The A2A Expedition Defender

Written By: Caleb Wallace

June 20, 2023

The Land Rover Defender used by the A2A Expedition family for the last 11 years was bought second hand in 2009. The Landy had three previous owners and was used primarily as a farm truck in the interior of South Africa. The sneaky bugger salesman had insisted that the Landy had not been in any accidents, but it had, so he offered a new gearbox as consolation. I was consoled. Her name is Mafuta, which means “oil” in Swahili, fitting for a Land Rover.

Here are some specs:

  • Land Rover Defender 130 “Storm”
  • South African Spec Td5 18P, 2.5 l, 5 cylinder turbo diesel without EGT
  • Right hand drive
  • Double cab
  • 384 000 km’s on the odometer

Purchase price R160000.00 ($20 000.00 USD)

I modified the truck from standard into an overland ready vehicle and then drove her to Kilimanjaro from Cape Town, a journey during which the Landy performed faultlessly over 15000 miles and across seven countries. In preparation for that journey we installed:

  • An aluminum topper,
  • A 1.4m Howling Moon roof tent,
  • A Hannibal awning
  • A self built drawer and load system
  • Rancho XL shocks ( which failed as soon as we crossed into Mozambique)
  • Standard Defender springs
  • A Little Black Box engine management system (essential!)
  • Melvill and Moon Seat covers
  • Roof mounted 3 Ammo boxes in a Camp Cover canvas tote
  • Roof mounted 3 jerry cans
  • Long range fuel tank
  • Frontrunner Bullbar
  • 32, 11.5 R15 BFG MT’s
  • 2 x Roof mounted spare tires, one on a wheel
  • Front Runner steering and diff protectors
  • Axe, spade, propane gas tanks rear mounted.
  • Ramsey 9000lb winch

That journey to Kilimanjaro changed our lives and overland travel became our passion. We bit the bullet hard, liberated the children from school, sold the business, the cars, the crap, put a bunch of sentimental crap in storage and shipped the Land Rover to Uruguay, South America. In preparation for South America we:

  • Replaced the 1.4m Howling moon RTT with a 2.4m Howling Moon RTT.
  • Installed Terra Firma heavy duty springs (excellent)
  • Terra Firma Big Bore Expedition shocks (excellent)

One spare, hood mounted 750 / 16 “space saver”.

We then circumnavigated South America before driving from Argentina to Alaska (A2A initially stood for Argentina to Alaska, became America to Asia then Asia to Africa and now Africa to Americas). In the USA we realised the limitations of the Roof top tent set up and designed a camper built on the 130 frame. Our challenge was to build a lightweight, flexible, tough as nails camper with sleeping and seating for four. The camper had to allow a lot of natural light, be efficient to heat and cool and had to be able to take on the toughest roads in the world.

The camper features:

  • Sleeping for four
  • Built in water tanks
  • Kitchen with 11 kg gas
  • Extended roof rack
  • General Grabber X3 285 75 R16
  • Built in Storage boxes
  • Solar power with dual battery
  • Bearmach rock sliders
  • Bearmach spot lights
  • Entreq sand ladders
  • Howling Moon 3m awning with annex
  • Pelican spares box on roof rack
  • 3 x Jerry cans on roof rack
  • Firestone Ride Rite rear air bags.

Wish list. Eventually we will install:

  • Maxtrax
  • Diesel camper heater
  • Surfboard / SUP boards
  • Cummins turbo diesel engine
  • Full custom suspension
  • ceiling vents.

Luisa, Keelan and I built the new camper (with composite panels, windows and adhesives supplied by Total Composites) in Florida over the course of two and a half months and the work has not stopped since. The Landy and family then shipped to the United Kingdom and toured Europe and Turkey before driving down the Western Coast of Africa and returning temporarily to South Africa eight years after leaving. The Land Rover Now has 390 000 km’s on the clock, original unmodified engine. We have now prepared the Defender to drive from Cape Town to Vladivostok, the longest possible over land route, if we can drive through Syria. The interior will be remodeled when the kids move on to their adult lives.

We have written five books about our journey, you can get your copy from our-


Instagram: @Graeme.r.bell

Facebook: A2A Expedition

South Africa.jpg


    3035 Tarra AVE #3
    Prescott, AZ 86301
    By Appointment Only
    Subscribe to join our newsletter.
    Stay Up To Date With Overland Kitted.