It's a thought that everyone has had, "why don't car companies sell a classic body on a modern chassis and get the best of both worlds?" A guy in Alabama has answered that question for us, if a 1999 Ford Explorer qualifies as modern.
Land Rovers are no strangers to engine swaps, and a 5.0L Ford V8 is flexible and simple enough to work in lots of applications. For this seller though, stopping at just an engine wasn't enough. It appears that he aimed to use as much of the donor vehicle as possible -- so much so that we're unsure whether this is a Land Rover, or a Ford Explorer. The Alabama DMV says it's a Rover, but the seller has the title for the Ford too just in case.
There's so much Ford DNA in this that the seller claims "If something did go wrong with someday down the road, any Ford dealer can plug into the computer and diagnose it just like it was any late model." We feel like it would be worth the buy it now price just to see the Ford dealer's reaction.
This could not have been a simple "bolt on" in any way. At first glance, it looks like a safari-styled Series II with some baubles and bolt ons. A little closer inspection might have you questioning why the normal-sized wheels don't seem to be centered in the wheel wells. The answer to that is because the body had to be shoehorned over the extra 5 inches of the Explorer's 114 inch wheelbase. That was probably a smart choice compared to trying to shorten the frame and drivetrain of the Ford to fit the body, but an undertaking nonetheless. Enough of an undertaking that most people would have written off the idea after 10 minutes with a tape measure.
The interior is where you really start questioning things. Its got typical Series II spartan touches like exposed defrosters, painted doors, and roof. But, the seats, steering wheel, carpet, and even control stack are 1999 Ford. The entire dash pod has actually been relocated to the center of the dash. We applaud the builder's "leave nothing to waste" attitude, but it's a jarring mix. A steering wheel sans-airbag cover (for full disclosure?) doesn't inspire confidence. The "60" part of the 60/40 folding seat is nestled in the back flanked by an impressive looking roll cage.
While we can't quite wrap our heads around it, this is an impressive build in some respects. There are no shots of the underside, but it seems to us that it's 99% Explorer under there. The welds and fabrication of the roll cage look neat and tidy, and the roof rack looks like it would actually handle Safari duty for an indefinite amount of time. This one had to be a labor of love, but it has some rough edges. That said, we'd love to see this builder's next project: we’ll take an FJ45 body sitting on a 4Runner.
Find this Blue/Green Oval on eBay in Mountain Home, Alabama.
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