A few weeks back, I wrote about how a cheap Harbor Freight polisher was one of the best items I’ve ever bought, and how it proved to be a budget game-changer for my 1997 Land Rover Discovery project. This time, I spent way too much money on a simple hood decal. But that’s OK; I did an additional visual upgrade that didn’t cost me anything, and it made an immense difference in my Discovery’s appearance: a bumper cover cut, or removing the lower part of the stock bumper to give it a more off-road-capable appearance.

That’ll do. Image: Peter Nelson

OEM JLR Parts Prices Are Rough

I’ve noted in previous blogs that parts prices for Land Rovers haven’t been too bad, but that’s because I haven’t been sourcing truly genuine Land Rover-branded stuff. I realized that the genuine route is spendy, just like the rest of manufacturers’ parts across the Atlantic. Oy vey, a full $60 for a stupid decal? It seems dumb, but alas, there are no acceptable cheap knockoffs.

At least the remnants of the factory-applied decal still had a slight outline of where it once sat, so I used that as a reference point, and it turned out good enough for me. The new letters aren’t perfectly straight, but who can tell from more than a foot away?

I think it looks a lot better, and now the whole world won’t mistake this luxurious tractor as anything else (well, they probably wouldn’t have pre-decal, either.) Who knew a simple hood decal could do so much for an old Discovery?

Next up: improving the front-end’s looks continues with some mild bumper cover modification.

Image: Peter Nelson

The Expedition Cut

I’m not sure if this is the name for this kind of bumper cover cut. But it sounds cool, so that’s what I’ll use.

The before pic. Image: Peter Nelson

Essentially what I did here was completely remove the center bumper cover section, ostensibly to improve approach angle, but mostly to clean up the look of the front-end. Then, I cut the bumper cover winglets on either side to even everything out. This is, in fact, a fairly common modification for Discoverys of this era. While perusing modified Discos on the world wide web, I came to the conclusion that it would look a lot better without the center section. My Editor Andrew Collins did this to his Landy back in the day, too, and agrees.

Safety First! Image: Peter Nelson

Like performing any kind of work on the rest of this old heap, removing the winglets was easy. First: pull the front turn signals off via their hand-grenade-pin-looking springs. Well, you don’t have to do this, but it lets more light in. Then remove the several screws holding the winglets on from the wheel well, as well as the center section. Finally, remove the side marker light bulbs. The center section unbolts easily via a few 12mm nuts.

Now with two freed winglets, it’s easy to see where they ought to be cut. The pictured lower line is clear as day and easy to follow with an X-Acto knife, scissors, or Dremel tool. I chose the latter with a simple cutting wheel, mine’s been a faithful member of my tool shelf for a few years now.

Sliced! Image: Peter Nelson

I should’ve done this pre-Radwood NorCal as it was incredibly easy, but meh, it’ll look better for Radwood SoCal in November.

The cutting was quite easy to do, though my line left much to be desired. I swapped the cutting wheel for a wire brush attachment and cleaned up my work a bit. Afterward, it looked much more safari-ready.

Much better! Image: Peter Nelson

Ready For, You Know, Discovery

After doing the reverse of removal, I took a step back and admired my work. The Expedition Cut looks much better; it adds more of an off-road-ready look, and should improve its off-road capability, too. This will surely improve my approach angle a tad, too; removing stuff that could snag and scrape on the terra firma.

I know the center section is in place to improve fuel economy and water dispersion. But I don’t ever see myself wading in this beast, and I’ve already had the honor of experiencing 13-15 mpg on the highway, so surely this won’t significantly reduce these figures. I’m thinking it’ll aid cooling, too: more air running under and alongside the oil pan, and potentially more air extraction from underneath.

Most importantly, however, it just looks cool. Discos look best raised up a touch with big clearances and little overhang, and this simple mod did a lot for that. I’m thinking the next visual and off-road improvement will be a two-inch lift, too.