Land Rover Defender restoration inprogress

Advantages of the “Body Off” Restoration

Glenrands_RossKnow Your Land Rover

If you plan on performing a thorough restoration on a collectable Land Rover, commonly referred to as “ground-up restoration,” you have two choices: Leave the body on or take the body off. Neither is the wrong way because it depends on your main goal for the car and how you expect to use it when its restoration is finished. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. The body must come off for those seeking a top-quality, show-winning restoration, referred to as a “Pebble Beach quality” restoration. Even if you want just a good-quality restoration but are not seeking a flawless result, there are still many advantages to removing the body from the chassis. Body-off restorations mean that the car’s body is unbolted from the chassis. 

With the body removed, you will be able to inspect the chassis for cracks, broken welds, and rust problems, which will help you decide whether the chassis should be repaired or replaced. Often, we would recommend replacing a rusted chassis with a galvanised copy. There are a few manufacturers to choose from, all of which are of similar quality. Our preference is a chassis supplied by the Polish manufacturer Maer (check them out here: We send all our galvanised chassis away for specialist priming and painting to enhance durability. Contrary to popular belief, untreated galvanised metals can begin to corrode.

Chassis by MAER
We highly recommend these chassis made by MAER.

While the chassis is exposed, this will allow for more straightforward installation of new brake and fuel lines and increased safety and reliability by checking if any bolts, nuts, or clips need replacement. It will also provide unimpeded access for you to install the engine, gearbox axles and exhaust system accurately and solidly without any chance of banging into the freshly painted chassis later. In practically every case, removing the body from the chassis is a simple matter of removing 10 or 12 bolts, disconnecting the cables and steering column, and it’s ready to be lifted. Depending on the Land Rover, it usually requires 4-5 technicians to lift the body off its frame and set it on a pair of sawhorses. My Defender 90 needed four guys to lift the tub off but only two for the rest of the panels, such as the wings etc.  With the body removed, you will be better able to strip and refinish its undercarriage because the chassis, driveshaft and rear axle won’t be in the way.

body off restoration under way on a land rover defender
This land rover restoration is a typical example of the body of technique where we really get to the chassis

We use a unique frame to support the body safely while we work underneath it.  Alternatively, we also have access to a specialist rotisserie. This will allow us to rotate the body to any position, making those laborious jobs of sanding, welding, and painting far more accessible than if the vehicle was being worked on from underneath. Unfortunately, there are a few downsides to performing a body-off restoration. The most significant factor is space. The other issue is time. Although it’s easier to replace a chassis and restore a body separately, body-off restorations usually require a few more months than body-on repairs because there’s more time-consuming work involved.
Conversely, if the original chassis is in good enough condition, you can still obtain good quality results by doing a body-on restoration. Your Land Rover won’t be as detailed underneath compared to a body-off repair, nor will it be as valuable. Still, if your goal is to drive the car instead of trailering it to shows or you are pressed for time or have limited resources, then a body-on restoration is the way to go.

You can view our social media pages for images of past and ongoing restorations. (we aren’t that regular with the updates, but we get there when the time allows).



If you would like to get in touch with us about restoring your prized Land Rover, then you can contact us through our contacts page:

Newly galvanised and coated chassis
Properly galvanised and treated chassis are highly recommended and will give your Land Rover more mileage than you could imagine.