Vehicle 3: Building a 2013 Land Rover LR4 5.0 V8 for overlanding

Vehicle 3: Building a 2013 Land Rover LR4 5.0 V8 for overlanding

I've always had a love of Land Rovers and always wanted one. After driving the 4Runner for a while, which is an excellent if uninspiring vehicle, I decided to make a change. I did a ton of research and found that the LR3/LR4 was in my price range. I test-drove a few of each and settled on a first gen LR 4 (2010-2013). I ultimately went with a 2013 LR4 HSE. It's extremely hard to find them with the HD (Heavy duty) package which includes the factory spec automatically locking differential. So I settled for one that has the base traction control system (Terrain response) that Land Rover has had for years.

I decided after watching (and re-watching) a few favorite episodes and reading (and re-reading) a few favorite articles that I wanted to do a super minimalist build.

Vehicle selection

Vehicle Modifications

Expedition Planning from Andrew St. Pierre White interviewing Mac Mackenney

Based on this, my goal was to get the right vehicle of the right age, fix any current issues and head off any likely mechanical issues and then do only the wheels and tires and then get out on the road with it.

Initial Maintenance:

Replaced ALL fluids through whole system - diff, transfer case, engine, coolant, etc.

Replaced the front and rear coolant crossover pipes pre-emptively. They have a high failure rate and if they break while you're driving you have a $20,000 bill to replace the engine. It's cheap insurance to spend $1000 up front to head the problem off.

Initial Add-ons:

I followed the Scott Brady / Overland Journal approach and ground the front calipers a TINY bit, then put BORA spacers (from on so that I could run 18" LR3 wheels.

I put 265/60/R18 Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX hybrid E-rated 10-ply truck tires on those 18" wheels as well as on the spare.

I also added the Gap IIDTool which is incredibly helpful for understanding the truck, changing computer configurations, turning things on and off in the engine computers, and watching the engine metrics in real-time.

That was it!


Everything else! Seriously, I'm holding off on absolutely everything else. I was able to do an 1800 mile trip in complete comfort and safety in its current state. It's light, simple, and as stock as possible. The tires are factory diameter but 10x stronger so no changes to mileage or odometer and no rubbing issues.

Overall, I'm super happy with this very minimalist build and may keep it this way for a while.

Goodbye 4Runner, hello LR4
No scratches (yet!)

Wheels and Tires - out with the old and in with the new

Factory-refurbished LR3 18" 12 spoke wheels.
Looking so much better already
The front caliper was just a hair too tight for the front wheel/spacer so it had to be ground down
Obviously the old crappy spare had to be removed
With the new wheels/tires on it. Much better.

Lashing and Loading

Proper lashing and loading is super critical when overlanding. Keep the weight as low and as central as possible.
I put all heavy fluids (fuel, water) in the safest and most crash-proof part of the vehicle. This aids in driveability and safety.

Gap IID Tool - good for monitoring the various system metrics as well as modifying the air suspension.

ALWAYS have good air-down/up equipment. Don't be lazy. If you need to air down, do it!

TIP: Use the Staun instant deflators if you want to speed up the airing down process.

TIP: Use a real compressor (ARB or equivalent) so it will not fail and will not take forever.

TIP: Use the InDeflate or Morrflate to inflate 2 or 4 tires at once.

Once you have a good vehicle, good tires, and air down equipment, make sure you have all the basics for survival in the back-country.

Lifesaver jerries filter 20,000 liters of muck into pristine water.

Make sure to bring your recovery tools - max traxx, shovel, axe, ropes, etc. Make sure that if you have tow straps, kinetic straps, shackles, soft shackles, etc., that they are high-quality and rated and marked.

The LR4 in its natural element.


Vehicle: 2013 Land Rover LR4
Engine ODBII: Gap IIDTool
Wheels: Land Rover LR3 18" 12-spoke
Tires: Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX Hybrid (AT/MT) 265/60R18 (31.5")
Recovery Kit: ARB / mix
Jack: Safety Jack
Sand ladder: Maxtraxx
Compressor: ARB Twin Portable