It feels great to be able to finally drive the Defender after owning it for more than three months and I am already using it for errands. And it drives very well. The clutch works marvelously, the gears almost change themselves from second to third. I am particularly pleased with the smooth ride, in part thanks to the new poly bushings all around (rubberlike cushions that go between any metal parts between the, springs, shock absorbers and chassis). The Bilstein heavy duty shock absorbers that I decided to invest in make for a good ride, a bit stiff but that is fine, the vehicle is lighter now than it ever will be. By the time we add the soundproofing, carpet, roofrack with roof tent and all the expedition gear the heavy duty shock absorbers will pay off in spades. Best of all the motor does not smoke and it has a surprising amount of pickup, which indicates the compression is good. A good run on the highway, and some servicing should help clean up the bit of smoke that blows at take-off. Before I can do that though I have to get it legalized. Gomez the shady vendor has yet to produce the papers that I have to present to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get it licensed. Why do I think this is going to cost me more money?
Of course it is still not quite roadworthy. The signal lights do seem to work, but the brake lights do not, nor do the headlights. It is also very noisy, the body is full of holes and everything rattles and clangs. But this week for the first time since we got it I realize that the whole project just might be feasible, and that is a satisfying feeling.