(new photos + updated info)
(8 new videos.)
(6 new videos.)
By Ronny Staberg -
The story of
my Range Rover 4,6 HSE 1997 that has developed into an off-road project.
Range Rover model P38 is by many considered as mainly an on-road
vehicle, a sort of luxury cruising limo with excellent comfort.
True, but many forget about the off-road capability Land Rover has designed
into this car.
I bought my first Land Rover, Range
Rover, in 2006 with my mind set to use it as a second car for
the family since it is a very practical car for daily use. Especially in
winter time and also as a great car for towing the caravan.
This car is a Range Rover 4,6 HSE 1997 - "Arden edition", which means it
is almost fully equipped with all the standard features plus extra
leather trim and built in navigation system.
The car was in very good condition and is living up to the saying "Ride in style", even though it has long mileage.
This car soon became the family's favorite.
Just 2 weeks after the purchase of the
car my friend who is very keen on off-roading managed to convince me to
bring my car to an off-road meeting in south of Sweden (4 wheel drive
jamboree - High Chapparal). As I used the car off-road I was immediately
"sold" on this kind of adventures.
Ever since then and as I have attended several other off-road events my
mind has slowly grown to further improve this great car for off-road
Start of the project
My goal has been to utilize the car's original feature with the air
spring leveling system. This in order to keep it as good as possible for
on-road every day use, but at the same time make it as a potent off-roader.
So from there I started making up plans
and got also in contact with Christer Wilsby at
RedneckRangies in Stockholm who have much
experience in off-roading and he has among other off-road cars also a
Range Rover P38 that he has made some improvements of. During 2006 the
discussion kept on and I finally decided on my project.
The goal was to try to keep the car
looking as "original" as possible for on-road use, but
also to add features to make it really good for off-road use.
The result became that for every day use
I have the standard wheels mounted and using the car in "highway
mode" (low level),
which makes it look and perform as a standard
Range P38, while going to off-road meetings I just change tires and
install the winch and I then have a really good off-road car.
RedneckRangies in Stockholm
are the companies who have helped out with most of the
installations on the car.
These are the modifications (so far):
realized that one of the best improvements would be some really good
tires. To get good ground clearance I would like to get as big tires
as possible that could fit the car. Unfortunately the Range Rover
has quite narrow wheel wells so I soon understood that really big
tires should not fit with full flexibility and steering. After have
searched the internet and read at
rangerovers.net about tire sizes that should fit the car without
any major modifications I purchased the "Maxxis Mudzilla 31" x 11,5"
fitted to 16" x 8,5" heavy duty CW rims. Bigger wheels
would fit but would require cutting the inner wheel wells or the
The offset of the rims made
the tires additional width to go level with the inside of
the original tire. The "drawback" was that the wheels and
tires extends ~55mm
to the outside of the wheels. The wheels fits though perfectly
even in "Highway mode" (Low ride height).
These tires I use mostly for off-road adventures, while the standard
wheels are for everyday use.
(However, after increasing ride height I believe 32 or maybe 33"
would be possible to fit without modifying the car.)
The standard tires are Pirelli Scorpion 255/55-18 on original
- Winter tires are Cooper Discoverer M+S 245/60-17 on alloy wheels.
These tires works really well both on- and off-road in winter
Update April 2010:
During the past years I have come to love and hate the Mudzilla
tyres, they are great offroad but not good at all onroad. So I have
been looking for some tyres that are a better combination on- and
offroad. The Mudzillas were 31" diameter and I wanted something
Based on all information I have found 32" are the biggest to fit
without more modifications than higher suspension. Some seem also to
have fitted 33" but as I have understood some more modifications are
I have been looking at BF Goodrich KM2 285/75-16 (~33") but
also the Parnelli Jones - Dirt Grip 285/75-16 (34"). I have
had my eyes on the Dirt Grips for a long time as they seem to be a
very good allround type and based on the thread pattern they look
very competent in various type of conditions.
I decided to go with
the Dirt Grips and do whatever necessary to fit them.
As I received the tyres I realized they were much bigger than the
Mudzillas. In order to make them fit I had to further extend the
ride height at all settings with 25mm (~1"), I had also to remove
the rear mudflaps. The front tyres still rubbed severely at Low and
Normal EAS setting so to make the tyres to work I had to modify the
inner fenders, cut the front spoiler, and then to actually modify
the wheel arch by cutting the arch.
