By on October 15, 2010

Since today’s theme is the rapidly shrinking offering of genuine off-roaders available in the land of the free, here’s one that’s not on the list. That didn’t keep this owner from getting it registered in Oregon, along with several other “illegal aliens” I’ve nabbed so far.

It’s got the desirable diesel too. Ready for an around-the-world journey; or did it already do that and end up in Eugene?

A glance in the back window shows a cook-top and sink.

I’m going to have to acquaint myself with Oregon’s laws to figure out how all these forbidden imports are seeping through our borders, so I can start my wish list.

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33 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: Forbidden Fruit...”

  • avatar

    LHD – obviously Canadian.

  • avatar

    Rather refreshing in its simplicty given all the Chelsea tractor’s clogging the motorways.

  • avatar

    In 1993, Land Rover brought 500 Defender 110s to the US, but they were equipped with V8 engines.

    • 0 avatar

      A friend bought a later model one of these with the newer BMW made TD5 engine a few years back. The reality of owning these trucks is quite different to the romance, it had a few trips on the back of flat bed under warranty due to a poorly designed clutch master cylinder.
      Note how the spare wheel is mounted on the bonnet any not on the OEM bracket on the rear door? The reason for this is that the hinges on the rear door cannot hold the weight of the wheel and over time (i.e. within the warranty period) it starts to sag.
      Like all classic designs, it takes some commitment on the part of the owner to put up with the “experience”.

    • 0 avatar

      “A friend bought a later model one of these with the newer BMW made TD5 engine a few years back.”
      BMW neither made or designed the Td5 (except vicariously through owning Rover). The Td5 was developed from the Rover L-Series engines as part of what was called ‘Project Storm’

  • avatar

    Love it. Nothing else to say here.

  • avatar

    That ground clearance is not something taken lightly. That car means business…

  • avatar

    It reminds me of one of my favorite early childhood show, Daktari.

    It sure is a beauty. That thing has “built with a purpose” written all over it.

  • avatar

    Having seen a few Defender 110s in Oregon, the best guesses are, get the thing into the country any which way and then register where you don’t need an emissions test since Oregon doesn’t have a safety inspection. The other option would be to start with some sort of US legal Defender or even a series III and rebuild to suit using a replacement chassis and a mix of new and used body and mechanicals.
    For reference this is definitely not one of the US spec 1993 110s, although they were all white, since it does not have the old style air conditioner setup, external roll cage and giant tail lights.

    • 0 avatar

      One key thing however, is that the model can NOT be one that was for sale in the US at the time. The example of the BMW below is a good case in point, if there was a E36 M3 for sale in the US, you can’t legally import the foreign version.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Once they’re 25 years old, it’s all good.
    Importing US market forbidden fruit is going to get fun around 2015-2020. E36 M3/4 with the real 3.2 liter engine instead of the greatly detuned US-spec engine, anyone?

    • 0 avatar

      I think that’s the key.  Once a car is 25 years old, it can be imported legally to the US without having to be subjected to a load of ‘type approval’ tests.  Since a modern day Landrover is virtually indistinguishable from a 30 or even 40 year old one, it is possible to re-register / re-VIN newer ones as older models and then import them.   This is, of course, not legal, but it is relatively difficult to detect.
      Another timeless classic that was only briefly imported to the US is the Austin/Morris/Rover Mini.  There’s plenty of late 80s and 1990s models in the US that have no business being here but are.  A few years ago I saw a Massachusetts registered Mk VII (1996-2000) Mini Cooper complete with an airbag, huge factory wheels and fuel injection.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly. Once you hit that it is pretty well open season (depending on State of residence).
      Regardless, I’ve never had any trouble in 25 years of importing as “parts” anything that differenciates any RoW product from the US version.
      One can handily pass any state emission test (including CA) with a Euro motor/ Euro motor guts. I pass in dyno test states with euro-engine + cats without fail. Including CA, as the most knowledgeable inspector will not be able to see that I have a “non-conforming” motor.
      It requires a few IQ point, but the system is still gameable…

    • 0 avatar

      Swapping a VIN from an older Landy is exactly what some people in the UK do as well. By claiming that your practically brand new Defender is a ‘rebuild’ of a pre 1973 example (when the only item from the older vehicle is a piece of steel from the bulkhead welded onto your new landrover), your vehicle becomes exempt from road tax as well as being able to go for ‘classic’ insurance.

