1994 Land Rover Defender 90
1994 Land Rover Defender 90
Status: Sold to Brad M. of Birmingham, AL
Manufactured: Great Britain
Imported: Calamocha, Spain
Engine: 300Tdi Turbo Diesel
Transmission: R380 5-Speed Manual
We agreed to meet for lunch. I hopped in my (borrowed) 2016 Defender 90 Adventure Edition, and began the three hour trip to the restaurant. Sergio did the same, though while I was charging North, he was motoring west in his three-door Defender 110. Where, pray tell, do two people loaded in trucks capable of conquering natures greatest obstacles decide to meet?
Restaurante Jose Luis in downtown Madrid is real swanky. I sipped an Estrella and snacked on Jamon and Manchengo while I waited for Sergio to arrive, embarrassed that my boots still had mud – and probably worse – on the bottom. C’est la vie. Sergio owns and runs Tierra Safari (www.tierrasafari.com) a beautifully executed Spanish tour company. With Sergio you’ll drive classic cars around Spain as you visit and learn about wineries, jamón, and a host of other Spanish specialties. At night the food piles high and the wine flows before you fall asleep in comfort. It is adventure touring meets white-glove, and it’s awesome. Sadly we didn’t have enough time this trip to take a trip with Sergio, so a lunch in Madrid’s center would need to suffice.
Sergio explained his love affair with the Land Rover started decades ago. Through years of driving, touring, and exploring he’d made friends, bought trucks, and lived life to it’s fullest. Tierra Safari is the realization of a long-time dream then; to share his love affair with Spain and the outdoors with others, all wrapped around a Land Rover package. (Note: Playing with classic cars isn’t the worst job in the world. You meet some pretty rad people).
Today Sergio has his three-door Defender 110 (“The Colonel”) and a gorgeous Defender 90 Heritage. Before those though, he had this 1994 Land Rover Defender 90. To be able to offer one of Sergio’s old trucks is a treat. This 300Tdi Defender 90 is our first factory 300Tdi through the shop, as 2019 is the first year they’re finally eligible for import. The frame is beautifully rust free and the drivetrain was well maintained, making this just an awesome little truck. Before exporting it we asked Sergio, “Would you help us doing the timing belt, water pump, and clutch?” To which he replied, “Why? They were just done.” Ah. That’s a beautiful thing.
Those of you playing the home game will remember a Coniston Green Defender 110 Station Wagon we posted a single photo of a few weeks ago. That too, comes from Sergio (Yes, we’ve become Tierra Safari fan-boys. Deal with it). It will be restored in Portugal before coming back. Look for that later this year.
In the meantime, this 300Tdi truck is plucky, reliable, dry as the day is long, and just plain fun. Dents? Yup. Scratches? You bet. It means you can conquer trail and parking lot alike without worry. Hell; just push those carts out of your way with the truck itself. This is a Defender, after all. Let South Beach keep the Maserati’s; you’ll look good cruising in this thing down some quiet country roads, and that’s just fine.
Driveline. The 2.5 liter 300Tdi turbo diesel and R380 5-speed transmission are strong, firing to life easily right at the port and chewing through the dirt and mud Tom and I decided it needed to experience here in Virginia. A small amount of power steering fluid is evident around the pump, but the underside is otherwise clean and dry. Outer tie rods are strong, while a small bit of play is evident in the inner steering bushing. Gauges and electrical components all work. A quick shift into second will elicit a small scratching on occasion; the synchro may be going, though under normal driving it’s not evident (e.g., no rapid shifting). Truck has a high-low transfer case, with a center locking differential. For you preppers out there, this truck is the mechanically controlled injection system, not the later electrically controlled setup. You can now go anywhere both now and after the EMPocalypse. Truck has 214,262 miles on the 25 year old diesel.
Exterior. Coniston green paint presents beautifully (my opinion) under the original Defender graphics and the bumps and scratches from a life well lived. Despite the exterior character, the paint shows nicely, the bulkheads and floors are extremely clean, and the frame itself had a few people at the shop wondering if it had been replaced. It is very dry. If there is rust hiding on this truck, we haven’t found it, so bring your flashlight when you come to take a look. The four wheels on the truck are 16” steelies painted black, with some of the old white poking through. The 5th spare is a Rostyle steelie painted black. The truck is clad in 5x nearly-new 235/85/16 Cooper Discoverer tires.
Interior. Interior is largely stock. The original upholstery remains on the rear opposed-facing bench seats, though the front seats have been replaced with those from an early ‘90s Defender (I have this pattern on my ’91 Defender). The front seats feel almost new, with strong side bolster support. A tach has not been added to this truck, so the left most gauge binnacle remains unused. A headliner is present in the front half of the truck, while the rear cargo area is open to the aluminum ceiling. There is also almost certainly some mud still on this truck from our little excursion here in Virginia, which is fitting. We put Tierra Safari and Commonwealth Classics stickers in the rear window, so it’s only appropriate a little Spanish and Virginia soil get mixed together.
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