4″ Lifted Land Rover Discovery 1 Overland Build on 35 inch Tires

  • Feature: Off-road Build
  • Vehicle: 1994 Land Rover Discovery 1
  • Wheels & Suspension: 4” Lift, 35” tires
  • Interview With The Owner: Davin Stephens
1994 Land Rover Discovery lifted 35 inch tires
Land Rover Discovery 4" lift and off-road bumpers
First generation Land Rover Discovery overland expedition
Lifted Land Rover Discovery 1 with a 4 Inch lift
1994 Land Rover Discovery lifted 35 inch tires +3
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The Land Rover Discovery 1 has always been recognized as an adventure vehicle for people with an active lifestyle thanks to its remarkable off-road capabilities inherited from its famous ancestors. It’s capable of taking you just about anywhere with a good bit of comfort and convenience, whether it’s sandy dunes, rocky mountain paths or muddy trails, especially if it’s a lifted Land Rover Discovery.

In this feature we will speak with the owner of this Land Rover Discovery 1 off road build equipped with a 4″ suspension lift (Fox Coilovers), massive 35 inch off-road tires and other overland-stye gear.

Lifted Land Rover Discovery 1 with a 4 Inch lift

Off Road Build & Parts List

1994 lifted Land Rover Discovery 3.9L V8

Wheels

  • KMC off-road rims with beadlocks
  • 35″ Dynastar Pro tires

Lift & Diffs

  • 4″ Fox Coil Over Suspension lift
  • Front Air Locker

Exterior mods

  • Full body roof rack
  • Ladder
  • Fender flares
  • Skid plates
  • Custom front and rear bumpers
  • Custom rock sliders
Land Rover Discovery lifted 35 inch tires safari roof rack

⚙️ Technical Details

Model: Land Rover Discovery 1st Generation


Production years: 1989-1999


Approximate prices: $5,000-$15,000 Based on JDPower used car market data ⓘ


Engine: 3.9L V8


Drivetrain: All-Wheel-Drive


Construction: Body-on-Frame


Traction Enhancement Devices: Rear Locker + Front Air Locker


Low Range Gearing: Yes


Stock wheel size: 235/70R16 – 29″


Offroad Wheel Size: 35″


Build Level: Advanced


Budget: $$$


Off-road Capability Score: 55/70

How did we get this score?

Land Rover Discovery 4" lift and off-road bumpers

About the Model – LR Discovery 1 Generation

The original Land Rover Discovery 1, launched in 1989, is the vehicle that has very much formed the image of an overland SUV of today. With its boxy shape, coil sprung live axles, and impressive off-road capabilities, the Discovery 1 set the template for modern overland vehicles.

Land Rover famously used the Discovery 1 in the iconic Camel Trophy – a grueling cross Africa adventure competition that took competitors through harsh African environments.

The images of Discovery 1s overcoming muddy tracks, deep water crossings, and steep inclines in the Camel Trophy are iconic for modern fans of overland-style expeditions around the world.

The Discovery 1’s impressive off-road credentials and globetrotting adventures sparked an interest in overland travel that continues today. Its balance of ruggedness and practicality demonstrates the Discovery 1’s important influence on the modern overland movement.

Off Road Capabilities

Dirt/Mud

The Land Rover Discovery 1 performed remarkably well off-road in dirt and mud compared to other SUVs of the 1990s. With its coil-sprung live axles providing excellent wheel articulation, two-speed transfer case, and excellent ground clearance, the Discovery 1 could traverse deeply rutted trails and muddy terrain that would leave other SUVs stuck.

The Discovery’s permanent 4WD system constantly apportions torque to maintain traction, while its locking center differential gave it an advantage in low-grip situations. These capabilities allowed the Discovery 1 to keep moving where SUVs like the Ford Explorer or Jeep Cherokee would struggle.

Sand

In sandy conditions, the Land Rover Discovery 1 shone thanks to its lightweight and powerful turbo diesel engine. The diesel torque and engine braking ability allowed the Discovery 1 to maintain momentum in loose sand, whereas heavier V8-powered SUVs tended to dig in and get bogged down.

The Discovery’s coil springs and long-travel suspension kept the wheels moving even over tall dunes, aided by the naturally low-range gearing from its transfer case, allowing it to ascend steep sandy grades with ease. Compared to SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban, the Discovery 1’s agility and low-end grunt gave it a significant advantage in desert and beach environments.

Land Rover Discovery 1 offroading river crossing

Snow

The Land Rover Discovery 1 handled snow exceptionally well compared to other 90s SUVs thanks to its permanent 4WD system, ample ground clearance, and locking center differential. Unlike more crude 4WD systems of the time that had to be engaged manually, the Discovery’s 4WD worked constantly to allocate torque when needed for maximum traction.

