This is the time of year I always think "What would have happened if." - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old November 10th, 2015, 06:13 PM
Paul Grant
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This is the time of year I always think "What would have happened if."

It was 22 years and 2 weeks ago that the Alpine White D90 I had ordered in December of 1992 arrived at the Land Rover dealership in Glen Cove, Long Island. In December of 1992 I was sitting in an NAS 110 on the showroom floor of Zumbach Land Rover wondering who would pay $40k for a Land Rover with wind up windows and rubber mats. I was at the dealership waiting for my friend to pick up his 1992 Range Rover LSE. It was in for some service work. While making my way around the 110 a saleswoman came up and, after introducing herself, mentioned that Land Rover would be offering a two door convertible in the coming year.

This was pre internet days so gathering information about a truck like the D90 was a bit more difficult that doing a Google search but not impossible. Back in 1992 Land Rover had fewer than 40 dealerships all across the country. They had, up until the D110, been only selling Range Rovers at a rate of a few thousand a year. There wasn't a need for an extensive dealership network. That made it a little more than a day of work, calling every dealership in the US to ask about the upcoming D90. Responses ranged from extensively detailed (thanks, Land Rover World, Glen Cove) to little more than the aural equivalent of a blank stare.

So, with as much info as I could glean from the Long Island dealership, I grabbed my checkbook (yes, we really used them back in those days) and went out to meet a salesman. Once there I was greeted with extensive photos of the NAS D90 as well as information about pricing and delivery schedules. I wanted a truck that reminded me of my days of watching Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins and the indefatigable Jim Fowler. So, I put down a deposit on, what I was told at the time, was the first Alpine White D90 in the US. There were a couple of deposits on AA Yellow D90's but I was supposed to be the first person to go for a white one. It was $27,999 plus destination charges.

Well, ten months can drag on for what may seem like forever, especially when you're waiting for a cool new truck like the D90. Unfortunately, things changed for me in a number of ways. So, when I got the call at the end of October that my truck had come in, I was more than a little torn up. When I got to the dealer I saw an Alpine White Defender 90 with alloy wheels (I had been told they were an option and that I would get matching white steel wheels), factory installed A/C, rear jump seats, aluminum upper doors and a ton of other items that I had not ordered. Out the door, with taxes and licensing the truck would have cost around $36K (A/C was just under $2K alone!). The truck was more done up than I wanted but still not really as civilized as I needed it to be given I would now be using the truck for my work.

Standing there in the dealership I was profoundly disappointed. However, the showroom was small and I couldn't help notice a Beluga Black Range Rover that looked a bit different than others I had seen. It turned out to be an LWB but more importantly, it was a Beluga Sable Edition with a dark brown, almost black leather interior unlike anything I had seen before. I was informed that only 200 of these BSE models were imported for 1994 (200 had been made available during the 1993 MY as well). I fell in love. Unfortunately, the model on the dealership floor had chrome Cyclone wheels, pinstriping, step rails and a few other items I was not interested in.

The hunt was on for another Range Rover LWB BSE. I ultimately found one outfitted the way I wanted at a dealership in White Plains, NY. I took delivery of the truck on November 11th, 1993. Since then, I can probably count on one hand, how many months my driveway has been without a Rover. Usually, there's more than one, sometimes as many as seven or eight kicking around. Nevertheless, as the title of this post says, I often wonder what would have happened if my first Rover had been a Defender.
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  #2  
Old November 10th, 2015, 07:16 PM
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Great story Paul!!
I was in a similar spot, except I waited until they arrived- 3 of them, Dec '93- white, red, and yellow!! I looked at them, and looked, and couldn't decide which one?! I had graduated high school in '74 and wanted a Series, but you guessed- they were the end of LR in the States for a couple decades, so I passed. Not this time I told myself- bought the AA Yellow, with winch, full Safari cage, and full s/t- and alloys.$33.5k OTD. I ran it with the factory full tonneau for the first 2 years as a DD!! I did add a Surrey top for rain and the little snow we get here. Sold it 3 years later for a white '97 h/t w/ full roof rack!! PURDY!!
And like yourself, never been without one since- and often with way too many ;-)
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Old November 10th, 2015, 07:26 PM
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That was an excellent read Paul. Thanks for sharing. Do you have any plans of doing any Defender stuff in the future? It's never too late to get into them.
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Old November 11th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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For the last 12 years or so I've been parting out Rovers (mainly Range Rovers and Discovery's) at a rate of two to three dozen a year. I've been able to nab some very nice examples and run them for years for next to nothing. That pretty much takes care of my Rover itch and it's nowhere near as financially involved as dealing with Defenders. I've only been taken to the brink a couple of times. I'm a sucker for a nice 109 or 110 truck cab.
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Old November 11th, 2015, 03:03 PM
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I drooled over the trucks at that dealership when I was a kid.
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Old November 11th, 2015, 08:58 PM
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You know, when I went out to Glen Cove the dealership was in little more than what used to be a small service station. A couple of years later I was having my Rover service there and the new dealership was an enormous. Quite a change over the course of a couple of years.

Pepe Motors, the dealership in White Plains where I bought my truck lost the marque when BMW took over. Pepe also sold Mercedes and Porsche. With the introduction of the ML320 Rover forced Pepe to choose between Rover and MB citing the MB SUV as direct competition on the showroom floor. Given the numbers Pepe was generating with MB the choice was easy.

