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  #1  
Old September 29th, 2007, 01:05 PM
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Newbie Questions (please don't haze me!)

Okay guys, I am a die-hard Jeep fanatic and am making the move to the Defender 90. I have always wanted one since I test drove one back in 1995, but I could not afford one back then. I am finally in a position to get one.

I have done the search on this board and other sites on what to look for and the difference between the years, so I am pretty good on that. Here is where I need some advice: I really want a hard top and I want to be able to take it off during the summer. It sounds like the fiberglass top is easier to get off than the steel one, am I correct? I do like the look of the steel top though. Is the steel top that hard to get off?

Second, is a 97 really better than a 95? I don't really care about auto or manual transmission, or that extra .1 liter the motor has. It seems like you pay a premium for a 97, just based on the year and the auto tranny. I am looking to spend about $25k to keep the wife happy.

One final thought. I build and restor Jeeps and have excellent mechanical skills. Will I have any issues working on these? Are they relatively easy to work on? Can I rebuild the tranny myself or replace the clutch myself?

Thanks ahead of time!
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  #2  
Old September 29th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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Bah, no flames here. Not our style. But lets see how well we can answer your questions.

First one, the Steel top isn't hard to take off. But it is time consuming. The rollcage is also different between the steel and soft tops, so that may not be what you are looking for. The fiberglass top, also called the POE (Port of Entry installed), is probably more what you are looking for in case you want to remove if in the summer. It's definitely a lot more work than a Jeep, but at least the fiberglass top you don't need to swap roll-cages too. Hard to get though, there were only 65(?) of that one sold.

The big reason the '97 is more expensive is mainly in the lower numbers available, and the hard tops. The carpet and automatic transmission also have a part in that as well as a few other fancy do-dads. It was the ONLY time a Defender was offered from the factory with the V8 and Automatic transmission, even the UK never got that version. The carpet and bigger shifter console do give the interior a different feel to it.

Many things are easier to work on than Jeeps, some are more difficult. As far as easy maintenance, the drivetrain is the same for all the years, but the electronics in the '94/'95 are easier to work on since you don't need a diagnostic computer and the ignition system is much more simple. It's got a bit different layout, but functions the same as the GM HEI distributors with remote coils. Nice simple hall-effect sensor with 4-pin module. You can do the clutch yourself, lots of ways to get the transmission out. But parts kits to rebuild the automatic are a bit harder to find, and more expensive. Most folks just get rebuilt units and swap them.

Each year has it's own little issues here and there. Early '94 has a weak transmission, though at this point they have all either been retrofitted with an upgrade, or have already failed and been replaced with a different model transmission. Some years have ignition issues, again there is a retrofit to correct the problem. '97 has a speedometer problem that drives people nuts. And every year truck you need to be very diligent with the oil cooler lines, which is the real big topic to look up. That one can cost you an engine, or the whole truck through a fire, if you don't deal with it.
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  #3  
Old September 29th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans
The fiberglass top, also called the POE (Port of Entry installed), is probably more what you are looking for in case you want to remove if in the summer. It's definitely a lot more work than a Jeep, but at least the fiberglass top you don't need to swap roll-cages too. Hard to get though, there were only 65(?) of that one sold.
POE and fiberglass tops are different. A POE truck may be hard to find, but fiberglass tops arn`t particularly hard to find, so much as they may be hard to find in your area (they don`t lend well to shipping) or in good condition.
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Old September 29th, 2007, 01:50 PM
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This is the fiberglass top, not the POE, right?
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Just noticed the steel top has the tall rear door, so removing the top for the summer would be stupid.

Thanks for all the advice! So other than the tranny issues, is there anything significant between a 94 and a 95? If you had about $25k, what year/configuration would you get?
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  #5  
Old September 29th, 2007, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans
The fiberglass top, also called the POE (Port of Entry installed), is probably more what you are looking for in case you want to remove if in the summer. It's definitely a lot more work than a Jeep, but at least the fiberglass top you don't need to swap roll-cages too. Hard to get though, there were only 65(?) of that one sold.
This isn't exactly true. The POE was a limited number of metal tops that were installed at the port. They look like a regular SW from the outside except that they still have soft top doors and the rear door is a tail gate with a lift hatch instead of one large door. On the inside you will notice that there is no interior liner on the POE hardtop, just the bare (painted) metal.

Here is a good link to info on the POE.

If you want to have a hard top and take it on and off you definately want to get a soft top and put the fiberglass top on it. Unless you just want the look of the hard top you may be better off just getting a Badger top. I don't have one yet, but all the feedback I have received says it is as warm, more quiet and tons easier than the fiberglass top. The conversion from SW to ST is not easy or cheap and certainly not something you would want to do every season.

