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Land Rover Defender: Buying guide and review (1991-2016)

Land Rover Defender: Buying guide and review (1991-2016) Classic and Performance Car
Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide
The Land Rover Defender is the modern incarnation of the classic rugged utilitarian vehicle that made the company what it is today. While the Defender as we know it was launched in 1991, it was just an evolution of the original Land Rover – with lineage stretching back as far as 1948. When the final Defender rolled off the line in 2016, it genuinely was the end of an era. 
 
For now, the Land Rover Defender remains without a rugged utilitarian replacement from Land Rover, which means demand for the Defender remains particularly high. It’s easy to fall for the simple charms of a Defender, too. Look at one objectively, and it’s slow, noisy, uncomfortable and extremely cramped – but it’s all these things that somehow make it such an event each time you set off down the road.
 
Which one to buy? 
 
The Defender model was introduced in 1991 and was similar to the outgoing Ninety and One Ten, but powered by the new 200Tdi engine. The Tdi motor was based around the old 2.5-litre turbo with a new aluminium cylinder head, turbo, intercooler and direct injection fuelling. 
 
The later 300Tdi engine was similar. The Defenders were known by their wheelbases of 90 and 110, and the 127-inch became known as the 130 and was built on a dedicated chassis rather than the modified One Ten chassis which had been used on the earlier 127. 
 
Both Tdi engines are highly respected as dependable non-electronic power units, giving higher speed cruising over the Ninety/One Ten mills. Plenty of new and used parts available at good prices, and construction is still simple, though engines are more complex than earlier types. Lots of modification and upgrade kit is available. 
 
The five-cylinder Td5 engine was the last diesel to be designed and built in-house by Land Rover. It was sophisticated and relatively complex, featuring electronic unit fuel injectors. Its electronic engine management was received with suspicion, risking the Defender’s ‘fix it anywhere’ reputation. Td5s are now the most prolific Defenders on the road, testimony to the engine’s long-term reliability, and offering plenty of buying choices. 
 
The Td5 engine gives a significant performance improvement over the Tdi and can be slightly better on fuel. Long-lasting engine, given correct maintenance and proper use. Electronic engine management allows tuning options. Plenty of special models to search for, including Tomb Raiders, SVX and Defender Black. Top end Td5s have high trim levels, electronic traction control and air conditioning. 
 
The 2007-on TDCi is powered by Ford’s Duratorq engines, albeit with lubrication and sealing improvements to cope with Defender’s special duties. Initially a 2.4-litre, followed by the greener 2.2-litre, though both have the same performance output using a variable geometry turbocharger and delivering the business via a six-speed manual gearbox. 
 
Body options include 90 and 110 hard tops and station wagons, 2-door pick-ups and 4-door double-cab pick-ups. The 130 remains in the line-up. The 110 utility wagon is an ideal combination with full four-door access plus the conventional van load space at the rear. Prices are holding strongly and are likely to continue that way. Bespoke versions by specialist builders are increasingly popular and becoming abundant on the used market. 
 
This is the sophisticated Defender. Improved ride, comfort, heating, forward-facing rear seats, a more comprehensive dashboard and an engine with long term reliability if it is serviced properly. Plenty of tuning and customizing options from independent suppliers. Top of the range models will replace the family car, and go anywhere in the world. 
 
Sadly, this model does not have the bulkhead vent flaps which are so distinctive a part of the Defender brand. Happily, this ultimate evolution of Defender is as perfect as it gets. 
 
Performance and specs
 
Land Rover Defender 90 TDCI
Engine 2198cc, four-cylinder turbodiesel 
Power 122bhp @ 3500rpm 
Torque 265lb ft @ 2000rpm
Top speed 90mph
0-60mph 14.7seconds 
Fuel consumption 28.3mpg 
CO2 emissions 266g/km
Insurance group 12
Gearbox Six-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2360mm
Length 4040mm
Width 1790mm
Height 2182mm
Weight 1889kg
 
Common problems
 
• The Tdi Defenders are now elderly and many have covered high mileages. Examples that have been well maintained and used properly should last well, but many are hacked, have towed or been off-roaded hard, and some are modified badly. 
 
