Matt Stoffregen has heard them all. "If the gearbox in your Rover isn't leaking, you'd better check the fluid level." "Nine out of ten Land Rovers are still on the road - the other one made it home." "Why do the British drink their beer at room temperature? Because Lucas builds their refrigerators."
Land Rovers are revered for their aluminum construction, low gearing, and solid axles (up until the recent advent of the LR3), but they have an equally strong reputation for electrical problems and leaky gearboxes. Dedicated Land Rover fanatics call this "character."
Stoffregen just smiles at the barbs; he doesn't let the joking bother him because there are no Lucas electronics or British gearboxes left in his '57 Series I. Stoffregen picked up the Rover for dirt cheap. It was in a state of disrepair, however the body was relatively straight and he already had plans to swap out the drivetrain anyway. The 52hp 2.0L engine and factory drivetrain were replaced with inexpensive, reliable parts from a Toyota pickup. The choice to use Toyota parts was simple since Stoffregen works for Inchworm Gear, which manufactures and sells a wide variety of aftermarket parts for Toyota pickups and 4Runners.
The engine bay houses a Toyota...
The engine bay houses a Toyota 22RE engine with a stock Toyota radiator, minimal wiring, and a custom PVC air intake.
The new engine in the Rover is a fuel-injected 22RE four-cylinder from a '91 pickup backed by a W56 five-speed transmission and an RF1A gear-driven transfer case with 5:1 Advance Adapters Trail Tamer gears. The new drivetrain is a considerable improvement over the stock Rover components, being lighter and easier to source parts for. From there, the power is transferred through CV driveshafts to axles from an '85 Toyota pickup. With only an 88-inch wheelbase, the rear driveshaft is only 14 inches long, requiring Stoffregen to use a short yoke from an early Toyota pickup and then machine the ends down even further for proper fitment.
The front axle was rebuilt and fitted with 5.29 gears but otherwise left stock due to cost concerns. Stock Toyota Birfields are not renowned for their strength; however, this has not yet posed a problem on this light rig. The front differential will be upgraded with a factory Toyota electric locker as funds allow, and Longfields will be added if breakage becomes a factor in the future. The rear axle has 5.29 gears in an electric locking third member sourced from a TRD Tacoma.
The interior is Spartan but...
The interior is Spartan but offers easy cleanup. The heater is only good for heating one leg at a time, and the fire extinguisher is kept handy just in case things get too hot.
The axles were affixed to the stock Rover suspension. Stoffregen anticipated some engineering difficulties when swapping the axles, but the front spring perches lined up exactly with the Rover leaf springs. In the rear, the spring perches needed to be relocated inward and rotated to line up the pinion with the rear CV driveshaft. Twelve-inch-travel Rancho RS9000 shocks are mounted on Ford F-250 shock towers in front, and 10-inch-travel RS5000s are bolted to the stock mounts out back. The suspension makes way for 34x9.5 Super Swamper SLs mounted on factory Toyota steel rims.
With few aftermarket options, Stoffregen fabricated his own body rmor. The heavy factory hardtop was scrapped and replaced with a six-point 'cage that protects the occupants and contains an integrated storage rack in the rear. The front bumper was constructed from 3x2 rectangular box tubing and houses a Warn 8274 winch wrapped in Rockstomper synthetic winch rope. To protect the rocker panel, trick tubular sliders were fabricated and skinned with steel plate. The passenger-side slider had to be mounted much lower than the driver-side due to the location of the factory fuel tank, sacrificing some ground clearance. A custom transfer case crossmember protects the undercarriage and rounds out the armor.
The interior and exterior are quite Spartan, with low-back seats and a small heater. Aluminum sheetmetal was used to cover the dash and mount gauges and toggle switches, while a similar aluminum center console holds small items on the trail. Otherwise, the Rover's body is fairly stock and devoid of cut fenders or carpet kits.
Stoffregen has done a wonderful job of building a capable, reliable trail rig that uses inexpensive, common components while still standing out from the crowd. It might make Winston Churchill roll over in his grave, but we applaud him for using his imagination to build such a unique rig on a realistic budget. While it certainly doesn't get the same mileage as a Prius, we much prefer Stoffregen's interpretation of a Toyota "hybrid."
Some fender trimming was necessary...
Some fender trimming was necessary to mount the Toyota steering box to the Rover frame. Beyond the box, all the steering components are from OTT Industries, including the pitman arm, steering arms, tie rod, and drag link.
A custom front bumper protects...
A custom front bumper protects the vulnerable front fenders and houses a Warn 8275 winch wrapped in Rockstomper synthetic winch line.
The front axle was sourced...
The front axle was sourced from an '85 Toyota pickup. The axle bolted right up to the stock Rover springs using an Inchworm U-bolt flip kit. The front differential is a factory Toyota electric locker with 5.29 gears.
The narrow width of the Rover...
The narrow width of the Rover makes it an easy fit through tight sections of the trail.
Like the front, the rear axle...
Like the front, the rear axle was sourced from an '85 Toyota pickup. The spring perches needed to be moved to line up with the stock Rover springs, but that was not an issue since the perches already had to be modified to rotate the pinion to accommodate the CV driveshaft.
The rear differential is a...
The rear differential is a Toyota electric locker unit with 5.29 gears and an Inchworm Motor Guard for the locker actuator.
The rolling stock consists...
The rolling stock consists of 34x9.5 Super Swamper TSLs on factory Toyota rims. The tires stuff nicely under the Rover's fenders and maintain that tall-and-narrow British look.
A cargo rack on the custom-built...
A cargo rack on the custom-built rollcage holds camping and recovery gear. Stoffregen sells the custom hitch-mounted barbecue grill through his company Stoffregen Motorsports.
|Year/Make/Model: ||’57 Land Rover Series I |
|Owner: ||Matt Stoffregen |
|Engine: ||2.4L 22RE OHC inline |
|Aspiration: ||Stock EFI |
|Transmission: ||W56 five-speed |
|Transfer Case: ||RF1A w/5:1 gears |
|Axles: ||Toyota 8-inch w/factory |
|Ring-and-pinion: ||5.29 |
|Front Suspension: ||Stock Rover springs, |
Rancho RS9000 shocks
|Rear Suspension: ||Stock Rover springs, |
Rancho RS5000 shocks
|Tires/Wheels: ||34x9.5R15 Super Swamper |
TSLs/Toyota 15x7 steel