In 1993 Land Rover sold 525 Defender 110s in North America. Five hundred were sold in the United States and 25 were offered in Canada (a place where a vehicle like this could be very handy). Land Rover had been selling its Range Rover luxury SUVs in North America since 1987 and were looking to broaden their offerings to include more utilitarian vehicles.
The Defender 110 was the first non-luxury Land Rover offered in North America since the early 70s, when the Defender’s doppelganger predecessors, the Series IIA and Series III Land Rovers were available here. The Defender 110 was available in North America only in 1993. For 1994, 1995, and 1997 Land Rover sold the two door, more Jeep-like, Defender 90. The Defender 90 was priced nearly $10k less than the 110 and sold in higher numbers, but never more than 2000 or so a year. There was not a Defender 90 offered in North America in 1996.
Our featured truck is number 106 of the 500 110s sold in the US. It is white with a safari cage like all but one of the other North American 110s. The one non-white 110 was painted black for noted car collector Ralph Lauren (Mr. Lauren also works in the fashion industry). All of the North American 110s have a five speed manual gearbox sending power to all four wheels.
The North American cars all came equipped with air conditioning, and that is the extent of the comfort and convenience frills for these vehicles. In the rest of the world, these vehicles are bare bones workhorses. Compared to the Range Rover, these are uncomfortable and pedestrian. Even though they were lacking in amenities, these trucks became sought after status symbols. They were more likely to be seen parked in front of a trendy restaurant than churning through the dirt to a hunting camp.
The rugged look and perhaps the connection for North Americans to television shows like “Wild Kingdom” and movies like “Born Free” that featured heroic overland travel in Land Rover elevated these trucks to fashion accessory status for those looking to portray active lisfestyle.
As these trucks have aged beyond their useful life as garage ornaments, they have begun to fall into the hands of more enthusiasts (instead of just enthusiasts with $40k to spend on one of these in 1993). In the past year I’ve seen more Defender 90s on the streets than I had in the 10 years before. Some of them even exhibit signs of use off road, with caked mud visible in the undercarriage or spattering the bodywork and windows.
The Defender, in both 110 and 90 models, is powered by a 3.9 litre V8 producing 180 horsepower and 232 lbs/ft of torque. The number in the name of the two Defender models refers to the wheelbase, 110″ for the 110 and 90″ for the 90. The Defender 110 is rated to tow 5000 lbs of race car. Wouldn’t a vintage racing Lotus Formula Ford look good behind this truck?
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