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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
5950 51989 GBP
  • Land Rover Defender

    £25,000 £25,000

    Defender Hi Cap 110. Owned from new and registered December 2015, so one of the last made. Non smoker owner. Couple of nicks and dings, but nothing that detracts from this fantastic truck. This is a genuine sale as driving it really aggravates my sciatica, so no longer able to use. The price includes VAT and a vat receipt will be provided.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 28000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £25,000 £25,000
    Richard Rainford
    Richard Rainford
  • Land Rover Defender 2007

    £16,950 £16,950

    Lovely, clean, gun metal grey defender in great condition. 2 (full size and comfortable) fold up rear seats, air con, audio system, towing kit Full set of rubber mats - front and rear Low milage, regular servicing and well looked after

    • Mileage: 69332 mi
    • Engine size: 2402
    For sale
    £16,950 £16,950
  • Land Rover Defender 110 turbo, 1993 reg, for sale, manual, diesel

    £5,950 £5,950

    Land Rover Defender 110 turbo, 1993 reg, manual, diesel. White, 4-wheel drive, 300tdi. Mileage: 271,000, MOT until October 2018. Vehicle drives great for a manual gearbox. Safari roof rack and ladder. Leather interior. Checker plate on bonnet and wings. Vehicle needs a little work but nothing major. Sold as seen: £5,950 ono. For full details, contact Dave on 07753 183083.

    • Mileage: 271000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £5,950 £5,950
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £13,995 £13,995

    Air Conditioning, CD Player, Sunroof, Side Steps, Privacy Glass, Tow Pack, Rear Wash/wipe, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history Fitted with Exmoor Trim Elite front seats and Classic High Back 2nd row seats. 300TDi, air-conditioning. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 117000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £13,995 £13,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £19,750 £19,750

    Immobiliser, Front Centre Armrest, Power Steering, Tow Pack, CD Player, Radio, 6 - Speed, LEZ Compliant, UK Specification, UK Supplied, 16'' Alloys, 4x4, Full service history 2013 Defender 90 2.2 TDci Truck cab/Pick up, Taymar blue, 6-speed, 25150mls Full service history, Alloy wheels, Ifor Williams canopy, Cubby box, Cd/radio, New mot 12months/12000mls warranty

    • Mileage: 25150 mi
    • Engine size: 2198
    For sale
    £19,750 £19,750
  • Land Rover Defender

    €16,000(£0) €16,000(£0)

    Nice ex military Wolf Landy 1987. Rust free, LHD, new Bikini soft top, new all year tires, Norwegian registered and located in Finland.

    • Year: 1987
    • Mileage: 170000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.4
    For sale
    €16,000(£0) €16,000(£0)
    Sami Tikkanen
    +4748265014 View contact number
    Sami Tikkanen
    +4748265014 View contact number
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £18,995 £18,995

    4 Wheel Drive, Excellent Condition, Low Mileage, Air Conditioning, Heated Seats, CD Player, Quick-Clear Screen, Half Leather, Side Steps, Tow Pack, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Full service history 2004 Land Rover 90 Defender 2.5Td5 XS 6 seater Finished in Epsom Green Metallic. Only 77,000 miles with full service history including a recent clutch and flywheel , Excellent specification including Air conditioning , Half leather, Heated front seats , Heated front screen , Cubby Pack , Remote central locking , Single cd player , Wax oiled chassis , Drop down towbar with single electrics , 2 x keys and fobs. This Defender is in superb condition throughout , A 3 month warranty is included.M003 BUS private plate IS includedPart exchange welcome - Low rate finance available - 01372 278 539 - 07940 007 067www.candccarsales.co.uk

    • Mileage: 77000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £18,995 £18,995
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £17,995 £17,995

    Air Conditioning, Half Leather, Quick-Clear Screen, ABS, Traction Control, Power Steering, Electric Windows, CD Player, Tow Pack, Rear Wash/wipe, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history 5 seater XS Utility Station Wagon * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 81000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £17,995 £17,995
  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 200TDI*AUTOBIOGRAPHY SPEC MUST SEE*USA EXPORTABLE* 1991

    £11,950 £11,950

    Here at THE LANDY CENTRE we are proud to offer this stunning 1991 200tdi 90 station wagon with only 111000 miles AUTOBIOGRAPHY TAKE OFF,READY IN TWO WEEKS,just had full In-house refurb to autobiography edition spec,new respray inside out,new exmoor carpet throughout,new exmoor leather diamond stitch seats,new led lights and xenon headlights all round,new sawtooth alloys and new tyres,kbx grill and light surrounds,chassis steamed cleaned and wax oiled,new rear crossmember,chassis in great condition no welding,new door hinges and stainless hardware,new rubbers,new bumper,new side steps,full major engine service including cambelt,SOLD TO UK BUYERS WITH 12 MONTHS MOT AND 12 MONTHS WARRENTY,FREE PORT DELIVERY FOR USA BUYERS CAN ASSIST WITH SHIPPING,CALL TO SECURE NOW 01932808536 WONT BE HERE LONG FURTHER MODIFACTIONS CAN BE MADE AND ANY EXTRAS ADDED library picture to give you an idea of what the car will look like

