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Everything you need to know about OWNING IMPROVING and BUYING the toughest Land Rover of all time








How to choose an ex-MoD hero Servicing & upgrading guides

HISTORY The Top 25 Defender milestones

25 years of defender MILESTONES


to success Mike Gould, former brand manager for the Defender, picks the 25 most significant milestones in the icon’s history, from 1990 to today!


need for a name

The Discovery’s launch in 1989 marked not only the debut of an incremental model line but a complete re-branding of Land Rover. This was prompted by market research revealing that the famous oval carried a great deal of prestige and needed a new name for the 90/110 line.


Choosing ‘defender’

Most Land Rover project names were chosen by business and product planning director Alan Edis. ‘Defender’ was one of a bank of project names that seemed suitable for Land Rover’s utility vehicle. Importantly, it had universal meaning, but it was already registered by GKN Defence. Thankfully, GKN relinquished the name for a small fee. The first Defender was built in November 1990.

8 LRO Defender Guide


The failed replacement

Most customers didn’t use the Defender’s full heavy-duty capacity, so a new utility vehicle based on the Discovery/Range Rover platform was developed in the early 1990s, called Challenger. Despite its


good looks and superior interior, existing customers didn’t like it. This was enough of an excuse for Rover Group’s owner, British Aerospace, to cull the project, which was also competing for funds with the CB40 (Freelander) programme.

Choosing the 200Tdi

A major transformation was needed to mark the change of identity, and the obvious answer was to install the Gemini 200Tdi engine in the new Defender. This took some time to achieve, mainly because of the conservatism of Land Rover engineering. The 200Tdi developed less power than it did in the Discovery, although in the Defender it was better and also more economical.

Looks good – but this design based on the Discovery/Range Rover platform flopped


Utility or luxury?

With Challenger cancelled, the ageing model needed a new direction. Studies showed a better-equipped model was needed to compete with the Japanese, so in 1992 the County range was revived as a sub-brand covering not only station wagons but 90 hard tops too.


Things get colourful

The County range featured its own set of colours including clear over base black and metallic colours. Looking at the Defender’s wavy panels and rivets sparkling in the sunshine, this horrified the Solihull paint shop, which took some persuading to carry on. However, the brighter colour options really took of with customers.

‘The new colour range horrified Solihull’s paint shop, which took some persuading to carry on’

Pretty in Rioja Red – and plenty of customers thought so too

Defender Guide LRO 9


Big picture

Black beauty

Masai Panoramic windows look stunning when combined with the dark coachwork. They add a whole new level of status to the appearance of the Defender.

The colour choice is perfect – black with silver highlights – but it doesn’t half show the dirt. Luckily Jim is almost as happy when cleaning as when he’s spannering!


Big rubber


I can attest to the on-road performance of the 285/75 R16 Cooper Discoverer tyres. With that big, chunky tread pattern, they’re pretty handy of-road too.

Uprated LED lights (headlights included) give great illumination in the dark. Joe Lucas, Prince of Darkness, has finally been banished to his twilight world for ever.

20 LRO Defender Guide

partner Jerry Thurston meets Jim Anson and his future-proofed Defender Td5 PHOTOS: LAUrEnS PArSOnS

winch Every last inch of the 90 is in pristine condition; and although the Warn winch points to of-road intentions, the Defender is now far too clean to abuse of-road.

THE OwnEr: Jim ANsoN Never happier than when he’s in the garage, Jim has been into vehicles since he was little. He’s done motorbikes and cars and now he’s turned his hand to Land Rovers. The remit: ‘No more rust, future proof my Defender.' Defender Guide LRO 21


28 LRO Defender Guide

Winner BOB & JOE IVES’


Okay, technically it’s not a Defender, but the Camel Trophy One Ten – and this one in particular – sums up why we think the Defender is unbeatable Defender Guide LRO 29


Deep sea


driving a land rover through chest-high waves takes a lot of preparation and a steady nerve, as mark saville finds out during a shift with the royal marines photoS: SiMoN hippERSoN

