Article from the September 2004 Issue of LRE - Defender Source
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Old September 3rd, 2004, 05:01 PM
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Nicholas Orros
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Article from the September 2004 Issue of LRE

LAND ROVER ENTHUSIAST.

Guys, this is an excellent article I came across for all types, beginners to pros etc..

Page 182-182

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NAS DEFENDERS

The American Experience with Bill Baker

KEEPING THEIR VALUE

There are darn few massed produced vehicles of any kind that have appreciated in value less than a decade after they were originally sold. You may think of Ferrari, some exotic Porsches or a Shelby Cobra, but it usually takes longer than 10 years for their rarity to be turned into reward.



Of the 500 limited edition 1993 model-year Defender 110s that sold for $39,850 or more depending on accessories, nearly all have been traded and re-traded for more than their original selling price. I heard of one recently going for an astounding $70,000!



Land Rover dealers loved them – because when buyers came to realize that the iconic vehicles were less-than-desirable daily commuters, they would trade them in after about six months, take a $5000 loss on the deal and the dealer would turn them around for $5000 more than he allowed on them. And they often did this several times on the same vehicle.



The North American Specification (NAS) 110 with its external roll cage – called a “Safari Cage” so as to not bring the word “roll” into people’s consciousness – was never intended to be a long-term offering. It was meant to focus attention on a name change for the company’s operations in the US – from Range Rover of North America Inc (RRoNA) to Land Rover North America Inc (LRNA) – and to generate revenue to develop the planned standalone Land Rover Centres.



The name change was needed since the company intended to expand its US offerings to include the upcoming Discovery, and, if dealers would accept the Centre concept, the Defender 90.



So, in 1992 the NAS 110, each one individually numbered, was introduced as a 1993 model. Buyers, who loved the funky shape, soon discovered the vehicle’s shortcomings. The most apparent were the rust on the welds of the Safari Cage and door hinges, and a five-speed transmission that was tricky to master. Many a clutch was fried when drivers started off in 3rd gear instead of 1st, doing so with a lot of engine revving and clutch slipping.



The business plan for the 110 was to generate $1.5 million which would be plowed back into the business to help develop and support the Land Rover Centre concept. But at the end of 1993, John Towers, Rover Group’s MD, kept the money in the UK accounts and left LRNA to fund the Centres on its own.



LRNA President Charlie Hughes and his marketing guys wanted a full line of products for the Centres to offer. Based on the profitability of the Defender 110, they were sure there would be demand for the most authentic-looking Land Rover. And by the third quarter of 1994, the first Centres were doing very well with Range Rover, Discovery and the new-to-the-market Defender 90.



The NAS 90 came in with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $27,900, the 3.9 litre Range Rover v8, permanent four-wheel drive… and no top. We’ll get to that in a minute.



On the PR front we planted the seed that the Defender 90 was “the reincarnation of the British sports car of the ‘60s. After all, it had a manual transmission with floor shift, it was a convertible, it was distinctive and (under the right circumstances) it was fun to drive.



The US became the worldwide epicenter for the brand by ’94. LRNA product development had positive impact everywhere. German fell in love with the v8 version of the Defender 90 despite the fact that it’s very difficult to find an off-road driving opportunity there.



The press launch for the 90 was at Brooks Lake Lodge in Wyoming. The setting was Wild West, the driving challenging enough to show what the vehicle could do and the result was great press that included the 90 being named “Four Wheeler of the Year” by Four Wheeler magazine which said, “Defender 90 is the best out-of-the-box off-road vehicle.”



There was also some very clever advertising. One press ad showed a 90 being chased by rhinoceros. The caption said, “We’d love to tell you about the new Defender…but now now!” In another, the illustration was of a white 90 sitting in thick impenetrable jungle. The caption: “For when you are the endangered species.”



Besides extending the line, the Defender was a PR and marketing boon. Just sitting in front of the dealership, it embodied the Land Rover brand. “You can’t buy marketing like this,” Said Roy Grace, charman of Grace and Rothschild, who handled LRNA’s advertising at the time.



Hughes felt the vehicle should be imported with no top – just the “Safari Cage”. There were several options …a fully enclosed soft top made by Tickfords, a “fly top” which covered the front seating area but was left open on both sides, a “Bimini” top which extended from the windscreen to the rear of the safety cage, a tonneau cover and a hardtop which would winterize the vehicle but was not easily removed.



The theory was that owners would choose the top they wanted, along with a range of other accessories, then the dealer would order it overnight from LRNA’s parts operation, run by Caterpillar. The reality was that the high cost of overnight shipping persuaded dealers to stock up on various tops and install them on the showroom floor. The profit margin was better for them since LRNA had reduced dealer margin on the overnight stock to cover the cost of shipping.



The Tickfords top was a nightmare to live with. Most buyers would only remove it once before nursing broken finger nails and frayed nerves. The top flapped a lot against the safety cage. That was solved by wrapping the bars with padded sleeves that were shut with Velcro.