    • Mileage: 111000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.495
    For sale
    £11,950 £11,950
  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 County station wagon 300tdi*LOW MILES ONLY 59k*LOVELY CONDITION* 1995

    £12,450 £12,450

    Here at THE LANDY CENTRE we are proud to offer this stunning 1995 300tdi 90 station wagon with a mere 59000 miles,just had a full in-house refurb finished in biarittz blue with genuine SVX wheels and new tyres,chassis in very good condition as is bulkhead,runs and drives beautiful,new carpet set throughout,new seats,new led lights and xenon headlights all round,new chequer plate kit,chassis protected,no rot throughout car really nice all round with very low miles SOLD WITH 12 MONTHS WARRENTY AND 12 MONTHS MOT,FULL MAJOR SERVICE,call now don’t miss out won’t be here long 01932808536

    • Mileage: 59175 mi
    • Engine size: 2.495
    For sale
    £12,450 £12,450
  • Land Rover Defender

    £18,000 £18,000

    Current World Record holding participant in the largest convoy of Landrover vehicles this Landrover Defender 110 is in very good condition. Full service history and a number of new parts. This has been a great family car. Seats 9 currently for sale at £18,000 on local dealers advice and valuation but willing to consider close offers. This Defender is destined to become a true collectors item. Currently on a private registration which can be included if required

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 99430 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
    £18,000 £18,000
    Harry Bowden

    07717895912 View contact number
    Harry Bowden

    07717895912 View contact number
  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 110 DCB HARD TOP LWB 2007

    £12,500 £12,500

    Landrover Defender 110 Puma Commercial 2007 Only 49590 Miles Last Owner Since 2009, only 2 Previous Owners, Boost Alloy Wheels Nicely Ply Lined In The Rear Any Inspection Welcome ?12500 Plus Vat, Upgrades - Alloy Wheels, 3 months Warranty, Next MOT due 05/07/2019, Clean bodywork, Black Velour interior - Clean Condition, Tyre condition Good, Four wheel-drive, Standard Features - In Car Entertainment (Radio Preparation). 2 seats, Solid White, Experian auto check clear, 12,500 Plus Vat

    • Mileage: 49590 mi
    • Engine size: 2.402
    For sale
    £12,500 £12,500
  • Land Rover Defender

    £28,995 £28,995

    Variant name:90 SWB Diesel ,Variant: XS Station Wagon TDCi [2.2] We are excited to present this lovely 2012 Land Rover Defender 90 SWB finished in Santorini Black with a Black Cloth & Leather Interior. This car has some great options including Air Conditioning, Heated Front Seats, 6-Speed Manual Gearbox, Locking Differential, Brunel Grille/Headlamp Surrounds, Body Coloured Roof, Electronic Traction Control, Front & Rear Mudflaps, Heated Front Windscreen, Leather Steering Wheel, Remote Central Locking, Alpine Radio with FM Radio & Bluetooth Smart Phone Connectivity, Electric Windows and Folding Rear Seats. For more information on this lovely car please contact a member of our Sales Team on the number listed above.

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 27000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £28,995 £28,995
  • Land Rover Defender

    £37,990 £37,990

    Variant name:TD HERITAGE HARD TOP ,Variant: 2015 65 Land Rover Defender 90 2.2 TD Heritage Hard Top New to our rare limited edition selection of handpicked vehicles 1 of only 400, the one owner from new 2015 65 Land Rover Defender 90 2.2 TD Heritage Hard Top completed just 787 miles. This unique 4x4 was built to celebrate 67 years of production and the conclusion of the 'Defender'. Special features include the Grassmere Green colour scheme determined by a surplus of military paint, a black square on the wing with white letters that read HUE 166 – the registration of the first pre-production Series Land Rover. Other features include the classic ‘lightning bolt’ Land Rover badge, the heritage-style grille, mudflaps, body colour wheels, white roof, and headlamps, JVC CD/Bluetooth player, Bluetooth Telephone, USB In, iPod/iPhone compatible, Front passenger and driver heated seats, Driver and passenger electric windows, Rubber load space mat, Full Size spare wheel w/ Goodrich tyre, Front & Rear mud flaps, Chequer plates on Black Tubular side steps, LED Lights, HUE166 Tribute, 1 of 400. Produced in both Station Wagon and Hardtop form with the rarest variant being the Hardtop like the one we are offering here. This is an investment vehicle and would position itself perfectly amongst any car enthusiasts' collection. This Vehicle is also subject to VAT. All of our cars are subject to meticulous care and preparation by our skilled technicians and bodywork experts to guarantee peace of mind. To request a personalised presentation, arrange a test drive or to simply ask for additional info, then call 01642 813 376 or speak to us on Live Chat today

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 787 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £37,990 £37,990