Reader Submissions: Irrational Pain: Why Selling My Defender 90 Was So Hard To Do

Irrational Pain: Why Selling My Defender 90 Was So Hard To Do

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
November 2, 2016
16 comments

Story & Photos by Marcel Kramer

My old 1990 Land Rover Defender 90 – it’s slow, noisy, uncomfortable and unreliable. And to this day I still regret selling it. And it turns out I’m not the only one who’s had this experience. Across the globe people are hanging on to their oil-dripping Defenders for completely irrational reasons. Why?

When I moved from Amsterdam to Johannesburg I suddenly found myself surrounded by 4×4 superstars. Landcruisers, Hilux’s, Rubicons and Defenders regularly crawl the pavements of Johannesburg’s business district and surrounding suburbs. On the weekends many of them steadily roll out of the city to conquer the rich variety of overlanding trips scattered across Southern Africa.

People who’ve never owned a Defender seem to know a surprising amount of facts about why you shouldn’t buy one. When I was thinking of buying one, there was unanimous agreement between family, friends and colleagues that I must have hit my head very hard and simply wasn’t thinking straight.

Ignoring all sound advice I soon found myself shaking hands with a man wearing a Land Rover jacket and matching Land Rover tattoo. I just bought his beloved 90. It was a mint condition, low-mileage car, with a TD5 engine and all the required overlanding extras: specs dearly coveted by Land Rover enthusiasts. The owner didn’t really want to sell, but for a number of reasons he didn’t have a choice. He was another victim of the irrational bond I too would soon fall victim to.

What followed can only be described as an emotional roller coaster. After every time something expensive broke (again), the car kept finding a way to rekindle my irrational love for it.

In the year that I owned the car I experienced three different oil leaks, failing air-conditioning, three flat tyres – of which one completely disintegrated, and a broken prop-shaft. With any other car you would have given up hope. But it’s different with a Defender.

Because in that same year I took the car through a number of off-road courses, traversed Namibia and Botswana, and took it to the South African coast and back. And every time you leave the tarmac with a Defender it feels like it can’t be rivalled. The car seems limitless in its capabilities and it takes a skilled and brave driver to try explore those limits. Steep hills, endless gravel roads and the deep sand of the Sossusvlei in Namibia were just another day in the office for the Defender. And even on the tarmac, where it’s clearly not designed to be and where it will really only get you to a maximum speed of 120 km/h while guzzling diesel at a higher rate than a Sherman tank, it has a truly unique character. I once covered 1250 km in one day in the Defender and was still fresh as a daisy when I arrived.

However, while the Defender rules the gravel and settles on the tarmac, any of those other superstar 4x4s – the Landcruiser, Hilux and Rubicon – have similar capabilities. And more importantly, they’re faster, less noisy, more comfortable and more reliable.

As my friend with the Land Rover tattoo did, I found myself having to sell the Defender. My beloved friends agreed that it was best the Defender would go. At the time I was too distracted by the machine I traded the Defender in for. But as the days passed by this nagging feeling started to grow, until, one day, I found myself confessing to my friends, “I shouldn’t have sold the 90”. My friends – again reminding me of the misery of owning a Defender – asked why, and I simply couldn’t explain.

A few months down the line I now understand. The rational explanation lies in the irrationality of the bond. In hostage situations captives sometimes fall victim to Stockholm Syndrome, where a victim develops feelings of trust and affection towards a captor. It’s a natural defence mechanism humans develop. I think the irrational attachment to the Defender is a similar defence mechanism. I developed feelings of trust and affection towards my captor – the Defender. It meant I forget about all my gripes with the Defender- the slowness, noise, lack of comfort and expensive repairs – and left me with one thought: I need another Land Rover Defender.

Editor’s Note: We love hearing your stories in your own words. Do you have a story like this one? We’d love to hear it, send them through at This link.

Join the Conversation
Related

Leave a Reply

16 Comments on "Irrational Pain: Why Selling My Defender 90 Was So Hard To Do"

avatar
Photo and Image Files
 
 
 
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Kevin Thomas Loten
Thanks for this great article. It is nice to know I am not alone in my seemingly dysfunctional sense of loss since I sold my Defender. My wife, 2 children and I spent 3 years lving in the southern region of Malawi, Africa. I had a glorious 1998 Defender 110, who we lovingly referred to as ‘Arthur’. He carried us through floods, droughts, famines, ravines, and burning sugar cane fields. He was loud, hot, uncomfortable, nerve-wracking…and utterly awesome. I sold him when we returned to Canada and I have regretted it every day since. When I first got my Landy… Read more »
IMG_8584.jpg
Nate Thuli
Nate Thuli

I have never heard of the attraction to a Defender described quite like this, as a defense mechanism, but there is a lot of truth there. I have a Defender 110 and have grown uniquely attached to it. Every time we take it camping and exploring here in Colorado, it’s loud, bumpy, dusty, and uncomfortable but we end each day loving it even more and wanting to drive it again. There is just something special about it and I hope Land Rover doesn’t lose this in the future with the follow-on Defender.

