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2003 Discovery restoration story


Freshman Member
>> Hey Rick;
>> Yes, successfully loaded and on the road.
> Thank you. I will add the truck to my insurance...

...and that's the way it began. Here's the story, to date.

Friday, 7pm Houston time: It has arrived! The driver connected the battery and it started right up. I drove the truck into my driveway for the night, and disconnected the battery again (improperly installed aftermarket radio). Had a bit of a time getting the key out, but finally succeeded. The 'push in to turn' mechanism is kinda gummy.

Saturday, 7:30am: A squirt of WD40 in around the lock barrel perimeter let the key barrel move freely. A small blast of graphite lock lube into the keyway completed the first repair. All works smoothly now.
I began cleaning the interior starting from up high and working my way down. I cleaned all the plastic with Simple Green, then followed it with Maguire's Interior Cleaner and Finish. No shine but clean. I got as far as the upper console and cleaned the edges, cup holders, knobs and buttons of the lower console. More there to go, plus some new shifter and handbrake 'boots'. I'll make those myself from bulk vinyl.
I also cleaned the driver's carpet, foot pad, and pedals. Simple Green works great there - even on carpet. Only driver's side carpet is done, so far.
Next up, I brushed away dust from both front seats then liberally applied Leatherique's Pristine Clean. And that's where this session's work ended, on the inside.
I next washed the undercarrage with the high pressure water hose. My goal was to clean out the wheelwells and flush dirt away from any accessible suspension bits. The local car wash will clean the rest of the undercarrage, to complete the job. That work is for later.
My local carwash has a lady who does a great job of polishing away the haze from the headlight lenses, for a fee of course. That job too is in the queue.
The truck is sitting in the sun now enjoying it's Pristine Clean. I just wanted to clean the leather's surface first, since it was pretty dirty. I ended up with a lot of dirty towels.
I haven't touched the back seats yet. I did test the radio. It works but it is wired wrong. I believe it is leaving an aftermarket amplifier on continuously. Both will come out.

Saturday 12:30pm: A thunderstorm is coming. The temperature has dropped 10°-15°, and lots of refreshing wind. Soooo...
Out I went with a quart of Leatherique's Rejuvenator in hand. 20 minutes later, all seats, front and rear, were done with treatment number one. They look GREAT already! I'll do a good wipe down tomorrow morning, followed by another application of Rejuvenator. And before it gets too hot out, I'll vacuum all the carpets and shampoo any spots that need attention.
I have looked in the cargo area but haven't done anything back there other than wiping down the plastic bits.
The wheels look good, needing only a good cleaning. I was afraid they were chewed up but no, they look great. They are 16" diameter. This is even more evidence of a 2003 truck built on the cusp of a design facelift, using up parts from the previous design's parts bins.
I won't change the tires until after repainting. I have found really good tires at TireRack. I don't need offroad capability. I do require quiet tires and the Yokohama Geolanders rate really highly, including in the low noise category. TireRack has them at about $135 per tire, plus shipping.

Work for today is done. F1 qualifying from Canada is done. And I believe a nap is in order...


Freshman Member
Sunday 8:30am: Moved a few cars around so I could put the Disco in the garage. With that done I cleaned the front passenger side carpet by brushing and vacuuming, followed by a wipe down with a towel lightly moistened with Simple Green. I next cleaned the plastic sills by brushing and with more Simple Green. Once clean and dry, I used the Maguire's product on the sill.
I next cleaned the front passenger door starting at the window frame and working down. I used the Maguire's product on everything but the suede. I brushed the suede to loosen any dust then wiped it with a towel lightly moistened with Simple Green. Next came the door edges and hinges. They were just cleaned. Same with all the rubber seals. I had already cleaned the door jams so I moved on to the door glass, washing it both inside and out.
The rear passenger carpet, door, jams and window got the same treatment so I won't elaborate.
Next came the seats. They now are cleaned and have been 'fed' once again. That let me sit in the front passenger seat and wash half of the the windshield. I then washed the outside of the windshield. Back inside I realized that I hadn't cleaned the mirror, so that too was done.
The console had collected a lot of dirt so I wiped it as clean as possible first. I then washed the handbrake, shifter, and range lever. Next came the rubber mat. I sprayed Maguire's stuff liberally and let it sit while I cleaned the shifter surround. After that, a 1" chip brush with bristles cut to about 1/2" length, cleaned the rubber pad nicely, and paper towels wiped it clean. I next cleaned the rubber bit down in the surround. It is damaged so I just made it clean.
The other half of the windshield came clean easily enough.
The driver side seat leather, front and rear, got wiped clean and 'fed' once again. And that's where work stopped for the morning.


Freshman Member
Sunday 7:00pm: I'll took a few pictures to share. Here's a look in through the front passenger door. This was after leather treatment and cleaning but before final carpet shampooing.


Driver side, same story. You can see the damaged 'gators'. They will be replaced.


Here's a view of the dash, looking from the back seat. The aftermarket radio will be replaced.


Another view of the driver's side.


Here's a look at the front passenger door, after careful cleaning. The suede cleaned up nicely.


Another view.


Here's a look in to the driver's side of the cockpit.


And a look at the driver's door. The suede cleaned up okay here too.


More interior. In this picture you can see the bare metal brake pedal. The rubber pad is in the console. It will be reinstalled once its clean.


