The Millbug – Badass Budget Land Rover Build

The millennium bug is a trials vehicle built up for exclusive off road use, in trials and some extreme off-roading. The idea is to have a vehicle that could be used and abused without fear of damaging it and worrying about it. The budget Land Rover build project was based on a zero budget, utilising bits and pieces collected over the years and some others begged, borrowed and improvised. However despite the low budget the vehicle still had to look good, have excellent offroad ability and be 100% Land Rover.

The real challenge building this vehicle was not having a specific donor vehicle, or plan to work to. Everything used was from Land Rovers but not one specific model type, its was all a mix and match. The main components were a Forward Control chassis, Series IIA gearbox and body panels and a Range Rover V8 engine.

The Basic Vehicle

The basic vehicle comes from a Series IIA Forward Control Workshop vehicle. Bought from the SANDF in the early 1990’s this vehicle was a wreck with damaged body parts and perfect for a budget Land Rover Build. The chassis however was sound. The forward control chassis is identical to that of a normal 109 Land Rover, except that it has an additional raised frame welded onto the existing ladder frame chassis. This frame was cut off the basic chassis. The chassis was then cut in half behind the third last cross member. A total of 9″ was then taken out and the rear end was welded back to leave a wheelbase of 100″. The rear cross member was also cut off at the second last cross member to increase the departure angle.

The standard ENV axles have been retained on the vehicle. These axles originate from Australia and were standard on the 109″ forward controls due to their increased strength and carrying capacity over the standard Rover axles.

The rear PTO driven winch comes out of the original Forward Control. It is an original Land Rover hydraulic PTO driven winch. In the picture below you can see the 30l oil tank which holds the oil used for the winch operation. A proportional hydraulic valve block with simple forward/rear lever is mounted and operated through the seat box in the cab.

The Body and Look of the vehicle

The classic look of the Series IIA Land Rover was without question the choice of body type, with the lights set in the grill. Our budget Land Rover build used free body parts readily available and sourced from different vehicles independently.

A forward control seat box had to be used due to its availability and the matching doors. Special mounting points were required to accommodate the seat box.

The original Forward Control firewall was used, despite suffering from some serious rust rotting, but it was structurally sound. Firewall outriggers had to be manufactured and mounted onto the chassis. To determine the exact positioning the body panels were temporarily mounted to make sure that it would all fit together.

The rear body shape and design is not finalised yet. It will most probably take the form of a shortened LWB bakkie. Problem is that at the moment we don’t have such a thing, but we are looking for one. If we don’t find one we will probably go for a simple flat wooden or checker plate load bed with mud guards.

The body panels were then vaguely prepared and sprayed with a 2K Land Rover Green.

The Engine and Gearbox

Various engine options have been considered for this vehicle. Everything from a 2.25 diesel to a 2.25 turbo charged petrol to the Rover 3.5L V8. We finally decided to go for the V8, because Brian had one removed from a Range Rover that he had bought recently, perfect for the budget Land Rover build. It was something that would suite a large vehicle like this in terms of power and torque as well as sounding good, but ruggedness and longevity were important.

We wanted to fit the V8 into the existing space without having to move the grill forward or changing the Series IIA look. The radiator was moved forward by about 2 centimetres, to accommodate the engine but keep the basic body shape. The problem was the front cross member which housed the steering relay which was exactly where the radiator had to go. So the solution was to cut out the cross member (leaving the steering relay intact. A substitute cross member was inserted into the front end of the chassis to provide the necessary rigidity.

The standard series II gearbox has been retained. It was chosen mainly due to its low cost and availability. It is the strongest of the series gearboxes and we are hoping that by not abusing it, it will be able to take the power and torque from the V8. Low ratio transfer gears from a forward control have replaced the standard gears in the transfer box. This was done to ensure a low enough low ratio for the 900×16″ tyres that will be fitted. The picture below also shows how the left centre part of the firewall was widened to make space for the exhaust manifold of the V8 engine

The hydraulic pipes visible below are for the hydraulic winch, which is mounted at the back of the vehicle. The winch is operated with two levers one to couple the gear drive to the PTO in the gearbox and the other operates the valves for in and out spooling. The picture below shows the seat box mounted with the winch controls mounted through the seat box.

In the picture above the modification to the clutch slave cylinder is visible. With the V8 fitted the standard mounting position for the slave cylinder on the series 2 gearbox was taken up by the starter motor. So the next best option seemed to be to mount the cylinder inside the cab where there was some free space.

The engine fitted in fairly easily except for the left hand side exhaust manifold which sits very close to the chassis and firewall. However with the firewall modification mentioned earlier, and using the square type manifold,  it did fit in. The main problem was the total length of the engine. This problem was solved by moving the radiator forward slightly, and by removing the viscous unit and mounting the fan directly onto the water pump. The radiator is from a forward control hence a bit larger than normal.

This engine is fitted with a 4 barrel Holey on an Offenhauser dual port manifold carburetor which increases the fuel consumption and power, but reduces hassles and maintenance.

The Suspension and Brakes

The distinctive round shaped diffs are the ENV axles which were standard on the Forward Control. We are attempting to design a budget Land Rover build suspension in such a way that we will get maximum ground clearance and maximum articulation. This was achieved by mounting the springs on top of the axles. To soften the suspension and improve articulation, some of the blades from the leaf springs were removed.

New shock absorber mountings had to be made at the rear. The rear axle above shows the modified shock mounting on top of the spring. Range Rover shock absorbers have been fitted to cope with the longer wheel travel. The large tank is the oil tank for the hydraulic PTO winch. 

The brakes are standard 11″x 3″ as fitted on a Forward Control.

The budget Land Rover build got a roll cage taken from Brian’s camper 109. It originally fitted on the outside of the 109 thus sticking out making the vehicle wider. For the Mill Bug we decided to make it narrower and fitting inside the vehicle outline. So the front frame now enters at the top of the wing and is bolted to the firewall outrigger and to the windscreen mounting post.

The rear end of the cage was seriously modified to fit into the vehicle outline. At the back the cage bolts onto the seatbox and was then made to mount onto the chassis just behind the seatbox and onto the rear of the chassis.

The re-modeled roll cage now resembles a desert racing space frame which makes the 100inch wheel base look really short. It seems very sturdy though, and the design still allows for access to back for people and goods if need be. 

The 900×16.00 tyres were fitted to forward control 2B rims. The total ground clearance of the axle is pretty impressive. The lowest part of the chassis is also really impressive with the door bottoms sitting almost at waist height.

The rear body was taken from the wrecked loadbed of a 110. We cut it up and custom fitted it to the rollcage. The rear floor was raised to make space for the winch. New mounting brackets were welded onto the chassis to mount the wheel arches onto

 The rear end was finished off by cutting out the rear corner sections. Standard corner galvanised corner cappings were used.

100% Budget Land Rover Build Specification

Chassis109″ Forward Control
AxlesENV from 109″ Forward Control
Springs109″ Forward Control (leafs removed)
ShocksRange Rover on rear
PropshaftsRange Rover on front
Land Rover on back
Rims and WheelsForward Control 2B,
GearboxSeries II from 109″ 1 Ton 
Engine 3.5l V8 from a Range Rover
RadiatorForward Control
BrakesForward Control 109″
ClutchSeries IIA
Wings, Grill, Bonnet Series IIA
Firewall4cyl, Series IIA
Seatbox, floorboards, doors109″ Forward Control
Rear body110
Fuel tank45l Series II – III
Exhaust2 separate pipes 1 silencer per pipe

You can watch the full video of yhis badass budget Land Rover build on our YouTube Channel

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