Overland Project's Story

I started Overland Projects back in 2011 with my first comprehensive rebuilding of a Range Rover Classic... but, my love for vintage off-road vehicles started with the very first car I owned. When I  was 17 I bought a 1968 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 for $1600.00. It didn’t have A/C or seat belts, no head rests or floor mats. I used leaded gas when I couldn't afford the “expensive” .99¢ unleaded gas. The old drum brakes worked when they wanted to and I had a used Weber carburetor that needed more attention than a new born baby. I had a few 4x4s after that one. Unfortunately that Land Cruiser went up in a blaze of glory... I rebuilt the engine without checking or changing the oil pump. When that oil pump failed, I ended up throwing a rod driving home from Mt. High Ski Resort. The broken piston rod burst through the side of the engine block and somehow the oil caught fire. You can replace an engine but once your car catches fire - it’s much harder to repair all the damage… (You’ll never forget the shock and sound of an engine throwing a rod.) Hard lessons about being thorough... 

After that TLC I saved and got an old Ford 4x4, then an Isuzu Trooper, a Jeep (I had for 6 months. Hated it.) and then a Toyota Tacoma 4x4. I eventually graduated to a Defender 90 in my late 20s. I drove the hell out of that thing. I'd drive that D-90 on 7 hour long trips to my annual group camping trips in Yosemite, backpacking in the Sierras and so many camping trips along the long California Coastline . It was my daily driver for years, but also - it was just a small joy of mine... I developed such an appreciation for this era of vehicles that were obviously built more for utility than 'industry safety standards' and regulations - so when I was able to finally buy one that I could restore I realized that there was more to do to these vehicles than to just clean 'em up and put them back together. I didn’t just want to ‘restore’ an old vehicle, I wanted to re-tell a new story. A story about how it was made for something beyond just transportation. 

There's some observations I realized early on during this time. I grew up in the age of the shop-class muscle cars. All of my friends had some type of project car going on. These were not just out of love for 'the machine', these projects were also the only way we could afford a car. You bought something barely running and you made it ‘yours’… from Baja Bugs to Nova Super Bees to old 'mudder Blazers’; you’d see it all. In those days you could build something fairly cheap. Pick-a-parts were abundant but time was even more abundant. Emission standards weren't so crazy so there was freedom to experiment and learn as you go.

What I realized back then - was the guys that had the real know-how and the money to restore a car did it in one of two ways; they did it all original, down to the OEM gaskets... Or they did something flashy and tasteless that often looked like a bumper car you'd see at an amusement park. There were some solid ideas in-between but you could see those two examples at any car show… We'd often make a joke saying. "is it made to go?"...

The hard reality is that you wouldn't hire the same guy to build your dream house to also design and decorate that house. Its more often than not, two very different types of people... You would hire one person to build your house, (that mostly likely is drinking a Natural Light on his lunch break) but theres no way in hell you were going to have that same guy decorate the house he was building. The builder is a craftsman for sure! More power to them - but designing the house, decorating the house… thats usually a different eye, different priorities! Yet… in the car world, this “same builder/same designer” was/is the norm. (put a pin in that story for a second...)

While this is going on... there is an underlying aspect to my life that has given me an advantage (I believe this about my generation, more than any other generation before me or after me). In my generation there was constant change that we lived in. 

I grew up before microwave ovens were common. I grew up when rockets turned to space shuttles... In Junior High, all the older high-school kids started getting pagers... When I got to high-school, my senior year, we were told we had to take a new class about something called "The World Wide Web". In high-school our research was done in libraries... often times using microfilms of old newspaper articles for references that we had to cite in an appendix of a “works cited list”. Our reports were done on typewriters. If you could afford an electric typewriter that didn't require white-out, you were lucky.   

By the time I got to college, we wrote reports on computers using a type of code to open programs called "DOS"... My first "graphic design classes" were with type copy blocking and ink presses. In my computer graphics courses, we had to learn 8 different software types because no one knew which was going to be the industry standard. If you took a photo it would be days if not weeks before you saw your roll of film that you had to drop off at a photo lab. Personal cellular-phones became a thing in my 20's... Alphanumeric texting and shorthand "LOL" became easier rather writing out "that is funny" using the 9 keys on a phone face... "84428044477770333886666999"... alphanumeric texting was no joke. 

Enter in smart phones in my late 20s and digital cameras were more the norm boasting 1-2 megapixels! A new THRIVING internet world was forming... Social media, cloud storage... this funny thing called "Google" that was going public... I was also apart of a beta test for something call “g-mail” back then… The world was exploding with new ideas!

My point in all that background is this; I came up in a generation of constant change and adaptation. It hasn't ended for me. Because of that I don't approach obstacles like roadblocks, I approach them as opportunities for innovation... That's what makes me different in builds. I adapt but with a careful editing eye. 

Back to that "pinned subject" - My background is in clothing design and I worked as a Creative Director for a good part of my professional career. So when I begin a build... I look at the vehicle holistically, I look at at the market in general, I look at the customer its for... I look at the design and I look at the performance. I ask, what can be improved? What should be improved? And, I identify what aspects are the way they are because of the aesthetic design or is something that way because of the times/limitations of the era it was built in?... TEchnology can always be improved... But good aesthetic is timeless.   

To go back to my original critique of the restoration world... I wanted to combine great classic aesthetics with great modern performance and convenience... My goal is a modern driving vintage off-road vehicle with all the style and class and nostalgia from the eras we love. There is no better time to be alive if you have a good idea. Technology and resources to produce something great is more available today than ever before. 

My Name is Danny Blanton and I created Overland Projects to build one of a kind bespoke vehicles that become a part of your life and family.