Even though we seem to be entering a new “Golden Age” of automotive advances in technology, savvy auto-philes have been using their own ingenuity for quite some time to do the very things that the major manufacturers are just now getting around to, such as EV and Hybrid vehicles. Some of those cars have even been highlighted here on RideLust. For those of us without the time or know-how to start taking out our car’s power plant or installing solar panels on our roofs, there are less extreme ways in which to retrofit your older vehicle to improve on the original and enjoy the benefits of some of the advances made in fuel efficiency.
Perhaps the most significant upgrade that many SUV owners are looking towards is a swap of their gas engine for diesel. Unfortunately, here in the States we have only recently begun to really embrace the diesel engine that Europeans have enjoyed for years. One shop that has set out to rectify the diesel’s neglect is East Coast Rovers located in Maine. This shop specializes in taking US-Spec Land Rover V8s and swapping in a TDi engine. Though certainly not a cheap proposition, this sort of engine transplant job has many advantages, the biggest being fuel efficiency. Over the long term, the benefits of the TDi include the diesel engines proven durability (especially valuable in off-roading) and almost double the fuel efficiency. While the original V8 Defenders average between 12-15 mpg, a turbo diesel increases that number to 26 mpg. Also, because diesels are inherently simpler in construction and devoid of most of the electronics present in new engines, they also typically require less service and last longer than the original Rover’s V8. Forgetting all of the efficiency and repair headaches that an owner may alleviate with a diesel, most would agree that as an offroading vehicle, diesels out perform their gas counterparts by a wide margin. According to East Coast Rovers, the low end torque of the Tdi which produces 195 ft. lbs. at just 1800 rpms, means that a driver has the ability to negotiate nearly any terrain it can get their tires on. The Tdi has so much torque at idle that it will just keep going even without your foot on the clutch or the throttle. Another benefit of the Tdi off road is the fact that is doesn’t overheat or generate an increasing amount of heat while idling.
While those that drive hybrids and soon, electric cars, can bask in the righteousness reserved for those that take climate change and energy problems seriously, the upgrades made to an expensive car like the Defender could surely be adopted in a wider range of vehicles already on the road. Meaning there really are increasingly few reasons why most everyone can’t take an active part in addressing these issues.