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  #1  
Old February 1st, 2011, 05:04 PM
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Peter
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Question wanted: advice for a newbie's d90 obsession

Hello all,

I've been stalking you for over a year now. I've never owned a Defender, but I've been doing my homework and nurturing a small obsession. I was wondering if you could help push me over the edge into actually owning/buying a Defender. Maybe then I could become a true "enthusiast"!

I'm looking for advice on where to start. I'm hoping to keep it around $20k and to get a decently reliable 90 or 110 in Arles Blue. I live in San Francisco, would entertain some off-roading and would definitely use it for the Tahoe trips and as a family/work daily driver (I'm in architecture/construction). The automatic transmission would be a big plus (would ease the idea for my wife!) and I'm also very interested in the diesel engines (possibly to attempt bio-diesel). I know the '97 is the only true automatic, but the ones I'm seeing are a bit higher than I'm hoping to spend, especially given my lack of true experience with the truck. A hardtop and a back (bench) seat for my poor kids/carseats are a must.

Are the '80s models out there still reliable? What should I watch out for besides the usual (leaks, rust, accidents, modifications)? Where would you start as a first time Defender owner?

Also just wanted to say thanks to all the great folks who've posted serious knowledge in the forums. I admire this community a lot and hope to join the ranks...

Peter
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  #2  
Old February 1st, 2011, 05:14 PM
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Welcome!!!

First thing that popped into mind... there are no reliable Rovers.

These truck are over 15 years old and expect to do a lot of work, even if you buy a "good" one.

Meet with other Rover enthusiast in your area and talk to them...

I don't want to deter you, but it's the reality.

Good luck!
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  #3  
Old February 1st, 2011, 06:01 PM
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Jason England
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No defender can be described as reliable for that budget ... they are old, rust prone and brilliant fun! As long as you are practical and don't mind fixing things then you'll enjoy the adventure ... If you are not practical and need someone else to do the work you are going to face financial misery!

I paid a similar amount and have spent several thou since ... Radiator, injectors, seat covers, heater matrix, windscreen, headlights, door plastics, battery ... new x-member ...

like rrc.swb I don't want to deter you, just want you to go into it with all the facts ... I don't want to have to read crap posts of you crying because your purchase needed a repair!

Meet the locals and go into this with eyes wide open ... then you'll have a blast!

This board and it's members are an amazing source of info and support so you'll never be stuck diagnosing a fault!
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  #4  
Old February 1st, 2011, 06:11 PM
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Dave Sherwood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leastonce View Post
No defender can be described as reliable for that budget ...
Disagree...maybe not an auto-hardtop...but you can get a VERY reliable '94 for $18-$20k if you are patient.
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Current Rovers:
1994 D-90 ST #734
2006 LR3
2016 RRS

Past Rovers:
1997 Disco I
1988 Range Rover 40th Anniversary
1999 Disco II
1995 D-90 ST #2731
1997 Range Rover 4.6 HSE Vitesse
2003 Range Rover HSE
2008 RRS
2013 RRS
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  #5  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 12:48 AM
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Peter
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Awesome feedback guys. I should have put "reliable" in quotes... I know the reputation and am fully prepared for a little (or a lot) of tlc on a cheaper truck.

Any recommendations on a certain vintage of Defender that won't just be a never-ending project? I've done minor work on my vehicles over the years and actually appreciated the chance to know my ride better. It's just that I'm a dad now and my truck tinkering time is minimal.

Any favorite diesel models?

And where is the best place to look? I scour the d-90 classifieds, craigslist and eBay. I check the Rovers Out East site and a couple other forums. Any great advice on finding my cheap flawless blue gem? There seem to be a few shops out there doing rebuild/overhaul/project Defenders for some pretty low prices (especially older models). Has anyone had much experience with West Coast British or Roverland out here in the Bay Area?

Many thanks.

