Twist Off

Grand Junction, CO to Moab, UT
Photos by Nathan Hindman

In 1999, on the fledgling D-90 mailing list, there was considerable discussion over the merits of the various suspension systems available for the Land Rover Defender. In order to qualitatively measure these suspensions, a weekend of testing was arranged where representative vehicles from Rock Ware, Desert Rover and Safari Gard (both Stage II and Stage III) as well as a stock “control” vehicle, an experimental coilover D90 and an Old Man Emu suspension equipped D90 would all be tested in a variety of categories including RTI, road driving and off road performance.

The on road and performance testing was done primarily by New Mexico State University engineering professor Rich Hall, Jim Allen and Bill Burke. Afterwords, each vehicle owner took their trucks and drove a series of controlled obstacles in the infamous 21 Road trail outside of Fruita.

During the testing stage, the Safari Gard Stage II suffered a mechanical failure during heavy braking (on an experimental 3-link set up), which caused the vehicle to roll over during the on-road test. Despite the superior off-road performance of the Safari Gard vehicles and Chris HInkle’s D90, the on-road driving manners and stability of the more mild configurations won out. Final results of the Twist-Off were as follows (out of a possible 1,000 points):

1st Place – RockWare 949 points
2nd Place – Desert Rover 947 points
3rd Place – OME Suspension 894 points
4th Place – Chris Hinkle’s D90 880 points

After the event, all of the spectators as well as competitors drove by backcountry roads to Moab. The group of Rovers then spent the next few days running the various trails around Moab.

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