The hardtop wasn’t available until about a year after the vehicles went on sale, but transformed the 90 into something that could be lived with in cold climates.



Living happily with the Tickfords top didn’t include driving in the rain. One of my favourite stories about the 90 involved LRNA’s Dealer Operations Manager, Steve McKnight, who was in a Tickfords-clad 90 during afternoon rush hour on the Washington Beltway. That road is similar to the M25 in purpose, but during rush hour makes the British motorway seem like a racetrack.



Steve was crawling along when a passenger in an 18-wheel lorry yelled down at him, “Hey man, what’s that thing cost?” Steve replied, “About $40,000.” (Steve’s vehicle was highly accessorized). “No s---!” exclaimed the driver. And so they went along for a bit until a huge thunderstorm dumped an inch of rain on them.



When the rain let up, Steve casually opened his door to let the water runn out that had leaked in. The truck driver noticed this and yelled, “For $40 grand, I’d want somet that would keep my a—dry!” Steve smiled and damply motored on.



In ’95 the permanent hardtop station wagon was brought in with roll-down windows instead of the sliding Plexiglas affairs that came with the Tickford top, thus solving many consumer complaints about the Defender. It was about this time the automatic transmission was also added which opened up yet another slice of the market. Most Americans are trained on auto boxes and simply don’t know how to drive a manual.



Defender carried on until the end of ’95 when NAS production for 1996 was suspended because of changing emission regulations that the factory couldn’t economically meet with the vehicle.



Production resumed in ’97, but the end was near. A Federal safety regulation requires all passenger vehicles built after August 1997 to have dual front airbag restraints. Defender had none. The factory could not justify the cost of engineering the vehicle to have airbags for the low sales numbers North America could support.



But its enduring popularity is easy to see when you type in “Defender 90” on Google and find all the enthusiast sites. And if you check the used car value sites, you’ll find that a ’94 90 in good shape may retain nearly 80 percent of its original price. Pretty darn impressive for a vehicle that isn’t all that much removed from the 1948 original.




end
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ok, so I was bored.



Nicholas
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  #2  
Old September 3rd, 2004, 11:51 PM
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"instead of the sliding Plexiglas affairs that came with the Tickford top,"

Sorry Bill, the windows in my 94 D-90 are GLASS.

"It was about this time the automatic transmission was also added which opened up yet another slice of the market. "

Nope, slushbox came in 97.

His other articles have some minor errors as well.

Ron
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Old September 4th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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Unhappy

Quote:
Many a clutch was fried when drivers started off in 3rd gear instead of 1st, doing so with a lot of engine revving and clutch slipping
Muppets!
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  #4  
Old September 5th, 2004, 09:20 AM
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Thanks Nicholas, great article! I have come to realize that the origins and history of the NAS 90 are a bit "muddy" and it is good to get some clarifications.
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Old September 6th, 2004, 07:41 PM
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Nicholas Orros
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Burke,


Not a problem, I came across the article and thought it might have 'some' relevant information... As some other members have pointed out, there were some 'errors'... I believe it.


Nicholas
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Old September 6th, 2004, 09:37 PM
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Well, I bought my 90 in '94 and plan to pass it to my son (now 5 mos old). I want as much info on it as possible to pass along with it. Our NAS's are such a rare breed worldwide, we need to know their origins. B.
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  #7  
Old September 9th, 2004, 02:28 AM
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What did everyone think of the diesel article for NA Views in the Sept issue of LRE? I thought I would stick it to Land Rover a little. There really isn't any huge reason why they have not imported diesels? And especially with their new TDV6 and upcoming TDV8. Lots of torque and great fuel economy. You can't loose.
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Old September 16th, 2004, 01:46 PM
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Nicholas Orros
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uh...yeah...

Just saw this reply... with the HURRICANE's that were heading this way, my job was well... fun. (Now they're starting to listen to me when I tell them to BUY A GENERATOR!!! )... Anyway, speaking of diesels...



and I quote:

"...I thought I would stick it to Land Rover a little. There really isn't any huge reason why they have not imported diesels?..."



You must have missed a great deal of the article...

Well, it's not LR's fault... they along with a # of other foreign manufacturers haven't been exporting diesels here because there's simply just not the demand. Overseas most of the high end sedans are diesels... Imagine that in the U.S.
Now everyone, including me, or should I say most people on this board know the benefits of diesel but for the most part American's have a bad image of diesels... they think of the old Mercedes 'smokin' diesels and run. Also, the sulfur content is an issue...

Nicholas Orros
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Old September 16th, 2004, 02:13 PM
Eric Siepmann
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LR never imported the diesel because of the cost of getting certified with the US government. I believe the certification costs are very high and with projected demands it was never a feasible proposition. Bottom line is gas is cheaper here and the driving public prefers v-8's. Why spend the money to create demand?
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