Defender prices have rocketed in recent years, but £10,000 will buy you a great example. It will also buy you a vehicle that should hold its value better than any other car on the road.
To avoid confusion, we are lumping the Land Rover Ninety and One Ten in with Defender for the purposes of this feature, because they are Defenders in all but name. That name changed to Defender in 1990 to avoid confusion with the arrival of the all-new Discovery in the Land Rover family.
With a production run from 1984 through to 2016, the Defender became a national treasure and in that time it changed a lot. Early Ninetys and One Tens had either thirsty 2.25 or 3.5 petrol engines or lacklustre diesels.
Land Rover tried to improve the performance of the 12J naturally-aspirated 2.5 diesel by bolting on a turbo. It added a bit more power, but didn’t do anything for the longevity of the engine. Most have now been retrofitted with 200Tdi or 300Tdi units.
It was the Tdi engines that transformed the Defender. The 200Tdi (1990-94) and 300Tdi (1994-98) shared identical performance figures of 111 bhp and 195 lb ft torque.
The 300-series engine was marginally more refined and it was attached to the R380 gearbox, which was less agricultural.
In 2007 that power output was upped by the advent of the five-cylinder Td5 diesel engine (122 bhp / 221 lb ft) and in 2007 by the first of the Ford-derived Puma (TDCI) engines, both of which were 122 bhp, but the 2.4 (2007-12) boasted 221 lb ft of torque and the 2.2 (2012-16) a whopping 265 lb ft.
Throughout the life of the Defender, improvements were introduced – notably to interior trim, driver and passenger comfort and dash instrumentation. Heaters remained inadequate until the TDCI models, but all Defenders boast that same unmistakable presence.
They also share the same tendency to get corrosion in the bulkhead, rear crossmember and body outriggers, so check carefully before buying.
Forget those scare stories about Defenders all being snapped up by collectors: they are living history to be driven and enjoyed. They’re great everyday cars and £10k will buy a good one. With ten grand you can take your pick of the very best Ninetys and One Tens. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to part with your money, because you should be able to pick up one with a galvanised chassis and perfect body panels, including bulkhead, at this price.
The ever-popular 200Tdi and 300Tdi models are a little pricier, but £10,000 will find you a very solid and tidy example. Expect to find a good Td5 for £10k, but later TDCI models are really holding their values, so you won’t find the best examples for ten grand.
“Forget those scare stories about Defenders all being snapped up by collectors: they are living history”
This page: You should be able to pick up a good Ninety or One Ten with a galvanised chassis for £10k