David and Goliath Against the World: A Defender Story
The Land Rover Defender is one of the most iconic overland vehicles ever produced, and while not known for its reliability, its capability and field serviceability are renowned. As the very last Land Rover Defender recently rolled off the production line in Solihull, England, in January, 2016, after a 68-year run and over 2 million examples produced, it’s only fitting we take a look at a specific example of this legendary vehicle—one that has worn the Defender badge with pride, and nearly circumnavigated the globe…twice.
Goliath is David Priddis’s 2006 Land Rover Defender 110 TD5 he purchased new and slowly modified over a few-year period, specifically for round-the-world overland travel. David revels in exploring remote areas of the globe and is a seasoned mechanic, picking up many of his skills from his father and other mechanics he’s met in Europe and Africa. David caught the Landy bug early, as he learned to drive on the beach in his hometown of Jersey, UK, in a 1979 Land Rover Series 3 109. He was instantly hooked, and his early adventures traveling were in a Land Rover Defender 110 hardtop TDI200 he fully outfitted and took on a journey stretching the full length of Africa.
While David loved his old Defender, he thought it best for his around-the-world travels to start fresh and build a vehicle from scratch. Taking lessons learned from his early travels and applying them to the new build, Goliath was born. The vehicle got its name “Goliath” early in the build, as David felt there was a similarity between the small stone that slew the giant and the idea that if one bolt were removed from the wrong place, this legendary Defender could come to a screeching halt. Oh, and his name, David, created somewhat of a unique relationship between he and his new rig, adding a bit of an alternative ending to the biblical legend.
“The vehicle got its name ‘Goliath’ early in the build, as David felt there was a similarity between the small stone that slew the giant and the idea that if one bolt were removed from the wrong place, this legendary Defender could come to a screeching halt.”
Goliath is set up in a very unique way that fits David’s specific chosen style of overland travel. It has been strengthened and upgraded for serious long-distance off roading, while carrying a heavy load of supplies: up to 47.5 gallons of fuel, 14.5 gallons of water, off-road recovery equipment, camping supplies and adventure gear. Suspension, tire and wheel upgrades are critical components in this modification program. The typical off-road upgrades have been made, including: winch, front winch bumper, snorkel, under body armor, rock sliders, upgraded driving lighting, rear door spare tire carrier, etc. It was also necessary to take off-road capability modifications one-step further, since solo vehicle remote off-road travel is a regular occurrence for Goliath.
The ECU has been relocated inside the cab and to a higher placement, keeping it out of the dirt, dust and water found under the hood when traveling off road. A second spare tire is fitted on the roof rack, an extra precaution that has proven to be worth the effort and added weight, as double flats have occurred. Even the winch cable has been upgraded to a synthetic line, as a day of winch recovery can be quite taxing on a solo adventurer.
Besides the off-road upgrades, the vehicle has also undergone a bunch of upgrades centered around full-time life on the road. A full fresh water system with electric pump and filtration keeps David clean and hydrated. An extra battery, with split charge system, keeps the top load fridge, water pump and inverter, used for charging computers and camera equipment, powered up. A custom built load bay shelving system organizes and secures gear during travel, while metal grille window coverings, tinted windows and a rear door padlock discourages theft while abroad.
A full-length aluminum roof rack keeps weight on the roof to a minimum while providing a secure place to store the second spare, a gear storage box and a surf kayak. David prefers to keep things simple on his travels, and regularly sleeps in a ground tent, while sometimes splurging on a hostel or hotel.
On the rare occasion where personal or vehicle security is paramount, or the weather is just too harsh, he also has an ingenious system that allows him to lay flat-ish on the passenger side seats inside Goliath although it’s admittedly not the most comfortable setup.
Miles and Miles and Miles…
David and Goliath’s travels have come to a sudden stop more than once. Spend a night around the campfire with David, with the flames flickering off Goliath’s white paint and unmistakable silhouette, and you’ll hear amazing tales of breakdowns, robberies and corruption from the far corners of the globe.
Once, Goliath’s clutch shattered into a thousand pieces while fording a river in Uyuni, Bolivia. A local farmer was found and talked into using his giant tractor to remote Goliath from the river and tow him 14 hours to the nearest city. It then took David another week to make the repairs, with no lift, having to fabricate some parts with just hand tools, as parts couldn’t be acquired in any kind of reasonable time frame. The cherry on top of this story is the remote exit route through the South West circuit towards Chile, which forces one to commit when entering and truly tested these “field” repairs. Luckily, David is a seasoned mechanic and Goliath carried on, as Defenders typically do.
