Handbrake lever conversion

Written by Alan on 20/09/2012. Posted in Vehicle modifications


All Defender drivers know that the position of the handbrake lever is not exactly ideal. There is a continual reminder of its presence digging into your left calf muscle. In addition it seems a long way down to reach for. This is most problematic when doing a hill start because it seems that this is the most likely time for your seatbelt to lock up preventing you from leaning forward. To help with this problem I decided to carry out a popular modification found elswhere on the internet, fitting a lever from a classic Range Rover.

 Handbrake 1

I managed to get a second hand lever from good old Ebay for about £15. The ideal place to position it is entirely up to you. I found that using the front RH bolt hole for the centre seat lines up perfectly with the front mounting hole of the new lever. Obviously if you want to keep your centre seat you will not be able to do this conversion. With this bolt in place you can swing the rear of the lever mounting plate to achieve a good position and then mark the other holes.

You can see the relative positions of the two levers in this picture.

Handbrake 2

To remove the old lever you simply disconnect the cable by removing the split pin and the pin through the end of the cable. You will need to make sure the wheels are chocked and the brake released to take off the tension. Push the cable through the hole in the seat box, remove the old lever and blank off the holes with an aluminium plate.

Handbrake 3

The cable is held in place by a rubber grommet which you will need to keep. To allow you to connect it to the new lever you may need to back off the adjuster on the brake drum to give some more slack in the cable.

Handbrake 4

With the holes marked and drilled, a grommet fitted for the brake indicator light switch cable ………………..

Handbrake 5

………… the new lever is bolted in place. You can then push the cable through the hole along with the rubber grommet and attach it to the lever using the cable pin and a new split pin if required. Re-adjust the cable tension at the brake drum and check its operation.

Handbrake 6

The original rubber gaitor fits nicely over the new lever. You can fix it in place but I found it wasn’t necessary.

Handbrake 7

It has been said by some that a strengthening plate is needed underneath the lever but I have not found this. After many weeks of use there is no distortion in the seat box and it still feels solid. I now have much more room in the footwell and the handbrake is now within easy reach.

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