Turntable system allows Defenders to be turned around easily


cy waves crash against the Land Rover, pouring in over the top of the windscreen and dumping sea water on me. I’m wearing a drysuit and a lifejacket, but I still feel vulnerable – this isn’t an everyday of-road drive. Blissfully unaware, the 90 happily battles on towards the landing craft through a metre and a half of storm-tossed north Atlantic. ‘Can you see the white marker at the top of the ramp?’ asks Phil Royle, my instructor. ‘Aim for it and keep it in the middle of the bonnet.’ This is easily the scariest – but most exciting – thing I’ve ever done in a Land Rover. Fording deep rivers is one thing, but driving

of a beach and out to sea is in a whole new league. Moments earlier, I’d been standing on the freezing cold beach in north Devon, waiting for daybreak and the arrival of the landing craft. Black storm clouds circled menacingly, waiting their turn to shoot hail and high-velocity rain at us. A long, low silhouette slid across the choppy bay, stopping about 100 metres away. The 168-tonne LCU10 (Landing Craft Utility Mk10) lowered its massive loading ramp on to the sandy seabed beneath the waves. There’s no going back, then. This is it. Now, I’m up to my chest in sea water, halfway between the beach and the ramp.

The Land Rover’s got a 500kg load in the back to keep all four wheels planted on the sand beneath us. The ramp is a steep climb but the LCU is rock-steady and the Defender hauls itself and its cargo of sea water confidently out of the bay.

Going in circles Parking aids, military-style On deck, there’s an ingenious Land Roversized turntable. ‘Before we had this, we used to do 50-point turns,’ explains Phil. ‘It took a long time and often resulted in a few dents.’

Once we’re on it, the deck crew release a lever and turn us around. There’s not a lot of spare room – I’m facing the sea again. ‘Feet of everything; just let it walk down the ramp on tickover,’ says Phil. The bonnet disappears under the waves and the sea forces its way into the cab. ‘Now bring in the power. Build a bow wave and chase it to the beach.’ Never has a bow wave been so aptly named. Driving back towards the beach feels far less traumatic than heading the other way. And I’ll tell you this for nothing – it doesn’t half make a huge diference knowing that there’s solid, dry land ahead of you instead of a boat. Another reason is that we’re going Defender Guide LRO 41


LED light bar

Two roof rack-mounted waterproof cases give the additional storage capacity the 90 needs.

With no fewer than 80 LEDs this has immense light output – ideal for driving in the wilderness.

Side storage

Air intake

BFG all-terrains

Fold-down waterproof side storage box holds the extra kit for the Hannibal roof tent.

Mantec’s superbly named ‘Plastic Jobby’ helps keeps dust and water from harming the engine.

These jack-of-all-trades tyres live up to the name, making them ideal for David’s overland trips.

46 LRO Defender Guide

Awning Because it runs the entire length of the roof, this gives plenty of protection from rain or sun.

COLD COMFORT Who says you have to slum it when overlanding? Neil Watterson checks out a comprehensively equipped Arctic-bound 90 that even has a heated roof tent


THE OWNER: DAVID GOULD David decided what he wanted and asked Devon 4x4 to design it. ‘If I said something Matt didn’t like, he would diplomatically try to change my idea,’ he laughs.

Winch bumper Galvanised D44 bumper and steering guard with Goodwinch TDS winch and Dynapull rope.

Defender Guide LRO 47


Buying a TDCi Enthusiasts mourned the loss of the Td5, but the ford Transit engine has been stellar. You still need to choose wisely, though – and here’s how

2007-2015: from £10,000 WORDS: PETER GALILEE. PHOTOS: JOHn COLLEy

78 LRO Defender Guide


he arrival of the TDCi Defender marked the first time in the entire lifespan of Land Rover’s utility model that there was no option of an in-house engine. The incoming Ford DuraTorq engine had been designed for roadgoing vehicles but was tweaked by Land Rover for of-road conditions. Green-oval aficionados predicted doom, but as it’s turned out, Ford’s TDCi has worked well in its Defender installation – the engine has won acclaim

for its incredible torque. Users appreciate the new six-speed gearbox, which makes motorway use more civilised and towing easier. These new models got a revised interior, too – though many people find it seriously claustrophobic! For the rest, it was largely business as usual. As ever, the Defender is king of the of-road, with wonderful articulation and a great view of terrain ahead. The TDCi Defender looks and feels exactly like what it is – an old design that’s been re-powered to squeeze on a few more years’ production before finally bowing

out. As a small 4x4 utility truck it can still do the business, but it’s definitely not the most userfriendly vehicle in terms of driver experience. We’re looking at what may well be the last incarnation of Land Rover’s long-lived utility. Not a bad way to go, either.