The tyres works really good in all types of conditions,
especially when lowered tyre pressure (~1,0 bar). It seems like the
tyres will work with even lower pressure, I will try 0,7 or 0,5 bar.
In snow the tyres performed outstanding. I am really happy with
Originally, Land Rover has installed an electronic
traction control (TC) to improve the traction in very slippery
terrain, this system use the ABS system to break the wheel
that is spinning in order to transfer power to the wheel with grip. This system is standard in the rear axel on
1995-1998 model and became also standard on the front axel from
model year 1999.
I found this system was working quite well in the terrain but I
wanted to increase the traction even further. Wilsby had installed "TrueTrack"
limited slip differentials in his P38 and was very happy how they
So I decided to install these limited slip differentials in both
rear and front axel.
The result using them in the snow, mud and terrain is just simply great. The wheels
are pulling like a locked differential but the car is still
very maneuverable. The good things with these are that they are like
"fit and forget", after installation you use the car the same as
before and the limited slip differentials are at work all the time,
on- or off-road. In my opinion they even improve the on-road
characteristics at winter condition.
I discovered during my off-road
adventures that protections for the differential housings are very
important. I was lucky the times I hit rocks with my front diff that
nothing broke, I just ended up with a small dent on the housing cover.
There seems though to be a big problem to find any off-road accessories for
the Range Rover P38, during my search on internet and also
mailing several Land Rover accessory companies world wide I just
found out no one
had any differential protections for the P38.
helped me to find a protection for the rear axel. Wilsby yet again
came to the rescue and presented the front axel protection found at
a company called
front axel protection is actually much more than just a diff
protection, it rather protects the whole axel and steering rods.
Since my air-springs had became very
old with lots of dry cracks I decided to have them replaced. Wilsby
have contacts with Arnott Industries who makes after market
air-springs for the P38. He informed that "Arnott Generation III"
springs had been developed to increase the spring travel with 3-4"!
They had also managed to solve the problem with the standard
springs, which suffer from a "reversed" suspension characteristics
where the spring is soft when the car is in "highway mode" (low
setting) while being more hard when in off-road mode. Just the
opposite what you really would like it to be.
These new Arnott Gen III is the answer to solve the problem, so I
had those installed as a replacement of my standard air-springs.
To be able to fully utilize the extended spring travel the original
shock absorbers was replaced with long travel Bilstein 7100.
With those new air-springs installed I decided to increase the ride
height, which was done electronically by reprogramming the air-spring computer
(EAS). A height increase of
~25-100 mm (1"-4") depending on ride mode (Highway-Normal-Offroad).
The result with new springs and shock absorbers is that even though
the car is higher than before the road handling has improved while
yet being soft when in off-road height.
to the modifications of the suspension system with the increased
travel we have had to extend the potentiometer arms.
During extreme flex at the dropping wheel there will also be a
sideway force on the linkage arm that will cause stresses on the
linkage and cause it to break.
I have further modified the potentiometer arm and installed a linkage that will
allow sideway forces. (More information on the "Journal"
winch had been on the whish list for a long time but some problems
had to be over-come.
Sweden we have a mandatory annual car check-up (Bilprovning) and it
is very difficult to get a car passed with outer modifications like a
winch installed due to pedestrian safety. For trucks it is easier, therefore most off-road cars
in Sweden are registered as
light trucks, which gives them more flexibility to install add-on's.
Since my car is registered as a car we decided to install a
detachable winch. A 4,2 tons winch on a bracket system attached to
the frame of the car is installed, with all the attachment system
behind the license plate. So without the winch it can not be seen
any traces at all of the winch mount. The installation time is less
than 5 minutes.
Here are some more pictures of the installation as I have got
several requests and questions of the winch installation.
points has been installed so now there are double towing rings at
front and rear.
Manual air recovery system
a back-up in case of a problem in the air suspension system I have
installed manual filling valves. If a fault in the EAS system I then
have the possibility to manually fill the air suspensions
individually via the fill valves located in the engine compartment.
The kit comes from
Thule roof rack is used for carrying the spare off-road tire. 4
lights installed makes it even look good :-)
in Stockholm made an own design of rock slides to protect the body.
They have at several times proved to be very good to have.
(radio: MAAS DX5000, antenna: Sirio 5000, amp. Zetagi B300P), PARROT-3400 bluetooth handsfree stereo
integration for the mobile phone, a DVD
entertainment system for the rear seat passengers.