  • avatar

    I have seen dozens of these in the US, all over.  There is a few Rover restoration shops and they are always building up one or another of these.  Possibly a Canadian import?  Or maybe a Rover utility vehicle from fleet sales (which I think are available in the US)?  For whatever reason, they seem to be easy to import.  It could also be a 1993 model that was beat up and converted to a diesel??

  • avatar

    That and the G-Wagen are going to be discontinued in Europe after 2013-2014 IIRC.
    In Australia and other places Toyota sells the FJ70, with a V8 diesel.

  • avatar

    Land Rover never exported 110s or 130s to Canada, all we ever got were the 90s with a V8 too. We can import them at 15 years old, but they still can’t be exported to the USA until they hit 25.

    My bet is that it’s either a 25-year-old model that’s been retrofitted and restored, or a product of East Coast Rover Company (

  • avatar

    I love seeing people register cars illegally that arent’ offered here. I’d love to drive around showing off a Mitsubishi FTO, R34 Skyline or Accord Euro R. At least I get to see them when I go on vacation. Oh and the Impreza turbos from the nineties, the lighter blue paint is pretty.

  • avatar

    As my wife would say when rationalizing her desire for this car: “it roves the land!”

  • avatar

    There was one BMW engine fitted to Defender (2.8 petrol) but they were made in South Africa and only came in RHD. What a shame we could not get them in the US. Then again converting a RHD Defender into LHD can be done “easily.” I think they were made in 2000 so we just have another 15 years to wait.

  • avatar

    I have a cousin in Eugene, she keeps telling me I need to visit. I’m starting to think I need to move!

  • avatar

    My best guess is that this is one of those Defenders that were imported and then modified with the Tdi engine, OR it is a very old example that has been modded to a more current spec.
    This place seems to do a bang-up job with it!

  • avatar

    Pretty much every second car in the Highlands and Islands here is one of these – I love ’em.
    Paul, a request/suggestion spurred partly by this and partly by the recent handful of French CCs – would it be possible to have a regular Curbside Classics Abroad feature? (regular in the way Trucks have become regulars at the weekends I mean)
    I’m avid fan of the series, but being a non-american very few of the cars featured are cars I’ll ever have had the chance to see, so I never go for the clues – and I suspect I’m not alone. If there were a regular slot when we knew the upcoming CC would definitely be something originating from outside the US it might make the guessing fun for the rest of us too?
    Just a thought. However you structure it, please keep them coming!

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      splateagle,  If someone wants to send me abroad, I’d be happy to oblige. Most of the cars I find here are imports, of course. And pointing out that a CC Clue is specifically for a foreign car would be a big hint.
      But I get your point, and I’ll consider it. Thanks.

  • avatar

    Haphazardly repaired corrosion can be seen along the door sill below the Tdi sticker.

    • 0 avatar

      You are sorely mistaken regarding the corrosion…The bodies of Defenders are famously made from an Aluminium/magnesium alloy called ‘BirmaBright’ (ie Birmingham/Bright). Only their chassis rusts.
      The alloy body is the whole reason for there being a Land-Rover in the first place. You see after the war, car companies in the UK faced rationing for steel – they were allocated steel only on the basis of how many cars they’d exported. The Rover car company came up with the plan of designing a vehicle that would A) Primarily be exported (Africa, Australia etc..) , B) used in protected industries which also gave a steel credit (ie Farming) and C) Minimised the useage of steel. Aluminium alloys, were in great abundance after the war due to so many surplus airframes being scrapped, so Rover used this material to a greater or lesser extent in all their cars, but none more so than the Land-Rover.
      So what you see on that sill is most assuredly not rust.

    • 0 avatar

      ‘Only their chassis rust.’
      My Grandfathers 1953 SWB is currently on its 3rd chassis! A combination of galvanic corrosion and living by the seaside has lead to a lot of sweating and cursing as you unbolt everything and swap it over. Fortunately land rovers are very easy to work on.

    • 0 avatar

      It actually CAN be corrosion, although an electrochemical one. Oh, and not all Defender’s body panels are aluminum any more.

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