As with all working vehicles, condition is more important than age. Better to have an older vehicle with modest mileage and good service record than a late-plate Defender that’s been

driven to death and serviced only when it broke down. It’s possible to find a 90 hard top for less than £10,000, but generally that won’t be a smart and trouble-free buy. Forget high-mileage, multidriver, bashed-bodywork tow trucks. Buy an older example that’s been looked after – it’ll be cheaper in the long run, and you won’t spend all your spare time fixing it. There are plenty for sale, so ignore the rubbish – even if more money has to be found or it takes time. If you want a nice vehicle, then buy a nice vehicle. Look after it and you’ll get some money back when you sell.


The TDCi diesel engine is best described as brutal, there’s so much torque. Originally fitted to the Defender in 2.4-litre form, a 2.2-litre version of the same engine powers current models, having been redesigned to comply with emissions rules. Under the bonnet, it’s good news – John Bowden, owner of Gumtree 4x4 in West Sussex, is very pleased. ‘We’ve not yet had to change an engine,’ he tells us. ‘Compared to some previous Land Rover engines, there’s no real problems at all.’ Sometimes EGR valves are problematic. Symptoms include loss of power and lots of black exhaust smoke. The engine management light may come on, but not always. An EGR costs £89.51 and two special gaskets cost £17.09 from Gumtree 4x4. Add £144 for labour (gumtree, 01444 241457). ‘Injectors are sometimes faulty,’ according to Gumtree 4x4’s Martin Stapleton. ‘It may misfire and be running rough, and warning lights may show on the dash display – but that depends how bad the problem is. It would have to be a long way out of parameters to show a warning light. But you’d know anyway, as the engine would be running unbalanced. We’ve had to replace a couple of throttle potentiometers. On older vehicles catalytic converters could get blocked – the internals crumble and break up, then get blown back to the silencer and block it up, then you’ve got no power.’ Shake the catalytic converter – if there are rattles, something’s loose inside; budget for replacing the converter and silencer. Some early vehicles have a Euro stage II cat (£180 to replace). A Euro stage IV cat costs £660 (you’ll

TDCi lump provides plenty of torque through six gears



0-60MPH ACCELERATION 14.7sec TOP SPEED TDCi 2.4: 81mph; TDCi 2.2: 90mph POWER 122bhp @ 3500rpm TORQUE 265lb ft @ 2000rpm FUEL ECONOMY 90 commercial TDCi 2.4: 27.5mpg (combined, claimed); TDCi 2.2: 28.3mpg FUEL TANK CAPACITY 60 litres

LENGTH 90: 3894mm,110 commercial: 4438mm, 110 station wagon: 4639mm WIDTH 1970mm HEIGHT 2021mm WEIGHT 90 commercial: 1750kg; 90 station wagon: 1889kg; 110 commercial: 2020kg; 110 station wagon: 2041kg LOAD SPACE 90: 1844 litres 90 station wagon: 1243

need your chassis number to check which). A silencer is £174. Prices:, 0151 486 0066. The 2.2-litre version introduced in 2012 includes a diesel particulate filter. The engine bay is now fairly cramped. The DPF requires a regeneration cycle to clean itself, which happens when the vehicle is driven at operating temperature for about 20 minutes in high range at speeds more than 40mph. On short

litres 110 hard top: 3062 litres 110 station wagon: 1325 litres 110 double-cab: 1644 litres 110 Hi-Cap pickup: 4000 litres


APPROACH ANGLE 90: 51º; 110: 50º DEPARTURE ANGLE 90: 53º; 110: 34.5º RAMP BREAKOVER ANGLE 90: 141º; 110: 146º WADING DEPTH 500mm

trips Defenders may never reach regeneration, so the DPF warning light comes on – you then have to drive as described above to carry out a regeneration process, like it or not. Routine servicing can be done at home, though it isn’t as DIYfriendly as earlier versions – the air filter is fiddly to extract, the oil filter is a messy cartridge-type in a vulnerable plastic housing, and the fuel filter (located within a



CO2 EMISSIONS 90 commercial: 274g/km 90 station wagon: 266g/km 110 commercial: 295g/km 110 station wagon: 291g/ km VED RATE 90 and 110 commercial: £210, 90 and 110 station wagon: £460 INSURANCE GROUP 12 LEZ COMPLIANT? Yes

rear wheelarch, incredibly) can be difcult to deal with. The TDCi is shaping up to be one of the best Defender engines yet.