• Check for engine smoke and crankcase pressure when lifting the oil cap, all of which suggests a worn engine, though they’ll run a long time like this. Check all the transmission controls work, including diff lock and low range, and beware of excessive play in the rear diff above the normal driveline slop. 
 
• Chassis corrosion is still an issue, though late models fare better, but still check every inch with a screwdriver or tapping hammer. Expect to find aluminium corrosion spots on the doors, and on the lower body panels where corrosion is often hidden behind chequer plate. 
 
• Bulkheads are more corrosion resistant on TD5 and later models, and the chassis is improved. Holes can still appear anywhere, so check all of the chassis. 
 
• Chassis and bulkhead corrosion can be terminal, at least for those components, rather than the whole vehicle. 
 
• Some 200Tdi engine parts, including cylinder heads, are becoming difficult to source. Low security means a good one might get nicked. 
 
• On Td5 models, listen for whistling from the engine under load, which may be a warped exhaust manifold or broken studs. 
 
• Misfire from the engine can be caused by oil entering the injector harness, but might also be down to injector sealing problems (or head crack on early models) especially if accompanied by a smell of fuel on the dipstick. 
 
• Fuel leaking down from the back of the engine needs a new fuel pressure regulator. 
 
• As with all Defenders, the Td5 can seem to go forever and 200,000 miles on the clock need not put you off if there is evidence of good maintenance. 
 
• Rattles and bangs suggest the suspension needs re-bushing, but drivetrain and engine vibration may by a worn dual-mass flywheel. Look for body corrosion on lower panels doors, door shuts and window frames. 
 
• Land Rover has steadily improved the Defender over the past 24 years, so it’s not surprising that the current evolution is seriously sorted, and there is little to check beyond the routines that apply to any vehicle. Bodywork corrosion appears to be eliminated by new paint processes and galvanised parts, and the chassis is showing no concerns thus far. 
 
• Early TDCI vehicles had problems with power steering pump seal failure, clutch springs and fuel system ventilation, but these have all been addressed by Land Rover and it is unlikely that any vehicles would show these problems now. 
 
Model history
 
1991-1994: 200Tdi, 2.5-litre turbocharged, direct-injection diesel. 107 bhp, 195 lb-ft torque. LT77S five-speed transmission. 
1994-1998: 300Tdi, 2.5-litre turbocharged, direct-injection diesel. 111 bhp, 195 lb-ft torque. R380 five-speed transmission. 
1998-2007: TD5, 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 221 lb-ft torque. R380 five-speed transmission, permanent four-wheel drive.
2007-2012: TDCI, 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 221 lb-ft torque. Six-speed MT85 gearbox, permanent four-wheel drive. 
2012-on: TDCI, 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 265 lb-ft torque. Six-speed MT85 gearbox, permanent four-wheel drive.
2016: Production of all Defender models comes to an end.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.landroveraddict.com – Land Rover Monthly magazine’s website
• www.landyzone.co.uk – Land Rover Forum
• www.landyzone.co.uk – Land Rover Forum
 
Summary and prices
 
As production spans such a large period, prices are understandably varied. While production might have stopped, it’s still possible to find brand new Defenders. You can expect to pay £50k plus for one in top condition with minimal miles – Especially if it’s one of the Heritage editions. Rough TDCI models start at around £6200, up to around £17,000 for something with plenty of life left in it. 
 
The thing is, Defenders are generally in high demand, which means there are few bargains out there. You might be able to find an early 200Tdi for close to £2500, but don’t expect something this cheap to be anything less than very rough. Solid cars start nearer to £3500, and a genuinely clean example will fetch closer to £6000. A perfect example on a recent galvanised chassis could cost up to £12,000. The later 300Tdi models are generally valued a little higher, but condition is more important. 
 