I don't think people new to the Rover brand have any idea how small their footprint was in the States twenty or so years ago. Land Rover was happy to sell a few thousand trucks in a model year back then. And, that says nothing of the miniscule presence they had back in the 1970's when British Leyland was the parent company. Here in New Milford there is a tiny shop (and I mean tiny) that used to sell several of the BL brands including Land Rover. I doubt they could have fit more than a single car on what must have been their showroom floor. I owned one of the last SIII 88's imported into the US in 1974 and it was one of about 800 sold for that model year, all across the US.
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Old November 11th, 2015, 11:57 PM
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Great read! Hey Paul? Does this look familiar? ;-)

http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/cto/5280674710.html
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Old November 12th, 2015, 06:34 AM
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People always talk about the small amount of Rovers in the US, especially before the L322. Growing up on LI, they've always been around. Not in Honda Accord numbers but they were always there. Of course, people on the internet say they freak when they see a Lambo or McLaren; I see those pretty often. I actually used to do work at a guy's house who had a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder. P38s and D2s were EVERYWHERE when I was a kid. But coming from Jeeps, it is cool to know there are only 5 or 6 D1s driving around in my area.. and that includes two that are friends of mine.
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Old November 12th, 2015, 06:43 AM
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Great story, Paul!


.
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  #10  
Old November 12th, 2015, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D90Overkill View Post
Great read! Hey Paul? Does this look familiar? ;-)

1993 Range Rover County LWB
That's just like the one I had, with the only difference being the the wheels. The five spokes on the '93 were more like the Great Divide Edition whereas the '94 was the first year the Cyclone was offered, only on the LWB. The wheel was offered on the '95 LWB as well with the difference being the finish. The '94 Cyclone color was Anthracite Silver, a dark silver, while the '95 Cyclone was Sparkle Silver a silver color that was more common on all the wheels offered by Rover through the late 1990's.

I can't remember if the "93 BSE came with Mediterranean Poplar wood trim or Burled Walnut like the '94. The Poplar was a beautiful golden orange wood with a grain reminiscent of birds eye maple. It was only ever available in the States on the '93 LWB.

------ Follow up post added November 12th, 2015 10:29 AM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by MM3846 View Post
People always talk about the small amount of Rovers in the US, especially before the L322. Growing up on LI, they've always been around. Not in Honda Accord numbers but they were always there.
I agree with you on the popularity of the Range Rover, especially in the New York Metropolitan area. Like Long Island, Fairfield County, CT, Westchester County, NY and Bergen County, NJ were huge markets for Rover back in the early days. That's why there were always several dealers in the area. The same could be said about southern California. Heck, the first Range Rover I ever drove in was a 1985 Range Rover a client of mine in Beverly Hills imported through the grey market. It was a great truck but compared to what was finally imported into the US, it was terribly unrefined. The old Chrysler 727 three speed transmission was a horrible mate to the under powered 3.5L carburetted engine.

Now, move outside of the large urban areas on the east and west coast and Range Rovers, even through the early days of the DI ('94 and '95) were as rare as hen's teeth. Factory support was sometimes hundreds of miles away back then. Good luck if you were an early, intrepid buyer located in Idaho or New Mexico or any other large state without a dealership.
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Old November 12th, 2015, 10:39 AM
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Nice read!
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Old November 12th, 2015, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Grant View Post

I can't remember if the "93 BSE came with Mediterranean Poplar wood trim or Burled Walnut like the '94. The Poplar was a beautiful golden orange wood with a grain reminiscent of birds eye maple. It was only ever available in the States on the '93 LWB.

------ Follow up post added November 12th, 2015 10:29 AM ------



.

This reminds me of my first Rover exposure.
I found the Boston dealership- which was located in Natick- at a Mercedes Benz dealership- the one on N Main St.
This was 1993. The next year they built a Rover dealership and opened up on Rt. 9 up past Building #19.
I saw all the new 90's and 110's sitting on the lot.


I only bought a Rover cap at that dealership...


.

Like this? My 1993 Ardennes Green LWB Tdi. I believe this is the Med Poplar.
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  #13  
Old November 12th, 2015, 11:16 AM
Paul Grant
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Yes, that's the poplar. It's really beautiful, much more striking than the walnut.

The stand alone dealerships were already in the works before Land Rover was sold to BMW at the beginning of 1994. The plan was to take advantage of the much larger offering of vehicles. From the days of the Range Rover the product line exploded to include the Defender (soft and hard top) and Discovery. The new dealerships all were to have Rover apparel shops featuring Barbour clothing as well as off road recovery gear. The mid 1990's were a time when Rover really thought they were making their mark.
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Old November 12th, 2015, 07:30 PM
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mid 90's rovers will always been my favorites i recall going on a test drive when i was a little fella, we took an swb through several construction sites up and down embankments. my only other memory of the dealership was a green rrc that had the picnic basket in the back of it all set up this was definately before the land rover centers showed up .

i see range rovers (unibody) all over town, an occasional DII thrown in. i never seen classics DI's or 90's anymore. i hate to think how many classics were turned in during cash for clunkers
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