1990 Defender 90 - 200 TDI ($25,000)
Written by Andrew Golseth
Photography by Shayan Bokaie
- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Chassis: SALLDVAB7FA424895
- Engine: 2.5L 200Tdi
- Transmission: Five speed LT230 manual
- Mileage: 50,380 Miles
- Color: Green | Black
READY TO RUMBLE
Born from the ashes of World War II, Land Rover’s journey over the past 70 years is difficult to properly summarize. These humble, rugged vehicles have so much cachet, such an ardent following, and an unmistakable style all their own, they’ve become an international icon. The recipe is simple: a steel ladder frame, aluminum body panels, a few effective powertrain options (often a trusty diesel), and two very capable axles.
Beginning with the original Series model trucks that laid the foundation in 1947, the Land Rover saw multiple entries of evolution for nearly forty consecutive years. When it came time to bring the Series truck up-to-date in the early ’80s, the requirement was clear: modernize a classic without tainting the timeless staple. Defender production began in 1983 and it’s character and ability successfully executed the aforementioned order.
Offered in several layout variations and factory options, the Defender carried the early Series’ soul into the modern age for 33 years until production seized in 2016. The Defender preserved the original Series design and concept and evolved slowly with great calculation. While there may never be a truck like it again, there are still good ones out there keeping the legend alive. With hundreds of thousands of Land Rovers still being actively used today for both leisure and labor, it remains the last word in off-roading.
As more and more Land Rovers become eligible for import each year thanks to the rolling 25-year NHTSA exemption, US buyers are starting to see more variety in body styles and engine choices. This RHD, diesel, “panel van” 90 is as European as they get, and a refreshingly rough-and-tumble spec amongst a sea of pimped-out Nantucket cruisers. With six owners from new and recently the subject of an extensive mechanical restoration, the truck has a preserved patina that allows for limitless off-road fun without the fear of ruining a concours paint job. Additionally, the 200Tdi engine up front has an excellent reputation and is only recently legal for the North American market, a big step up from the naturally-aspirated 2.5L diesel many ’80s Land Rovers use.
A California title is now achievable for interested parties.
Body – Straight and with acceptable gaps, the truck has had a few panels replaced over the years but remains largely original. The rear “panel van” configuration is uncommon in the North American Land Rover scene but provides some great benefits for a variety of applications. It can also be easily modified to include windows or even a soft-top arrangement if desired. Underneath, the chassis has been rust-proofed and coated with a sturdy layer of stonechip and Waxoyl.
Paint – Claimed original, the paint recently enjoyed a buffing and looks presentable throughout. Some battle scars lend off-road credibility and charm, while small areas of typical Land Rover paint bubbling and repairs are noted as well.
Chrome and Glass – The windshield appears like-new and was probably replaced at some point, though the rest of the glass appears original to the truck.
Wheels – Freshly painted, the Challenge -30 offset rims look great, though the tires are older and may be due for replacement. Mudflaps are present for each wheel.
Steering Wheel – The correct Land Rover wheel is intact and shows minimal wear.
Dashboard & Instrumentation – The simple, straightforward Defender dash looks to be in good shape, though the temperature control sticker on the right side will need replacement. A front and rear dash cam system is installed and integrated into the rearview mirror.
Seats, Trim, and Carpet – A partial restoration of the interior features a fresh black headliner, recovered seats, and a central cubby box. Plastics and door cards appear to be in good shape, along with the embossed Land Rover rubber mats.
Engine – The 200Tdi was rebuilt by Retro Rovers last year and features a long list of upgrades and replacement parts. New injectors, valve stem oil seals, water pump, fan belt, timing belt, and pulleys were fitted, along with a fresh radiator. With lots of torque and a satisfying rumble, the Land Rover turbo diesels are extremely popular in the rest of the world and perfectly suit the truck’s character.
Transmission – A completely rebuilt clutch complements the LT230 gearbox, while the fitment of a new spring-assisted clutch pedal box and fresh gearbox housing makes the driving experience as good as new.
Handling – Extensive work has been completed underneath, including upgraded steering rods and ball joints, new shocks, and new front turrets. Freshly-serviced brakes work well and provide good pedal feel.
Thanks to a dry chassis and straight body, the restoration focused on reviving the truck’s sturdy drivetrain while celebrating its patina. The result is a Land Rover in excellent shape, ready for a new owner to take full advantage of its capabilities. Drive it as-is or continue to upgrade, the beauty of this design is its simplicity and extensive parts support.
The decision to revive the truck’s original paint and stick with a largely period-correct look sets this Land Rover apart. Many of these trucks receive dramatic aesthetic makeovers, whether it’s an attempt to look like a later model or simply a personal aesthetic choice, the result often does not do justice to the vehicle’s roots and purpose. Here, we see a Land Rover as the factory intended: unadorned and ready to get muddy.
Extensive documents and receipts from the recent restoration accompany the sale, along with NV inspection paperwork.
Commercial Defender – Thanks to its “panel van” body style, this Land Rover is ready to be used for a variety of work and hauling. Paint your company’s name on the side and have a stylish shop van the envy of everyone else.
Tdi Legend – While the Land Rover V8 has somewhat of a checkered history, the company’s turbodiesel offerings are widely praised and their availability in the US market hotly anticipated. Enjoy a robust engine with loads of torque and an agricultural exhaust note that fits this truck perfectly.
Entry-Level With Few Concessions – While Defender prices can get very steep, the truck underneath is basically the same no matter what. As an extremely well-sorted, original example, this one represents great value with a lot of room to customize if desired.
MEET THE SELLER
This car is for sale by Courtney Kenobi and prepared by Retro Rover in Las Vegas, Nevada.