Peter
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  #6  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 01:21 AM
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Jeff Labbé
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Reliable? ... If blue is your color, paint your (future to be) Rover. Better find a good one whatever the color. At that price expect repair, alot of repair. Diesel engine are great but not cheap to maintain. 200tdi is in your price range as well as the 300tdi. These two diesel engine are mechanical and not too hard to work on and live with. I personally have a 200tdi for my everyday vehicle. I do about 40-45,000 km per year. About 30mpg if you don't try to go fast. A bit on the noisy side but if you go for a civilian Rover you might be able to ear the radio. (mine's Ex-MOD). If you buy one and become an "enthusiast", you will not only learn new mechanical stuff but, do things you never expect you could do. I completely built mine from scratch and did that outside because since I have that Rover I don't have money left to build the garage I meant building. And when I say doing things you never though you could do, I mean, not only doing it outside but here outside is -30 deg this week. You know when you don't feel your fingers anymore? Well that's when they stick to any piece of metal.... Defender are working machine and I thing you should know that they were intended mostly for that. Off-road is the proper place for them. On road is more like a compromise. You will feel like driving a slow and noisy tank in comparison to traditional car. The feeling is groovy but sometimes.... A pain in the a$%. When people say it feels like it's a safari just to go to the corner store to get milk, it's true.. You never know how long it will take nor if it will make it. Beside that, I wouldn't be without it. It's a passion. A way of life. Don't get me wrong, some people are meant to be living that way, other.. Not quite sure. There's a huge gap between wanting one and having one. Just like me; I want to get marry to Claudia Shiffer but I doubt that in real life I would be happy. Like every body said before we are not trying to break your dreams, just be aware and hang in there. After 5 or maybe 6 years of living the "dream" I wouldn't do anything differently. I'm a Rover freak.
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  #7  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 06:55 AM
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Jason England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMSLongLake View Post
Disagree...maybe not an auto-hardtop...but you can get a VERY reliable '94 for $18-$20k if you are patient.
problem with reliability is you only determine that something is reliable with the benefit of hindsight ...
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  #8  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 07:34 AM
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Jeff Labbé
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For me Rover's the dream, the icon "the" truck... If you're looking for reliability buy a Toyota! See, all the African countries, where there's war or the "3rd world" they use Toyotas now. Talibans use them as well with their machine guns in the bed.. I had a Toyota truck before and my 110 is the second Land-Rover I own. In my experience, if my life would depend on my vehicle, I would go for a Toyota. But as it is not (not for now at least) I can go with the 110 and spend as much time trying to fix it as driving it.. It's a passion. Some use drugs or go drink up at bars, other gamble... I spend all my money on my 110.. If you are well aware of what you're getting yourself into, you might like it as much as we do! Wish you the best X far! Go mad, Go British!
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  #9  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 07:36 AM
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Joshua
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Screw patience. Buy now!!

http://www.defendersource.com/forum/...ad.php?t=29361
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I am talking purely from an aesthetics standpoint.
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  #10  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 08:03 AM
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Jason England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
that from Josh who rejected almost every truck ever imported! ;-)
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  #11  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 08:11 AM
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Dave Sherwood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leastonce View Post
problem with reliability is you only determine that something is reliable with the benefit of hindsight ...

Problem with your statement is that $$$ have next to nothing to do with reliability.

My HUGE $$$$$ 2003 Range Rover was the LEAST reliable vehicle I have ever owned...it was on a flat bed 7 times in 2008.

With any Land Rover, reliability is a little about research and a lot about luck...the price you pay is more a barometer of aesthetics.
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Current Rovers:
1994 D-90 ST #734
2006 LR3
2016 RRS

Past Rovers:
1997 Disco I
1988 Range Rover 40th Anniversary
1999 Disco II
1995 D-90 ST #2731
1997 Range Rover 4.6 HSE Vitesse
2003 Range Rover HSE
2008 RRS
2013 RRS
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  #12  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 09:39 AM
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Joshua
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leastonce View Post
that from Josh who rejected almost every truck ever imported! ;-)
It all worked out for the best. Honestly if that had been for sale at the time, I probably would have thought long and hard about it...and then made a quick decision.
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  #13  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 10:38 AM
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1of40
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Peter, from my personal experience I've never had any of my Rover's fail or leave me broken down on a trail or on the road. I've been driving NAS Defenders (3) since 1997 and I avarage 20K miles a year with a mix of daily driving, long distance weekend trips (3+ hours) and solid trail rides from intermediate to "oh shit" advanced.

