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Freelander – Custom Light Bar Roof Rack

3 min read

Between motorsport marshalling and responding with NW4x4 response, I occasionally find myself in potentially hazardous positions. Typically around moving vehicles in the dusk of outright pitch black. This risk can be readily removed by being more visible. So I figured it might be time for a light bar and rack on the Freelander.

What sort of lightbar/beacon?

From experience with blue light installations, I already knew which lightbar I wanted, the Optic Max from RVL. This lightbar provides the best brightness to weight ratio while being rated for what I intend to use it for. It is designed to be directly roof-mounted, but I was not too fond of the idea of drilling holes in the car. A custom rack or roof bars seemed like the best solution.

The initial design concept was to replicate the shape and dimensions of the Freelander2 options roof rails. This design allows the use of the existing holes in the bodywork to secure the rack. First, I took some measurements from which I made up a jig to get the holes aligned.

Fabricating some brackets

Roof bar parallels for the existing Freelander body mounts
Roof bar parallels for the existing Freelander body mounts

Some welding and grinding later, and I thought it was the job done! How wrong I was. A multitude of problems entailed. The holes in the body had different spacing on the left and right of the car. I suspect poor manufacturing. This alignment issue means the rails are not parallel to each other or the body. Que a speedy redesign.

Adjustable attachment points, just add hammer
Adjustable attachment points. Just add a hammer.

Final Design and Installation

The final Freelander light bar rack design was less pretty but significantly more flexible and robust. Unfortunately, by the time I was finishing off the crossbars, I’d run out of base coat, so some decent primer will have to do for now.

Lightbar rack primed and ready to go
Lightbar rack primed and ready to go.

I wonder if the final positioning of the light bar on the car is a bit low. I may need to install risers for greater visibility from behind. Unfortunately, Motorsport is cancelled, and lockdown means I’ve not driven very far from day to day.

Lightbar rack finished and installed
Lightbar rack finished and installed

After a few test drives and the odd active deployment of the lights, this lightbar rack does work well. Beyond being securely fixed to the vehicle, there are no rattles and little wind noise! Obviously, the Freelander2 top speed isn’t great, but I’m pretty confident they won’t fall off.

M


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