Okay, AK Attack
Besides the expected and unexpected vehicle issues encountered by the overland traveler, David has encountered other situations on his global travels with Goliath, but luckily has always kept a cool collected head and used Goliath as a tool to remove himself from bad situations. A great example of this is when he asked for directions in a rural Mongolian village, where locals tried to set him up for a robbery by sending him in the wrong direction. Luckily, they were drunk and unconvincing, prompting David to find his own way in the opposite direction. Even “little” things can turn into a big problem when traveling in remote regions of the world. In Antigua, Guatemala, Goliath’s window was smashed in by a petty thief, creating a difficult mission to find an appropriate piece of replacement glass. While just a time consuming nuisance, situations like this can be quite taxing on the overland traveler. The key is always to keep your eyes open and move forward, like the time David was crossing a bridge in Senegal and a local pulled an AK47 on the vehicle, trying to elicit a bribe for crossing the bridge. David noticed the weapon had no bolt or ammunition, so he carried on without paying the bribe. Corrupt government officials can be the worst, like the time David had to deal with border guards in Nigeria that hunted him down at gunpoint; luckily, he evaded them, using his trusty Defender to get away unscathed.
“…David was crossing a bridge in Senegal and a local pulled an AK47 on the vehicle, trying to elicit a bribe for crossing the bridge. David noticed the weapon had no bolt or ammunition, so he carried on without paying…”
Even after experiencing these horrors abroad, David stays positive and wants people to remember: “People are generally friendly and helpful across the world, don’t let a few bad people put you off exploring our amazing planet.“ When traveling to remote regions of the world it’s also helpful to have a trusty friend, which you know well, by your side. In David’s case, this is his trusty Defender, Goliath.
David and Goliath Against the World
When asked about his motivation to hit the road less traveled around the globe David says, “Curiosity of what’s over the horizon. I see photos of amazing places and am driven to go there and experience them for myself.” Driven is right, with over 130,000 miles across six continents, traveling through 60-plus countries and counting, David and Goliath have been an unstoppable duo. Currently on the final leg of his around-the-world journey, Goliath is transporting David back to Jersey by way of India, the Middle East and Southern Europe.
“Currently on the final leg of his around-the-world journey, Goliath is transporting David back to Jersey by way of India, the Middle East and Southern Europe.”
Even though Land Rover has stopped production of the Defender, the off-road and overland heritage of this remarkable iconic vehicle lives on in well-traveled adventure machines like Goliath.
Goliath’s Travel Resume
132,000+ miles on 6 continents and in 60+ countries
- Europe/Russia/Asia- 218 days, 27,046 miles, 17 countries
- Americas- 484 days, 47,511 miles, 16 countries
- Australia- 180 days, 17,589 miles
- South Asia/Middle East/Southern Europe- Currently in India heading West, back home in Jersey, UK.
VEHICLE: 2006 Land Rover Defender 110 2.5L TD5 RHD
- Electric Engine Fan & Thermostat
- EGR Blanking Kit
- K&N Air Filter
- NAS-Spec Driving Lights
OFF ROAD MODIFICATIONS:
- 9K Winch with Synthetic Cable
- Front Off-Road Bumper
- 12” LED Light Bar
- Snorkel with Cyclone Pre-Filter
- Front & Rear Differential Guards
- Steering Rack Guard
- Track-Rod Guard
- Rock Sliders
- Rear Door Spare Tire Carrier
- 2nd Spare Tire/Wheel Located on Roof
- Relocated ECU
- Sand & Bridging Ladders
- 180-Liter Fuel Capacity (40 L main tank extension & 60 L Aux Tank)
- 55-Liter Fresh Water Tank with Electric Pump
- Tow Package
- Tuffy Center Security Console
- Second 120 AH 12V Battery with Split Charge System
- Top-Load 12v Fridge with 800W 240V Inverter
- Custom Load Bay Shelving System
- Tinted Rear Windows
- Metal Grill Covers on all Load Bay Windows
- Rear Door Padlock System
- Full-Length Aluminum Roof Rack
- Roof Storage Box
- Rear Spot Area Light
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Spring 2015 print issue of Tread Magazine.