1991 Land Rover Defender 90

1991 Land Rover Defender 90


Status: Sold to Chris W. of Sierra Vista, AZ
Manufactured: Great Britain
Imported: Italy
Engine: 200Tdi Turbo Diesel
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual

The Defender slid out of town around dusk, pointing northeast, craving dirt and gravel. Bakeries and gas stations gave way to pastures and fence lines. With each gearshift and planting of my right foot, the truck surged onward as the turbo fed the 200Tdi diesel. It didn’t take long before ambient voices were replaced by the chatter of cattle. It might be cold here now; Thanksgiving brought with it temperatures dipping into the ‘20s here in Marshall. But with a dying sun, gently grazing cows, and only the noise of my shutter snapping away, tonight wasn’t terrible. No, not terrible at all.

This Land Rover Defender 90 was imported from Italy and found its way into the hands of a local farrier here in Virginia. It’s said to be a former Italian Police vehicle. While there’s no documentation to substantiate that, if it’s true, this one sure has found a quiet retirement here in the States. The hard top is long gone, replaced by the khaki-colored canvas roof that allows the truck to go topless. Crank windows have been replaced by power units. And the pièce de résistance? Air Conditioning. Yup. Air Conditioning in a convertible Defender. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve officially seen everything. You can go home now.

Configured to seat three across the front, the truck carried only myself and the camera bag as we ventured further away from town, snapping photos alongside the road, occasionally moving and waving as locals slid by. As dusk fell, traffic ceased and it became clear the road to nowhere wasn’t quite: The noise of the highway started to get louder in the distance. “Nope. Not doing that,” I thought, instead taking a hard right into a cornfield. It’s late enough in the season now that everything is harvested. The short corn stalks standing out of the ground were surrounded by the half-eaten cobbs that keep the white-tailed deer fat and happy. The Defender’s headlights caught mud on the ground, and hungry for an opportunity to put the Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs to work, I put the truck in low range, locking the center differential, and slid forward into the muck. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I thought. “I have a winch.” (Note to self: That doesn’t do you any good in a cornfield. Fortunately, that didn’t become an issue).

The Defender’s beams cast a long light over the half-chopped stalks, the truck standing proud but out of place in the sea of yellow. We moved around a bit to snap a few different shots before heading back for the road. I was sure to go through the mud once more on the way out. For science.

On the way back I stopped for a coffee in town to warm up. As I waited inside, two kids snapped cell phone shots of the Defender. Maybe for Instagram (man… they beat me…), or maybe for their own enjoyment. But watching them reminded me of how I first looked at these trucks. They’re strong, alien, purposeful, familiar, chunky, brutish, and romantic all at once. Almost makes you want to roll the soft top up, blast the Air Conditioning, and hit the trail.

Driveline. 200Tdi four-cylinder turbo diesel mated to a five-speed transmission with high/low transfer case and manual center locking differential. Vehicle currently shows 243,971 kilometers, or 151,596 miles after my excursion in the mud this evening. Transmission is tight and shifts up and down the range without grinding, while transfer case also engages low range and differential lock. Truck has a knob under the passenger seat box for engaging the rear-facing PTO on the transfer case. Recent servicing (November 2018) includes a fresh turbo rebuild, new brake and clutch master cylinders, rear shock bushings, new gas tank, new brake cylinders, as well as rotors and pads at all four corners. Additionally, the truck has a new lift (fuel) pump, fresh filters, wheel bearings, and turn signal stalk.

Exterior. The truck is clad in Arles Blue with a new khaki-colored canvas roof. Paint and canvas both present nicely; no tears or wearing in the roof. Bulkhead, floors, rear crossmember, chassis, and outriggers are all nicely rust-free. Wolf-style 16” wheels are wrapped in 235/85/16 Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires. Front bumper has a large winch (brand unknown) and an aftermarket grill with inset fog lights. Tail lights and signals have guards over them to protect the plastic housings, and the snorkel ensures the engine will still be breathing long after the water comes through the canvas roof and drowns the driver. Fender wings are protected with plating, and side-rails offer a leg-up for getting into the truck.

Interior. The original three black vinyl seats across the front are clean and intact. Truck is fitted with an under-dash air conditioner, while fresh vinyl covers the floors. Rear cargo area is currently covered in durable diamond plating for work. Dash top and center are in good shape, while the end caps near HVAC controls show signs of wear from use. Heat fills the cabin nicely once the engine is warm. Crank windows have been replaced with power windows; controls are located on the dash to the right of the steering wheel.

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