Derek And Doug's Fantastic Crapwagons: Land Rover Defender 90

Doug writes:

Most car enthusiasts agree the E30 BMW M3 is getting dangerously overpriced. It is, after all, a 25-year old car with a crappy interior; they’ve all been miled to the moon; and most have been driven hard.

As I look at this week’s car, I’m starting to wonder why it doesn’t get the same rap. The Land Rover Defender 90 is arguably the poster child for overpriced: a box on wheels sold in North America for a few years in the mid-1990s until Land Rover got tired of conforming to harsh government regulations.

Maybe the poster child of the poster children is this 1995 model, currently on sale for nearly $46,000 at Motorcars of Georgia right here in sunny (i.e. rainy) Atlanta. This thing has 55,000 miles on it and a soft top that probably wouldn’t pass muster as a camping tent. And yet it costs as much as a CTS-V wagon for sale at a Cadillac dealer down the street.

The worst part is that dealer’s pricing isn’t even crazy. Here’s a 1997 model with 120,000 miles on it, which means it’s just passing that point where rust will collapse it into two halves of Land Rover, each of which is a significant fire risk. And yet they still want $36,000 for it.

And here’s the worst part: they’ll get it. Why? Because the Defender 90 is the E30 M3 of the SUV world. The mileage, the condition and the price don’t really matter. Someone out there will settle for nothing less.

Derek writes:

You know that whole kerfuffle about illegally imported Defenders that is driving enthusiasts bonkers? Yeah, we don’t have that problem where I live.

$25,000 will get you a decent ’94 Defender turbo diesel manual. You can choose between British Racing Green or UN Peacekeeper White. A true North American model with a V8 will be about $10,000 more.

All in all, I’m not sure I am totally sold on the Defender hype. It seems like a big part of the desirability factor hinges on the fact that they are an expensive vehicle that is equally costly to maintain. Why else would they become the must-have car for finance types in the Hamptons? If they had a “Jeep” or a “Toyota” badge, I bet few would give them a second look. But I’d also rather have a nicely restored FJ40 or Grand Wagoneer than one of these.

Derek Kreindler and Doug DeMuro
Derek Kreindler and Doug DeMuro

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  • Mikein08 Mikein08 on Jun 29, 2013

    A crapwagon it may well be, but it seems to have the look and design needed for a true hardcord off-road vehicle. Give it reliability, comfort, capability, utility and a reasonable price, and I'd likely buy one. Meantime, I'll stick with my Xterra, which takes me anywhere I point it, and with a few aftermarket pieces would take me places (and back) that I might be hesitant to go!

  • Blaz Blaz on Jul 01, 2013

    They look crapwagons to me too and please note that I am from Europe! I would like to see one of these passing that point where rust will collapse it into two halves but the chances for this to happen are almost near zero since these vehicles have their whole bodies manufactured from aluminum and are put on a strong old-fashioned ladder. And that makes them very very distinct today.

  • Lou_BC Ironic, the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that every truck guy loves to hate is in 6th place.
  • 28-Cars-Later I keep forgetting I own it, but the space look on the ext cab reminds me of my 'Yota pickup of the same model year. I'm pretty sure there is some vintage of Hilux which features the same looking ext cab window (maybe '88?) its a shame these things are mostly gone and when available are $1,000,000,000 [INSERT CURRENT CURRENCY].
  • Sayahh Imagine if Ford had Toyota design and build a Mustang engine. It will last over 300k miles! (Skip turbo and make it naturally aspirated.) Maybe Yamaha will help tune it...
  • Sobhuza Trooper Isuzu's crime was to build some damn good trucks.Shame on them.
  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three