Follow-up Post:

The POE might not be so bad to remove seasonally as you have all the right doors, no interior and (I think) the right roll cage too. If you are adamant about a metal removable top that is what you would want to find but they are scarce. According to LRNA there were 65 and all are Coniston Green but there are rumors that there are some blue, a white, etc. I have only ever seen Consiton Green ones though.
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  #6  
Old September 29th, 2007, 02:03 PM
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Ken Jagolta
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Andrew is right on the money about the hardtop issue.Been there,done that.Go for a soft top with a fiberglass hardtop.You can easily paint the sides body color and the roof white,so it looks alot like the station wagon.I did it on a yellow 94 and it looks awesome.We were just discussing the painting thing the other day under the help wanted forum.

FYI, Hans, There was a 50th anniversary edition sold in 1998 in the U.K. that was a V-8 and had an automatic trans...

Good luck with your quest..............We all know here that a defender is what a JEEP WANTS TO BE WHEN IT GROWS UP!
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  #7  
Old September 29th, 2007, 02:23 PM
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Yep, I was incorrect there a bit. The POE top was also aluminum, I just don't see either them or the fiberglass in this area at all, thought they were the same. But the fiberglass is what you are looking for if you want easier removeability. The POE aluminum top may also work, as it also has the two piece rear hatch and doesn't need a cage swap either.

There are only a few other differences between the '94 and '95 trucks. One being the tail light setup, I like the look of the '95 better but it has corrosion issues. 95 also had a small number of station wagon tops sold, but these aren't really the one you are looking for. But mechanically, they are essentially the same. The 95's also have most of the retrofits installed already to correct issues with the 94, such as the ignition upgrade, newer style transmission and such.

Given your budget, and what you are looking to get.... I'd stick with a late 94 or a 95 with the fiberglass top. Easy way to tell if you have the better transmission is where reverse gear is. The problematic one had it on the top left. If reverse is on the top right you are fine.

-Hans
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  #8  
Old September 29th, 2007, 03:38 PM
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I think Hans meant reverse is bottom right for the updated trans(R-380).
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  #9  
Old September 29th, 2007, 04:11 PM
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I have a 79' CJ7 I have had since 1981, and a Defender 110. I also had a 95' Disco I. I do my own work on both. I can say without a doubt, that the land rovers are hands down easier to work with than my CJ. The CJ7 was engineered in my opinion to be maintained by factory certified mechanics in a well equipped shop. The Land Rovers were designed to be maintained by anybody on a dusty savanna.

Looking back, I have had many moments working on my CJ, wishing it was as easy as the land rovers were. The most accute difference being anything related to the dash or wiring.

Another interesting tip I found out. The hub spindle nut socket is the same for my CJ and Defender/Disco I.
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  #10  
Old September 29th, 2007, 08:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpsteil
I think Hans meant reverse is bottom right for the updated trans(R-380).
I still have the LT-77, so you are more likely to be correct than myself.

I'm NOT having a good day here today
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  #11  
Old September 29th, 2007, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeep Rescue
This is the fiberglass top, not the POE, right?
Ebay Auction

Just noticed the steel top has the tall rear door, so removing the top for the summer would be stupid.

Thanks for all the advice! So other than the tranny issues, is there anything significant between a 94 and a 95? If you had about $25k, what year/configuration would you get?

Correct, that is the fiberglass top.
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  #12  
Old September 29th, 2007, 09:32 PM
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Thanks for all the help guys. As soon as I find a good candidate I'll hit you guys up for the critique on it before I get it.

One last thing. I test drove this 94 that is on Ebay:
94 D-90 on Ebay

It seemed liked the biggest piece of sh*t. I think 1st gear was in the top left, but my point is that it seemed like 1st gear was toast or the clutch was gone. When I started on a hill in first it wanted to die and I could tell the clutch was slipping. But it left just fine in 2nd with enough gas. It was also caked in mud underneath - you'd think the Land Rover dealership would have at least power washed it.

What was the specific tranny issue with the 94s?
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  #13  
Old September 29th, 2007, 09:44 PM
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Are you sure it isn't just the gearing? 1st in a Defender only takes you to about 1500 if you are really running the RPMs up. They are geared for serious off road use, not like a BMW or other road car. It is a totally different beast than anything you are used to.
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  #14  
Old September 29th, 2007, 09:50 PM
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Probably was just the gearing and not being used to that clutch....

Follow-up Post:

Stmpede - just noticed you are located in Broomfield, CO. I was born and raised there! Graduated from CU Boulder too. Damn I miss that place!
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  #15  
Old September 29th, 2007, 10:34 PM
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j. George;

I recommend joining us at MAR (www.roav.org) this upcoming weekend and you will see more Rovers than you will know what to do with. Just down the street from Woodbridge. We all have our own opinions for our own reasons as to what year, options etc. we would suggest. You will be drawn to a particular year, color, ST/HT, set up etc.

Happy to show you my truck. I will be camping in the upper field. Look for the campasite with all the kids running around! "The Roanoke Group"

Good luck with your search!!

Troy J. Smith
Roanoke, Virginia
'95 D90 SW and too many Series trucks
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  #16  
Old September 29th, 2007, 10:45 PM
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Yeah, I am orig. from the Chicago area but I'm out here going to CU finishing up my degree this year (finally). The weather definitely beats the Windy City and I love the mountains!
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