Clutches can sometimes go at relatively low mileages. There is enormous torque, so some users just don’t bother with the low box. ‘It’s mainly farmer’s Defenders, or ones that have Defender Guide LRO 79

How to

JP’s trusty 110 Vehicle: G4 Defender 110 Engine: Td5 Mileage: 95,000 What we’re doing: Fitting acoustic matting to stop any untoward vibrations and provide quieter running

HOW LONG? 4-5 hours

HOW MUCH? ● £396


Just imagine the horrors found behind there...

Halve 110 noise levels

John Pearson has Exmoor Trim’s Moulded Mat System fitted to his 110


et’s be honest, the inside of any Defender isn’t the quietest of places. My Td5’s cab used to be above the ofcial Health and Safety Executive decibel reading for a workplace until I fitted a soundproofing kit three or four years ago. That made a big improvement, but I felt I could do even better: there seemed to be a lot of noise transmitted from the transmission and around the seatbox areas. I had a look Exmoor Trim’s Moulded Matting System, which it sells in conjunction with Wright Of-Road. This tough, thick layer of polyurethane is the type of material used by the construction

industry in agriculture and military vehicles to reduce noise level for operators – just what I needed. The heavy, custom-moulded mat basically blocks sound from entering the cabin from the noisiest areas, and prevents panels reverberating. Fitting the mat is a straightforward DIY job. It’s a matter of removing the seats and cubby box, then making templates from paper for correct positioning of holes for seat mounts, handbrake and any other items you’ve fitted, like the switch and outlet for my on-board compressor. It’s best to recruit a helper for when lifting in and positioning the fairly heavy mat.

The Expert Kevin Nicholas Kevin worked for many years fitting out the interiors of Sunseeker yachts before joining Exmoor Trim and diverting his expertise to the insides of Land Rovers. He’s a long-time Land Rover enthusiast, with a fair few Green Oval wonders in his garage.

Britpart, The Grove, Craven Arms, Shropshire SY7 8DA, England

After fitting, I can report that it’s a big success. Sound levels are reduced, as you’ll see from my before and after test with a decibel meter: more importantly, it actually does feel quieter and better insulated. There’s a real sweet spot now when in the higher gears between 40 and 60mph when it’s a lot more pleasant to drive.

You’ll need ■ Spanners & sockets ■ Stanley knife and spare blades ■ Electric drill & bits, cone drill bit or 15mm hole saw ■ A jig saw or hand saw ■ Long bolts for seats & cubby box ■ Self-tapping screws & washers

Safety advice ■ Wear goggles when drilling or sawing ■ Avoid cutting hidden wires – or yourself – when using a sharp craft knife

Remove the cubby box

Undo the seat runners

Lift the seats out

My cubby box has bolts securing it to the seatbox. These are removed and the cubby box is carefully lifted out, checking that we’d remembered to disconnect any electrical cables running to it.

Defender front seats are attached to the seatbox with a bolt at each corner. My passenger seat has lifted rails, as you can see; these also need to be removed before you can fit the new matting.

Once the bolts are undone you can remove the seats from the Land Rover. It’s worth giving them a thorough clean while they’re out – they can accumulate a vast amount of dirt.

Release the seatbox mat

Remove the fusebox cover

Lift the floor mat out

Ease the seatbox mat away from the seatbox, releasing it from the seatbelt mounts and any other bits that will prevent it from being lifted out. You may have to loosen the plate in front of that cubby box.

The old floor mat follows the contours of the floor and bulkhead, and it’s sandwiched behind the fusebox cover. Remove the fusebox cover with the two knurled screws.

Getting the old floor mat out involves a fair amount of fiddly wiggling and pushing the gear and handbrake levers around to get the mat over them. Work from the driver’s side first.

Remove the handbrake gaiter

Remove the seatbox mat

Get vacuuming

The handbrake lever gaiter needs to come of and if you didn’t undo the bracket behind the transfer box lever earlier you’ll have to undo it now. As some cables are attached to it, just leave it loose.

The seatbox mat can now be removed. Make sure no cables are still connected or liable to get caught as you lift it out – we have to move my heated seat and CB aerial cables out of the way.

Even though the matting has protected the panels from wear and tear, it hasn’t prevented dust and sand from my adventures getting underneath. Give it a once-over with a vacuum cleaner.










Defender Guide LRO 109

LRO's Guide To The Defender  

Love the Land Rover Defender as much as we do? Of course you do… So, we’ve created a very special issue (in addition to your regular LRO fix...

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