Rough, but Ready

If You Want a Vintage Defender, Make Sure It’s Upgraded Like This


July 9, 2018 Cars By
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Editor’s Note: We love scouring the internet for reasons to spend money we don’t have on cars we daydream about owning, and these are our picks this week. All prices listed are bid amounts at the time of publishing.

Old Land Rover Defenders are not for the faint of heart and don’t make great daily-drivers, that is unless you know what you’re getting yourself into. Defenders are very much built for utility, they’re brutish workhorses with no frills and even to own and use one as a work truck takes a bit of patience and a forgiving mentality.

Admittedly, to make day-to-day life more manageable with a Defender a couple of modifications and upgrades are necessary. You don’t need to go balls to the wall with a ground-up restoration with an Icon 4×4 level of detail; all you really need is an example like this subtly modified Defender 90 V8 to mitigate the classic headaches old Landies are known for.

Vintage British, well, anything, not just Land Rovers, is notoriously rust-prone. The simple but critical choice to fit this Defender 90 with a galvanized frame saves any future owner from countless headaches and trips to the mechanic and repair shop to quell any deep-rooted structural problems. If there’s one addition that extends the life of this off-roader by decades, it’s the rust-proof frame.

Along with the frame, there is around $30,000 worth of upgrades and replacement parts, but most importantly they’re not outrageous and keep the Defender looking relatively stock. An overhaul of the interior, a fresh Alpine white paint job, and brand new soft top all sit on BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tires with Old Man Emu suspension, Terrafirma steering rods and new front wheel bearings. Less obvious is the improved replacement braking system — everything from the master cylinder, down to the hoses, calipers, rotors, and pads are all-new. The seemingly smaller yet wildly more important upgrades like the fluid flush, new battery, alternator and brakes as mentioned above (and galvanized frame) might not be high-performance upgrades worth bragging about, but those are changes that really make owning an old Defender worth it.

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