Thu | Apr 9, 2020

Steven James - A lover of all things mechanical

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMKareem LaTouche
Steven James says that working on his Defender 90 has been a stress reliever for him.
According to Steven James, off-road lovers are going to like Jeeps, Toyota FJ or Defenders.
The 1990 Land Rover Defender 90.
The next version of the Defender James wants to buy is the longer 110.
The vehicle is equipped with a 3.5 Rover V8 with high torque Cam.
Steven James also builds model cars like this Lego Porsche, which consists of over 2,000 pieces, which he constructed in four hours.

Steven James, a service technical manager who can fix almost anything on a vehicle, said it's hard to remember specifically when he started loving vehicles. It's just something that began when he was young, and the passion has continued growing.

"I liked vehicles as a kid, but my passion really started to get stronger when I left school and started working as an apprentice for Land Rover. I became a diagnostic technician and then I became a master tech at 23," revealed James in his thick Bedford accent.

This innate talent helped the former native of Bedford, a town in the north of London, to gain recognition in Jamaica, which consequently led to him relocating and working in Jamaica in 2010. With him came his love for off-road driving and the use of the Land Rover Defender to do so.

"When I was in Bedford, I had a 50th anniversary edition, which was one of 500 made, and I wished I never sold it. I would have brought it to Jamaica."


Starting afresh


Finding another Defender 90 that met his standards did not come easy as it took him years before he purchased one. "I bought this model two years ago, and it was already very well looked after by the previous owner. It was clear that they had spent a fair amount of money on it," James said.

Even though the vehicle drove well, after a year of driving it, James felt that there were other improvements that could be made. "The first major work I did on it was to take out the original diesel engine and replaced it with a V8, which gives more torque and has a better sound. It involved me relocating the engine mount and redoing the gearbox tunnel."

Being a hands-on person, James ordered all his parts online from the UK and came up with a plan to do all the modifications on his own. "My job was very demanding, so I had to schedule time on the weekend where I would spend about eight hours on a Saturday. On a typical workday, I would start at about 10 a.m. The overall job took me about 40 hours."

After feeling satisfied with the new engine, James started to make other modifications that would ensure that the vehicle could perform under any off-road condition. "I lifted the suspension by two inches, then I changed the tyres to high-performance tyres, and I also installed a winch bumper."

Once the primary modifications were finished, it was time for James to test the vehicle. "My first real challenge was to take it to Dacosta Farms, where I drove it through the mud pits in the most rigorous ways possible," he said with a smile.

James is also proud to reveal that he has not come across a terrain that the vehicle has not been able to conquer. "I have taken it to Hollywell, the different terrains with the Jamaica Off Road Challenge group, and some of the rivers by Yallahs. I have taken it to some really interesting places, and it has performed very well."


What's next


With so much fine-tuning done to the vehicle, James confessed that he is ready to move on to the next challenge. However, he doesn't intend on selling his vehicle for anything cheap. "I'll sell it for the right price. Persons always show interest in buying it, but they have to keep in mind that the parts are very expensive. They are going to last a long time and the good thing is, they are simple to work on. The chassis has been the same since 1948.

Even though he is looking for something new, James has no intention of trying a different brand. His love still lies with Land Rover, and he aims to go up to the bigger model, which is the Defender 110.

"I have a 3.6 litre twin-turbo engine that I want to put in the next Defender. Ultimately, my aim is to go faster and harder, and then at some point, I want to do an obstacle challenge against one of my friends, James Sampson, who is the only other person I know with a four-wheel drive V8 engine."


3.5 Rover V8 with high torque Cam

Terrifirma front winch bumper

Terrifirma front shock turrets

Terrifirma 2inch lift

Old man emu shocks

16" by 10" hardened steel rims

35" by 12.5" Maxxis Trepador tyres

Front and rear diff guards

Steering guard

Transmission guard

Heavy duty steering rods

LED head lights

JL Marine Audio