745A1A05-A9CA-4B08-8832-E10B752D06A6.JPG
Michael Conforti
Michael Conforti

I have been watching US Defender 90/110 sales closely and driven both cars recently. I think I have this Defender sickness. I hope I come to my senses soon. I can not make a solid case for buying one, but I think I am going to anyway.

Landroving
Landroving

This hits very close to home for me as well. I just sold my 97 Disco 5 sp built to CT spec. I didn’t have covered storage for the beast, work is getting in the way of using it and the guy that bought it is a friend and has the skills (and the shop) to keep it going strong. I still feel a massive sense of loss, actually more so than when I sold my 64 IIa years ago. There is definitely something endearing about the green oval.

photo.JPG
Mike
Mike
I do that with a lot of cars. I desperately miss my 96 Talon TSi AWD even though I broke clutches on it, it didn’t have functional A/C, and needed a paint job BAD. I also miss my 08 Evo X, even though the MPG was terrible, the ride was harsh, and the seats were not comfortable. I miss my 03 Dakota R/T even though the MPG was abysmal and nobody really NEEDS 2 trucks (sold it to buy a 4×4 ram for “towing”). I also miss my 11 BMW 135i but was worried about the approaching maintenance costs and… Read more »
Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini
I had a Defender 90 tdi, probably the coolest looking vehicle I have ever owned. However, I have no regrets about selling it. It was constant trouble. I went to South Africa/Botswana in 2010 with friends, I rented a Toyota Hilux with all of the gear, and my friend wanting the good photo ops rented a D110. The Toyota was better in every single way save one, which was the safari image. In the states, my Defender kept me from more trips than it ever took me on. That thing was nothing but trouble. Ok, maybe I miss it a… Read more »
Miguel Henriques

Congratulations for your statment. My story with the Defender is like yours. I´m looking «The One» again. Best regards from Madeira Island – Portugal

dukeofthevly
dukeofthevly

“one life, live it.”

Dr Joe
Dr Joe

I sold mine. 1994 NAS 90. Cashed out on a truck that was worth too much to really enjoy, but still had common Defender rust problems. I don’t miss it specifically, but I do miss owning a Defender. If I lived outside the US and had access to reasonably priced late mode trucks, I would certainly own another.

Carlos
Carlos

Hello my friend, I was a minute away to make the same mistake that you make, but then I realize that I’m in love with my captor (my 2002 D-90 ) and that my children’s are in love with it too, so I decided to Continue in this privileged situation that I am for as long as I can :), I recommend you that yo return to the only and unique real car that you can find. Best regards from Honduras, Central America

IMG_5060.JPG
IMG_8583.JPG
IMG_1377.JPG
Marcel
Marcel

Carlos, I’m very glad to hear you didn’t make the same mistake I did 🙂 I can see from the pictures that the car is a true part of the family now. Enjoy it!

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss

Great words Marcel. I think you hit it more accurately than GS… it always feels like Stockholm Syndrome to me. Or perhaps co-dependency? Anyway, amusing how you find yourself defending a Defender!

Charles Edington
Charles Edington

I know exactly how you feel.
When I moved from Oz to the USA for work I sold my 85′ 110 County V8. She was too young to bring into the USA 🙁
I regret not storing her and bringing her over later every day…

IMG_5306.JPG
Marcel
Marcel

Charles, it’s never too late to get one again 😉

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
Well son .. since from your words at least you seem to be on an honest quest for the truth … allow me to explain your pain . Without filling the site with pages upon pages of rhetoric and in the quest of a succinct and tidy little post [ yeah .. I can hear y’all laughing ] here is whats at the root of your discomfort ; When you own a vehicle like a Land Rover Defender – Harley Davidson – Classic Alfa Romeo [ and yes even a Ferrari ] or any other quirky / trendy / status… Read more »
Marcel
Marcel

Very eloquently put! Those part of a cult will however always deny it being a cult 😉

wpDiscuz