Here's a look at that aftermarket radio. It is installed incorrectly and drains the car battery. As I wrote above, it will be removed and a correct radio will be installed.


Parked back outside now. As a test, I cleaned the paint on the left side. It cleaned up quite nicely, but may still get repainted. The hood and top will require a respray. Whether these parts alone get painted, or the whole truck, is yet to be decided. All trim will get repainted black.



Freshman Member
Wednesday 7:00pm: The aftermarket radio that some PO installed is now out, and so is the battery draining load! It was wired so as to keep the sub amp on at all times, thus the drain. And the installation was ugly. The unit was held in place by wraps of electrical tape!
I have now removed all of the added-on wires, leaving lots of bare wires in the truck's harness. The new installation will use a plug adapter, plugged directly into the truck's connectors. That method will require a major clean-up of the harness wiring.
After cleaning any leftover tape 'goo' from the wires and insulation, I will arrange each wire nicely straight and with all wire strands 'tucked' back parallel. I'll then paint the wire and surrounding insulation with liquid rubber insulation. This method is quicker and safer than taping. That's it for today.


Freshman Member
New parts have arrived; Kenwood radio, plug adapters, facia finisher. Tomorrow morning I will wire the D2 plug adapter to the radio harness. That's it. Useless update.


Freshman Member
Tuesday 5:30am: The new radio is in and it sounds as good as it looks. New front hubs go on this morning. Tires ordered. Oil pan gasket ordered so the rod bearing cap bolts can be re-torqued on the new bearings. Off for a paint quote after the mechanic work is finished.


Freshman Member
I write today to share an update on my '03 Discovery II restoration. In a word, its great. In quite a few words, here is the update.

1. Cleanup done on the inside. Everything washed clean with Simple Green, carpets swept and vacuumed, and leather 'fed' with Leatherique Rejuvenator.

2. Repairs done to the dash, including replacing the poorly done aftermarket radio with a new, properly installed unit. Sounds great and looks great.

3. Sagging headliner around front skylight to be repaired tomorrow (when its dry out and humidity is a bit lower).

4. New leather gaiters on order to replace the worn and damaged vinyl on the shifter, H-L selector, and handbrake.

5. Manual lock yet to be repaired in driver door, then reinstall panel with new vapor barrier.

6. Right front hub replaced correcting the failed ABS, Traction Control, and Descent Control, and thereby extinguishing "The Three Amigos'.

7. Engine oil and filter changed to thinner 5W30 oil to effectively 'wash' the inside of the engine. Rod bearing caps are to be re-torqued on the new bearings, then the sump refilled with Castrol GTX 20W50 oil.

8. Five new tires due to arrive tomorrow. Yokohama Geolander h/t in 255/65R16 chosen for their superior dry/wet traction and low highway noise.

9. New front bumper cover in hand and ready to install.

10. Cloudy headlight 'glass' (plastic) to be polished clean, probably today.

11. Off to paint shop next week.


Freshman Member
Thursday 6:45pm: Today I took the Land Rover to my favorite shop to have the headlights refinished. Here's how one looked before the process began.


My guys went after the oxidation and pitting with the rotary sander!



Here's how it looked with all the trash cut away.


And after final polishing! Sweet!


I'm now starting work on the bonnet. Someone before the PO sprayed clearcoat over the old paint's clearcoat, and that's what's discolored and pealing away. I'm going to color-sand it to see if I can cut through the damaged topcoat, then polish to an 'acceptable' level. If that fails, it will get painted. It costs nearly nothing to try.


Staff member
Country flag
Quite a fun project you have going there. It's looking really good, I've heard that these are excellent vehicles but am cautious of the horror stories you hear about the reliability and repair bills...


Freshman Member
Friday 6:25pm: I write today to share a few pictures. No big surprise there. Here's how my 2003 Land Rover Discovery looked yesterday as it headed to the paint shop.


As I wrote earlier, I took the truck for a paint and body quote yesterday, and liked what I heard. To meet a tight timetable, I left the vehicle with them and bummed a ride home. This afternoon I drove back over to check on progress and to snap a few pictures. Here they are.
First up, is a picture of the bonnet from the right front view.


The surface has had its rough prep, except for around the logo letters. The letters will be removed and the whole surface will be prepped. After a bit more prep, the whole body will be sprayed with sealer that provides an isolating base between the primer and subsequent coats of base and clear.
Here's a view from the front again, and down the driver's side.


The slight impact on the driver's door has been pulled out to as close to flat as possible, then the aluminum is finished with a skim of filler. Here's a better look.


The same process was applied to the left rear quarter where there was a scrape in the paint and an associated crease in the metal. Here's how it now looks.


In other news, the replacement headlight pod arrived today and its quite nice. It needs a bit of cleaning but the pod is still sealed so its clean inside, unlike the original. The plastic lens is adequately shiny.


Freshman Member
Thursday, about noon: The spare tire carrier, license carrier, and wiper/washer have been removed and the panel is being prepped for sealer, primer, and paint.


Here's the bigger picture of work-in-progress on the rear hatch.


Further down the left side, work is progressing nicely.


The worker is doing a careful job of sanding the panels, from the truck's perspective. He didn't want in the picture so he chose to sand with his back to me. Perhaps that's because he was working with no dust mask or eye protection...or maybe he was just stupid.
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