Asking Price: $54,995 USD
Seller: Land Rovers UK
Original Selling Price: Unknown
Engine: 2500cc 4-Cylinder OHV Diesel
Max Power: 68hp
PROS: Vehicle appears to be fully restored by a mark specialist.
CONS: Vehicle requires a thorough inspection for rust and mechanical defects. If you live in the US, make sure the vehicle has been legally imported and meets regulations for all fifty states.
The Land Rover Series, or Defender as the later models are known, are very likely the most popular off-road vehicles in the world. They can be found on every continent in the world and are well known for their reliability and ability to go just about anywhere. These are terrific vehicles, but there’s a multitude of factors to consider when looking at purchasing one. And this is why we have chosen this vehicle as our latest review.
This particular Land Rover is a 1987 Defender 90, the “90” referring to its 90-inch wheelbase. In 1987, they were also available in a 110-inch wheel base. This vehicle is being offered by Land Rovers UK and is currently located in England for import to the United States. The listing describes and shows this Land Rover Defender to be totally restored inside and out to a very high standard. Obviously, we have not seen this vehicle in person, so we can’t speak to the quality of work done, but we do several red flags that require scrutinization.
The first red flag that caught our attention is that the vehicle is a 1987 and was never intended for sale in the US because it would not meet regulations. This is still true to this day, and 90% of Land Rovers on US soil are here illegally and subject to impoundment. Clearly, this is not an issue if you live in Europe. Land Rover stopped importing these vehicles to the States in 1974, but did produce a short run of Defenders which were imported in 1994, 1995, and 1997. If the vehicle falls outside of these year ranges, it will have to pass a vigorous testing and inspection process before it achieves legal status. This can be a very long and expensive process. It’s possible, but typically avoided due to the time and money required. When buying this vehicle, or any other for that matter, ask to see all the paperwork and verify the car is legal in all fifty states. Just because it’s registered and legal in one state, doesn’t mean it is in the next.
When these Land Rovers are sold new in the UK they are typically used as work vehicles. This means that many have had a rough life, and will show it on an inspection. Don’t just look at the nice, shiny paint; get the vehicle on a lift and take a good, hard look at the entirety of the suspension, body, and frame. Keep in mind the frames are known to commonly rust. If you see any rust on or repairs to the frame, it’s best to back away from the sale immediately. The bodies are also prone to rust, so take a close look, especially in the floors and sill areas. If something doesn’t seem right, just walk away. There’s plenty of fish in the sea of Land Rovers, and with a little patience, the right one will come along.
With the sheer number of Rovers produced, along with their worldwide popularity, the supply of spare parts is fantastic. Just about anything you could ever need is available. Sometime, the parts can be a little pricey but at least they’re available.
During your inspection, pay close attention to the front hubs to make sure they don’t look worn and are not leaking oil. It’s common to see worn front hubs, and they can be awfully expensive to repair. Also, give the car a good test drive. Remember that these are loud vehicles and it’s common to hear gear and road noise, but use your common sense. If something feels truly wrong or the gears are making a lot of noise, chances are something is amiss. The drivetrains are super strong and typically don’t fail, but when they do, the result is a costly repair.
These are great vehicles of which I’m a huge fan,but if the car sounds too good to be true, it typically is. Pay very close attention to rust, especially in the frame. If you live in the states, make sure the vehicle is legal and includes all the supporting documentation to prove it. Again, we have not seen this vehicle in person, but do use this as a general guide on what to look for.
Happy motoring and hope to see you on the road! Remember to visit us at British Car Classifieds – the global online marketplace dedicated exclusively to buying and selling British automobiles.