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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
4750 61995 GBP
  • Land Rover Defender

    £7,250 £7,250

    Land Rover defender TD5. Great condition. In it's early life it was a cat c . It was repaired and extended to a 130 It has been resprayed at sometime . Still looks smart but paint flaking in places Showing old colour Now the good bits. New mot. Chassis is great no repairs. Bodywork straight. Cobra alarm . All 4 electric Windows. Central locking. All mots (except 1) I have owned her for about 6 years . Never let me down . Never failed an mot. Great truck. Selling as I don't use it enough . Only 600 miles last year

    • Year: 2003
    • Mileage: 94100 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
    £7,250 £7,250
    Simon Daden
    Simon Daden
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £22,990 £22,990

    Variant name:TD HARD TOP ,Variant: 2014 14 Land Rover Defender 90 2.2 TDCI SWB Hard Top The Land Rover Defender 90 TD hard top is the ultimate pedigree in the Land Rover Range. This handpicked 2014 registered, 14 reg Keswick green Defender is supplied with full service history commandeered by the experts at Land Rover. There are a select few optional extras on this vehicle such as the convenience pack, tow ball, drop plates & electrics which cost an additional £755 when bought new. Further specification on this stunning vehicle includes full grey vinyl front seats, 16" white steel wheels, low range selector, Sony CD Stereo, Aux & USB in, electric windows and rear dog guard. We are very excited to state that this unique vehicle is NOT a VAT qualifying vehicle so comes at the advertised price to all consumers! 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: 2014
    • Mileage: 37826 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £22,990 £22,990
  • Land Rover Defender 1987

    £4,750 £4,750

    Solid usable Landrover 90 county 2.5 turbo diesel.  full years mot  brand new rear cross member/chis  oil and filters change timing belts changed new altinator  new lift pump, filters, injectors and pump. new bright spot lights  good tires with tonnes of tread  original interior with seating for 6 all with belts  new rear shocks  handbrake and rear brake overhall  reconditioned heater matrix  roof off and new rubbers  cd/radio   

    • Engine size: 2494
    For sale
    £4,750 £4,750
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £21,995 £21,995

    Air Conditioning, Half Leather, Quick-Clear Screen, Heated Seats, ABS, Traction Control, Power Steering, CD Player, Electric Windows, Tow Pack, Side Steps, Rear Wash/wipe, Metallic Paintwork, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history only 66,000 miles * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 66000 mi
    • Engine size: 2402
    For sale
    £21,995 £21,995
  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 TD5 1999

    £16,995 £16,995

    1999 Defender 90 Hard Top finished in Black with Black wheels and full Leather trim;;If you're looking for a fully upgraded Defender at realistic money and want to save yourself a lot of time and money , this has already been finished to a high standard;;Upgraded wheels, bumpers, lights, interior, exhaust, side steps;;Rear panoramic windows, corbeau full leather seats , momo steering wheel, hi-if speakers and bluetooth system;;Showing 85000 miles , mot November ;;Cherished registration number not include in sale

    • Mileage: 85000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
    £16,995 £16,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £39,995 £39,995

    Full Service History, Alloy wheels, Sports Seats, Privacy Glass, Central Locking, Air Conditioning, Half Leather, Heated Seats, Front Centre Armrest, Must Be Seen, ABS, Bluetooth, MP3 Player, Radio, Multi-Disc CD Player, Electric Front Windows, Power Steering, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Full service history All vehicles are located at GU315EA. All come with 12 Months MOT, Pre Delivery Service and 6 Month warranty. Low rate Finance with zero deposit available. Opening hours Monday to Friday 8.00am to 6.00pm. Sundays by appointment only. Please call 01730 821816 for further details.

