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Old 10-10-2018, 03:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Defender 90 advice

So Iím living in Spain and am looking at getting a defender 90, but donít know too much about them.

Any years I should be looking for or looking to avoid? Most here are diesel, any thing I should look for?

Thanks
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Don't.......

The chassis dissolve, the driving position is horrible and the build quality sucks.

Still want one?
Go over the chassis thoroughly, paying special attention to the rear cross member, outriggers and anywhere aluminium meets steel, ditto for the firewall (bulkhead) which is also steel. They tend to rot from the inside out. Diesels are all pretty good. Not sure what the exports got but the early n/a engines were solid but gutless, then onto the 200/300tdi and they're the pick of the bunch IMO, followed by the td5 and then tdci. The td5 are common rail and need diagnostic equipment to deal with.
Check the axles seals, all are full floating and full of oil (even the swivel balls) any leaks will end up all over the brakes
Also worth noting is the high ratio in the defender t-case is really low so it'll be screaming it's nuts off at about 55-60mph.
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Old 10-11-2018, 04:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the heads up, I guess the rotting is why some say their frames have been galvanized. I was initially going to look for an older solid axle Toyota but there nearly impossible to find, or a LWB samurai, but also hard to find, and I have a jeep back in the U.S. so I didnít want to look for another one of them.
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Galv frames are a pretty common aftermarket item and go some way to helping with the rot but still need to be taken care of as the chassis are box section with load of nooks and crannies, internal reinforcing webs etc. Also doesn't help the bulkhead or body. People also think that because the body is aluminium it doesn't rust, which is technically true as rust=iron oxide, but it still corrodes like a motherfucker, even more so where it comes in contact with dissimilar metals. It'll turn to white powder just as quickly as the chassis turns red but gets ignored "cos aluminium doesn't rust" SMH.

Maybe something a bit more oddball? Lada Niva, Suzuki Jimny, G Wagen

How long are you in Europe for?
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Old 10-16-2018, 03:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Iíll look into those, Iíll be in Spain for about 2 more years
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Old 10-16-2018, 03:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If you're willing to put up with the issues, keep it stockish and can take it with you back stateside a defender would probably actually be a bit of an investment now they've stopped making them.
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Old 10-17-2018, 12:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Leaving it stockish and shipping it back home would be the plan since itís a pain in the a$$ to mod anything here,(and not much wheeling here) but I know Iíd cut it up back in the states
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Old 10-23-2018, 09:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Unread 01-15-2019, 09:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey buddy,

I love my Defender and can see past all the problems. Defenders have both held their value and in many cases increased in value here in Europe since production stopped in 2015.

My understanding is that if you wanted to do a personal import of a non-homologated car into the US, it needs to be older than 25 years? If this is the case youíd not be able to get a TDCI or TD5, so youíd be stuck with 200Tdi, 300Tdi Diesels. I canít remember the year they were made but it would be worth looking for a SV90 if you want something unique (I think they were early 90ís). They have a black canvas soft top, rear disc brakes but have the 200Tdi turbo diesel. You may be lucky enough to find a V8 petrol model from that era too. You have had good guidance on here pointing to all the negative bits during your search - all Defenders leak, they rust, they break down but you can have a lot of fun with them as well as know that hopefully it will at least retain its value?

If you are set on one, look up a European Land Rover Forum called defender2.net and reach out to their Spanish members. I am sure someone on that site can help introduce you to the right people in Spain to kickstart and help you with your search? They will know the local clubs, garages etc. If you can source one via a club it "should" generally be better looked after / appreciated and you'll likely get some history of it via the club / forum. (apologies Mods if I am not allowed to mention other Forums)
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Unread 01-25-2019, 12:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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FWIW, my thoughts.

Do you fit in one? Serious question. 90's of the vintage you're looking at have a bulkhead behind the front seats which severely limits seat travel and a very narrow driving position. Your shoulder will be on the door glass pretty much all the time. If you're short and perverse like me you'll enjoy the driving position, but it's absolutely not for everyone. The late cars had a tube brace instead of the bulkhead which allows more rearward seat travel.

Both the 200Tdi and 300Tdi have their strengths and weaknesses, but to be honest, any car with either of those motors will be getting towards the end of its useful life as a utility vehicle- it will be moving towards enthusiast ownership, meaning the need frequent and ongoing maintenance. That also means that it's likely to have been poorly maintained for the last few years of it's life because the owner won't want to spend money on it. Unlike in the US (and Australia) these aren't seen as anything special.

They rust, leak, rattle and they're noisy, if you're unaccustomed to a direct injection 4 cylinder diesel. The transfer case is notoriously loud.

Stay away from pre 200TDi cars. The old Turbo Diesel and N/A diesel is a dog.

I love Defenders, daily drove a 2013 for 4 over years, nearly bought one a 200Tdi 110 hardtop new in 1993, and I'd gladly own another, however, I my next LR will be an early TDi manual 3 door Discovery. All the character of the defender but a much more comfortable car. (I have another car for 4 wheeling)

The logical opposite to the 90, also readily available in Spain, is the SWB GR Nissan Patrol. Infinitely stronger (yes, INFINITELY) more comfortable and Japanese-conventional, but just way less trouble. Just a thought. If you totally "get" Defenders and couldn't imagine owning anything else, sure, but make sure you're going in with your eyes open. They're pretty quirky, not terribly reliable, and expensive to own.
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