The high clearance meant the Discovery 1 wasn’t as likely to get stuck in deep snow as lower-slung SUVs. And its locking diff gave it the traction to keep moving where open diffs would allow wheelspin. This gave the Discovery 1 a huge advantage over SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee when tackling unplowed roads, snowy trails, or alpine passes.

Land Rover Discovery 1 overland build with steel bumper and hella driving lights

Build Background

As weekend adventure enthusiasts, Davin and Amy Stephens from Utah were searching for an alternative to their large Ford F350 Powerstroke with a camper, which was overly big for the outdoor activities they enjoyed. One day, they came across a black 1994 lifted Land Rover Discovery on 35-inch tires in their local classifieds. This more compact and capable off-roader soon ended up in the Stephens’ own garage as their new vehicle for weekend getaways.

See Also
Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Overland SUV on 40s

Ford F350 Powerstroke with a Camper
Their old F350 Camper

The Land Rover has been affectionately nicknamed Bruce by the Stephens. It was previously built up by the president of the Las Vegas off-road club as his own vehicle. As such, it was already fully modified with many of the off-road upgrades that Davin had been planning to make to a Land Rover Discovery himself.

Bruce is powered by a 3.9L V8 engine. A 4″ Fox coil-over suspension lift provides clearance for the KMC off-road rims with beadlock rings wrapped in 35″ Dynastar Pro tires. Other exterior modifications include a full-length roof rack, ladder, fender flares, skid plates (with front and rear diff plates), custom front and rear bumpers, and rock sliders. For increased traction in difficult situations, this Discovery has front and rear air lockers as well as a center locking differential.

Bruce “The Rover” can lock up and crawl like a champ.

says Davin

Six HID lights across the roof rack and three Hella lights across the front bumper help illuminate the path in the dark, while the CB radio is always ready for trail communication.

First generation Land Rover Discovery overland expedition

One of the best things about Bruce for Davin and Amy is that he can handle long, overland-style trips, but also tackle technical trails on quick weekend trips to Moab.

We love Bruce because he gets us where we need to go, no matter where that may be. Whether it’s the grocery store or the deep backcountry of Escalante, Utah.

Davin Stephens
Land Rover Discovery interior - first generation

With all the upgrades already installed on this lifted Land Rover Discovery, there is still room for improvement. A 10,000lb winch is on the way, and new sway bars are next on the list. To make overlanding more convenient, Davin and Amy also plan to install a rooftop tent and build some storage with a small kitchenette in the cargo area.

How we test?

Offroadium Verdict & Score Explained

To help our visitors find off-road vehicle builds that match their specific goals, budgets, and needs, we have created our own rating and classification system to evaluate and differentiate the vehicles showcased on our site. Based on it, we can conclude the following:

Off-Road Capability Score: 55/70

With its rugged body-on-frame construction, upgraded suspension, 35″ tires, front and rear locking differentials, low range transfer case, and ample protection upgrades, Bruce achieves an excellent off-road capability score of 65 out of 70, but due to the reliability issues reported by the owner, we have to subtract 10 points which results in 55 points overall. This lifted Discovery has been optimized for traversing difficult terrain, evidenced by the components selected and its performance tackling some serious trails. While additional sway bars and a winch are still planned, the current build allows Bruce to drive places most other SUVs can’t access – living up to Land Rover’s renown expedition legacy.

Complexity Level: Advanced

The 4” suspension lift, locking differentials, 35” tires, custom bumpers, sliders, and other upgrades qualify Bruce as an Advanced build under our classification system. While extensive, most modifications utilize bolt-on components versus complex custom fabrication. This provides greatly enhanced off-road performance while retaining serviceability.

Land Rover Discovery 1 4 door with oversized 35 inch tires, steel bumpers and air lockers

Budget: $$$

With quality equipment like Fox coil-overs, Dynastar tires, steel bumpers and rock sliders, we estimate around $15-20k has been invested in parts and labor on Bruce by the original owner. Two decades down the road, similar parts for this vehicle may be found at a lower cost in local classified/ebay/forums, so we decided to give it 3 out of 5 $ rating. This Discovery demonstrates how iconic capability can be attained on a reasonable budget by leveraging the Land Rover’s inherent competency.

Pros

  • Legendary reliability and durability for going anywhere off-road
  • The last Land Cruiser with 3 standard locking differentials

Cons

  • Poor fuel economy, especially when loaded down for expedition use
  • Can be expensive to purchase and maintain

Davin wants to thank his friend Tom, who hails from England and knows everything needed to keep Bruce in top shape. And Amy, for always being patient as they work out Bruce’s little kinks.

Overland project Land Rover Discovery
View Comments (3)
  • I remember reading stories about a Land Rover Camel trophy in the car magazines when Disco came out. It was bright yellow with some grille guards, winches and roof racks. Not sure if they were even lifted, but they were absolutely non stopable in African Desert.

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