If you want a faster and more refined drive, the Td5 is the best choice. These characterful turbocharged engines are considerably more desirable than earlier in many ways, and although less reliable range from £3500-£5000 in poor condition, to £12,000-£17,000 in the best shape.
Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide
Last updated: 21st Jul 2016
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  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 TD5 County Hard Top 2006

    £14,950 £14,950

    Land Rover Defender TD5 Station Wagon, Finished in Oslo Blue Metallic with Contrasting Black Roof and Black Chequer Plate Kit. Fitted with Freestyle Alloy Wheels, BFG All Terrain Tyres.;;This late model 2006 Defender 90 TD5 Hard Top has only covered 42500 miles from new and comes with service history, recently serviced and MoT'd. Rare opportunity to buy one of the last TD5s with extremely low mileage.

    • Mileage: 42500 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
    £14,950 £14,950
    Brooklands Prestige Cars
    07871 940131 View contact number
  • Land Rover Defender 90 2000 pickup

    £11,495 £11,495

    Land Rover Defender 90 Pickup. Just had full service by Somerset Landys including diff oils. Had new drive belt, tensioner and pulleys. New cv joint. On bfg mud terrains. Comes with Ifor Williams back. Spot lights fully working. MOT APRIL 2019. This vehicle is a Land Rover special vehicle. There is a small dent near side front wing but does not effect vehicles performance and is just a battle scar! Comes with middle seat for front row presently has cubby box.

    • Mileage: 128000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £11,495 £11,495
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £12,995 £12,995

    Power Steering, Rear Wash/wipe, 4x4 Genuine factory built Station Wagon and only 70,000 miles. Recent refurbishment including unleaded cylinder head. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 70000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £12,995 £12,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £20,995 £20,995

    Half Leather, Power Steering, Tow Pack, Side Steps, CD Player, Sunroof, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history Tomb Raider Special Edition. Includes the Tomb Raider number plate T90BMR. It still has all the correct extras that the model came with new * Viewing available 9am-5pm

    • Mileage: 94000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £20,995 £20,995
  • Land Rover Defender

    £12,750 £12,750

    LANDROVER DEFENDER 90 2.4TDCi 2008 Pick Up ifor Williams canopy Keswick Green, 68,000 genuine miles, service history, puma engine, 6 speed gearbox, 4x4, undersealed treatment, upgraded steering wheel for more arm room! (original steering wheel included), oversize superb condition BF Goodrich on heavy duty modular rims, Sony bluetooth handsfree audio, service history, new brakes, recent new battery, shockers, bushes, recent new starter motor, upgraded land rover alarm and immobiliser, secondary Cobra alarm and immobiliser, wipac 100w spotlights on powder coated bull bar, Brit part waterproof seat covers and a heap of receipts for much much more. I’m the second owner from new. Private plate included in sale. Original plates supplied in case you wish to return to year related plate and sell private plates. Very reluctant sale but house purchase forces I’m afraid. This Landy is my pride and joy and I’ve never spared expense with whatever its needed! Just had full service and MOT Never been used for off road or farming abuse. Ive towed only a couple of times and used it for my dogs in the back. a few tiny dents up and down but nothing of any concern… its not brand new! Drives superb. Any inspection AA, RAC etc welcome. Please call me for further details on 07817 351037 (Paul) Vehicle located between Leeds and York Payment by bank transfer only. Vehicle released upon cleared funds. £12,750 NO VAT - NO VAT - NO VAT PRIVATE SALE

    • Year: pre 1900
    • Mileage: 68000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.4
    For sale
    £12,750 £12,750
    Paul Clifton
    Paul Clifton
  • Land Rover Defender

    £19,350 £19,350

    Variant name:90 SWB Diesel ,Variant: XS Station Wagon TDCi Stunning Land Rover Defender 90 2.4 TDi XS 4X4 3dr finished in Grey Metallic With contrasting black trim great features including, Upgrades - Front Bull Bar with Two Extra High Beam Lights, JW speakers, Evo 2LED Head lights, LED Indicators,Side Lights,Brake Lights, 48 LED Roof Light Bar, NAS Rear Speaker, Alpine Bass Box, Kenwood Stereo, Standard Features - Air Conditioning, Alloy Wheels-16in Boost w. Conti Cross Tubeless, Perimetric and Volumetric Alarm, Single Slot CD & Radio with MP3/AUX Spkrs Bluetoo., Tinted Glass - Front and Side. 4 seats,

