge system.

I will endeavour to continue expanding this section as and when I have time during the adventure. As always, if you have any questions do get in touch!


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