The Land Rover Defender. A loud, uncomfortable British SUV built twenty years ago and cancelled in America because they couldn’t afford to fit it with airbags. It’s unreliable, it has few amenities, it’s slow… and a nice one is worth $70,000. And a really nice one is worth $100,000. How the hell is this possible? To find out, I borrowed a 1997 Defender 90 from my friend David (Instagram: DavidTheCarGuy), who runs a dealership that specializes in automotive curiosities. And boy, is the Defender a curiosity. For instance: I am curious why they decided to fit several of the climate controls on the gauge cluster. Like usual, I created a video that details my findings. But I’ve also decided to write this column for those of you who are reading today from a workplace that does not allow noises, such as videos, or music, or human laughter. Now, let us begin. First, we must start with a little history. Although the Defender was sold in many countries around the world for several decades, it was only offered in America for four years. In 1993, we got 500 units of the long-wheelbase “110” model, all painted white and individually numbered, sort of like a collectible fountain pen. Then came the short-wheelbase Defender 90—the one I drove—which was available in 1994, 1995, and 1997. The Defender left the market before the 1998 model year, which is when the U.S. government mandated that all new cars must have front airbags. Land Rover decided… [Read full story]
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