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 86000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.4
    For sale
    £19,350 £19,350
  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 COUNTY STATION WAGON 2009

    £28,650 £28,650

    *NO VAT* 18 Inch Nemesis wheels, LED headlight conversion with HALO daytime running light feature, apple car play, bluetooth, reversing camera, MOMO steering wheel and boss, side steps, KBX grill and vents, heated seats and windows, USB, leather arm rest/centre box, privacy glass, full service history, Upgrades - Cubby Box, Next MOT due 05/01/2019, Last serviced on 11/03/2018 at 56,500 miles, Full service history, Excellent bodywork, Interior - Excellent Condition, Tyre condition Excellent, Standard Features - Single Slot CD and Radio and Dash Mounted Tweeters, Tinted Glass, Electric Windows (Front), Alarm, In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD). 4 seats, Grey, Simply incredible condition throughout and presented with a stunning specification, MOT January 2019. NO VAT!! NO VAT!! NO VAT!! Urban 2 inch lowering springs, full service history- 8 Services up to 56,500 miles in March 2018 with an MOT until January 2019, 2 keys. This is an ultra rare car and only going up in value! Presented with all of the extras as a TWISTED and URBAN model/conversion but without the price tag. ***ONLY 57,000 MILES FROM NEW*****ONLY 57,000 MILES FROM NEW***, 4 owners, FOR MORE LOW MILEAGE VEHICLES VISIT WWW.AXLR8CARS.CO.UK OR CALL 01892 544446

    • Mileage: 57000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.402
    For sale
    £28,650 £28,650
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £14,999 £14,999

    Air Conditioning, Anti-Theft System, Central Locking, Privacy Glass, Cloth Upholstery, Front Centre Armrest, UK Supplied, UK Specification, Snorkel, Power Steering, ABS, Colour Coded Body, Front Fog Lamps, Rear Wash/wipe, Side Steps, Tow Pack, Electric Windows, CD Player, Radio, 4 X 4, Winch System, Off Road Kit, Roll Bars, Turbo, 4x4 NOT THE TYPICAL DEFENDER 90! PLEASE CALL FOR MORE DETAILS OF THIS DISTINCTIVE LAND ROVER - 01444 452 621

    • Mileage: 68000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £14,999 £14,999
  • Land Rover Defender SVX 2009

    £31,995 £31,995

    Very rare 60th Anniversary Defender SVX in Santorini black, new MOT and service history, 36k miles, cherished number plate to go with the car X60 SVX. Has all the usual SVX spec including 60th Anniversary decals, Recaro half leather heated seats, Garmin SAT NAV, heated windscreen, IPOD connectivity, tubular side steps, audio system and subwoofer, electric windows, sunroof, LED rear reversing light and fog lights, NAS rear step, tow pack, tints, front and rear mud flaps, ECU power increase and derestricted, rubber mats throughout, lady owner, never worked

    • Mileage: 36000 mi
    • Engine size: 2402
    For sale
    £31,995 £31,995
  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 50th Anniversary Edition 229 1999

    £27,500 £27,500

    We are delighted to be able to offer another example of one of the most desirable Land Rovers ever made. ;;The 50th Anniversary Defender was produced in 1999 as a limited production edition and featured for the first time in a RHD Defender the 4.0L V8 engine with automatic transmission. Finished in White with Raleigh cloth interior this Defender 50th Anniversary is number 50th-229 of the 1,071 produced for the global markets and comes to us from the private collection of a Defender enthusiast. ;;This example was sold new in Japan and was returned to the UK in 2018, having spent most of its life in a favorable climate it is in great condition, 53983 miles and is in great condition as you'd expect, recently serviced and MOT'd.;This collectable Defender is offered at a very competitive price, finance can be arranged.

    For sale
    £27,500 £27,500