I don't think there's a lot of rocket science to it, to be honest. If you are mechanically inclined then much of the stuff you can do yourself -if you have time! If you're not or lack time then I find there are shops, forums like this, and buddies that will always be willing to help. I think the smart thing to do is not rush into anything. Try very hard to figure out what it is you want to do with the truck and buy or build to spec.

The choices seem to be plenty:

- queens that haven't been off road or used yet
- lookers that have a lift and tires but not everything you might need
- advanced that have more than you'll ever need

Good luck and have fun

Clay
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  #14  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 02:46 PM
CDeWan
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Clay DeWan
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All take the Clay and Dave position. I bought my truck with 260K miles on the clock for $20K. The previous owners were maticulous with maintenance on the motor and the rest of the truck. If I had left well enough alone I would still have a reliable truck. I like to tinker so I started doing the abnormal obsessive compulsive stuff with the truck - playing with suspension until I figured out for me was stock shocks and bilsteins. I put in a 4.6 used, bad idea as I didn't pull the heads and I sliped a sleeve about 3 months after the install. Changed back to a 3.9. Tried different tires 285 vs 265 now I am happy with 255/85s. I would love to go diesel but am out of time with a new little one on the way. I use my truck as a daily driver and offroad and it has only left me stranded once. I have managed to put anther 40K on the truck since 2006 and love to drive it.
only advise that I can give soundly is spend the $100+ on any truck and get it prepurchased inspected or buy from a forum member who has a good reputation.
Welcome to the forum!
Clay
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  #15  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 02:59 PM
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sold#1469
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You can, and will, find one in your price range, but you have to wait it out. You will not find a TDI NAS defender in your price range. That is unrealistic. You will put money into any offroad vehicle. Rovers need repairs and less on accessories (unless you want to build it up). Jeep owners just add a lot of accessories with a few repairs. Both spend a lot more than they ever thought they would.

You need to broaden your search from, say, wanting a 1995 Arles Blue D90 with less than 100k miles and no rust. You need to be realistic and understand that in your price range, you have to wait a very very long time to find that, or you buy one that needs a little money here and there and still makes a great truck.
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  #16  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 03:16 PM
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Peter
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Great feedback guys. Appreciate the reality check as well as the enthusiasm. I noticed that no one has commented on the question about Rovers Out East or other vendors... maybe that's just a diplomatic move, and I can respect that. Any other advice on where to look? That '94 that Josh is pimping out is really tempting and looks in great shape. Has anyone in the Denver area looked at it?

Anyone in SF?
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  #17  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 03:35 PM
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Joshua
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilyliang View Post
I noticed that no one has commented on the question about Rovers Out East or other vendors...
Really? There was a thread a few days ago with about all of the comments/opinions on about every side of the coin you could ever imagine on Rovers Out East just two days ago. Defender Technical Discussions section.
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  #18  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 05:20 PM
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Peter
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Can't seem to find that ROE thread... do you know the title of that discussion?

Also, heard that the '94 tranny was inferior to the '95. Any truth in that?
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  #19  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 05:34 PM
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Joshua
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilyliang View Post
Can't seem to find that ROE thread... do you know the title of that discussion?

Also, heard that the '94 tranny was inferior to the '95. Any truth in that?
Click the search button and search Rovers Out East, Land Rovers for Sale, Red Mountain Rovers, Copley, etc., as well as any other Vendor or seller you're thinking of dealing with. Chances are you'll find a bunch of info.

It seems that most of the '94 Trannys have already been replaced with the R380 anyway, so for the most part it shouldn't be a concern.
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  #20  
Old February 2nd, 2011, 05:40 PM
CDeWan
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Clay DeWan
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My LT77 took a crap in 2nd after 280K and that was a well loved tranny. I replaced it with an R380. Not sure what the life span of an LT77 is.

------ Follow up post added February 2nd, 2011 06:43 PM ------

There is a gentlemen here in San Diego that will make you a shifter set up to put in a automatic from a classic into a Defender. He has built me but I haven't had the time to install it on the tranny yet though the assembly looks pretty nice. The point being is that there are ways around sticking to a 97 auto for the wife.
Clay
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