    • Mileage: 10400 mi
    • Engine size: 2198
    For sale
    £39,995 £39,995
  • Land Rover Defender

    £29,990 £29,990

    Variant name:110 TD5 BLACK DCB ,Variant: 2002 52 Land Rover Defender 110 2.5 TD5 Black LE Country Double Cab LWB Newly added to our line of unique specialist vehicles the Land Rover Defender Crew Cab 2.5 TD5 XS Model with half leather interior. This one off collectors item has undergone a full rebuild and upgrades worth in excess of £26,246.00. All work has been carried out by a specialist with accompanying invoices with full breakdown of the cost and work carried out. The Defender comes with a full 12 month MOT which was carried out by the specialist company that rebuilt it. Supplied with the car is two sets of keys, the original service booklet and original hand booklet. The specification of this Crew Cab includes full checker plate kit including load area, HID headlamps, side steps, external roll cage, badge upgrade, front & rear light grills, five Storm high gloss black wheels with BF Goodrich all terrain T/A tyres, tinted privacy glass, uprated front grill & light surrounds in high gloss black, fully under sealed and cavity wax oiled, full factory toolkit and a high gloss black rear back panel. Since rebuilding the factory 2.5 BMW engine, the Defender has covered just over 1,000 miles making it almost as new. As well as full inspections and meticulous preparation by our dedicated tech and bodywork teams, you can rest assured that the Defender is an exemplar model. 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: 2002
    • Mileage: 122735 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
    £29,990 £29,990
  • Land Rover Defender 110 1988

    £4,750 £4,750

    Land Rover 110, 1988, MoT October 2018, 200 TDI (11L) defender engine fitted 2013, heavy duty (wolf) wheels all round (inc. spare) on extended studs. recovered seats, owned since 2005   £5.200  open to offers still in use but ready to go.    open to offer

    • Mileage: 122908 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £4,750 £4,750
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £9,750 £9,750

    Air Conditioning, Tow Pack, Roof Rails, CD Player, Radio, 6 speed gearbox, Fitted Winch, LEZ Compliant, UK Specification, UK Supplied, Bulkhead, Racking System, 4x4, Service history 2009 Defender 110 2.4TDci Hard Top (Electricity Company Spec). 6-speed, 123750mls. Straight out of service and previously maintained by ourselves, This vehicle features...Roller shutter side storage compartments, interior racking, ladder roof storage with central walkway, air conditioning, heavy duty bumper with fitted winch, tow pack, security locks to all doors. New mot and service, 6months/6000mls warranty

    • Mileage: 123750 mi
    • Engine size: 2402
    For sale
    £9,750 £9,750
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £23,750 £23,750

    Remote Alarm, Head Restraints, Power Steering, ABS, Metallic Paintwork, Tow Pack, 6 speed gearbox, Full size spare wheel, LEZ Compliant, UK Specification, UK Supplied, Traction Control, 16'' Alloys, 4x4 2014 Defender 90 2.2 TDci Truck Cab, Just 7400mls from new only, Scotia grey with vinyl seats, Boost alloys, Power steering and tow pack, Great little low mileage truck, Very hard to find, New mot and service, 12months/12000mls warranty

    • Mileage: 7400 mi
    • Engine size: 2198
    For sale
    £23,750 £23,750
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £10,995 £10,995

    Side Steps, ABS, Electric Windows, Quick-Clear Screen, Heated Seats, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Power Steering, Tow Pack, Traction Control, Alloy wheels, 4x4 Rare to find County spec High Capacity Pick Up. I owner, heated seats, heated front screen, abs, traction control, electric windows, central locking. No vat. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 154000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £10,995 £10,995
  • Land Rover Defender

    £15,995 £15,995

    For Sale Defender 110 TD5 County Station Wagon 30/06/2004 Mileage 76000 FSH MOT till Dec 8 2018 One former owner I purchased from Simmonites 24/10/14 at 58000 miles. In immaculate overall condition exceptionally well maintained with very low mileage. This vehicle has been used for camping holidays only and has seen minimal use. I have added a selection of top quality extras to improve comfort and durability without spoiling the look. A” Rover Drive” over drive from Canada, a very rare and expensive addition that gives a huge improvement to the longer journey. Exmoor Trim lock box , Modular seats, heated and lumbar support just installed.”Allisport” aluminium radiator and intercooler. Silicon turbo hoses, ITG air filter, wheel arch liners, rear anti roll bar, aluminium steering guard, sound insulation to all the interior panel work, heavy duty moulded floor matting to front, a “Safari Equip” rear wheel carrier, rear rubber floor matting, a security safe, heavy duty rear corner bumpers, rear LED work light, power for camping awning light, mud defenders on rear arches. Maintenance wise I have done all the servicing myself over and above the required schedules I have just fitted new rear dampers “Koni gas” and rear pads, A type service November 2017 B service May 2017. Professionally waxed by Simmonites and given a stage 1 remap by them. I have waxed inside the bulkhead every summer and it is rust free. This summer I lifted the roof and replaced the rear tub cappings with galvanised and painted ones and replaced all the body seals it does not leak. I had the wheels repainted and five new Cooper AT3 tyres these have been great. Every thing works as it should and the chassis is in top condition. I have removed the rear four seats but they could be easily replaced as all the fittings have been saved and are in excellent condition. Reason for sale I have bought a Range Rover and need the space. This Defender goes really well and has been a pleasure to own it will be sad to see her go.

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 76000 mi
    For sale
    £15,995 £15,995
    Andy Plimmer
    Andy Plimmer
  • Land Rover Defender

    £5,999 £5,999

    HERE I HAVE MY PRIDE AND JOY 1973 Land Rover Defender Series III LWB 4x4 Safari Fully Restored... READY TO DRIVE AWAY... DRIVES GREAT WITH NO KNOWN MECHANICAL FAULTS... Any questions will be answered as soon as possible but my computer is not on 24/7 so be a bit patient when waiting for replies.

    • Year: 1973
    • Mileage: 1973 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
    £5,999 £5,999
    Patricia Manson
    Patricia Manson
  • Land Rover Defender 1999

    £8,250 £8,250

    1999 Land Rover 90 TD5 (2.5L) 150,00 approx. miles on clock Generally in very good order inside and out Some minor scches and light dents to both the front nearside & offside panels (shown in attached pictures), as well as some light rust on the rear door, as is common with these models. FSH, MOT until end of March 2018  

    • Mileage: 150000 mi
    • Engine size: 2500
    For sale
    £8,250 £8,250
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £11,995 £11,995

    Power Steering, CD Player, Rear Wash/wipe, Metallic Paintwork, Alloy wheels, 4x4, Service history Rebuilt 4 years ago onto a galvanised chassis and repainted in Land Rover Galway Green metallic. We could also re-chassis your Land Rover, call for details. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 156000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    £11,995 £11,995
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £34,995 £34,995

    Bluetooth, Full Leather, Alarm, Central Locking, Immobiliser, Remote Alarm, Remote Central Locking, Front Centre Armrest, Heated Seats, Sports Seats, Power Steering, Stability Control, Traction Control, ABS, Air Bag, Colour Coded Body, Front Fog Lamps, Tow Pack, CD Player, Radio, 4x4 HERE WE HAVE A LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 PICK UP THAT HAS HAD A FULL CHELSEA TRUCK & CO PROJECT REBUILD WITH THE KAHN HEATED LEATHER SPORTS SEATS,DOOR CARDS,LEATHER HEAD LINER,GRAB HANDLE,CUBBY BOX,WIDE TRACK BODY KIT,TWIN EXIT EXHAUST,BELLY PAN,STEALTH FRONT BUMPER,LED LIGHTS ALL ROUND,MULTI POINT TOW BAR,HEAVY DUTY SUSPENSION KIT,CHECKER PLATE BOOT LINER,FULL RESPRAY IN KESWICK GREEN .

    • Mileage: 46767 mi
    • Engine size: 2402
    For sale
    £34,995 £34,995
  • LAND ROVER DEFENDER 90 HARD TOP. Tamar Blue

    £17,495 £17,495

    Defender 2.4 TDCI Puma 6 Speed Manual.;Classic Tamar Blue wth Unmarked Anthracite Cloth Seats, White Roof and Wheels. Only 43,000 Miles witth FSH, Land Rover Plus 2 Owners with Same keeper For 5 Years. Complete Supplying Book Pack and Spare Keys. Genuine Unabused Low Miles, Low Ownership Denfender.;;Defender Rubber Mats and Rear Boot Liner;Kenwood CD Player;Cubby Box;Alarm;Tow Bar;4 Recent Michelin Altitude Tyres;Side Steps;Fresh Service and New MOT Just Completed (No Advisories);Excellent Original Condition Throughout.;NO VAT.;;;;;;;

    • Mileage: 43000 mi
    For sale
    £17,495 £17,495