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Old September 16th, 2014, 04:06 PM
adamclyde
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What should a newbie know about owning a Defender?

Hi guys. New member here. I've really enjoyed reading threads here for the past few weeks.

Here's the situation. I don't own a Defender. I've actually never even ridden in one. However, I've become quite obsessed and am seriously contemplating buying one.

I don't want to be that guy though who buys something without knowing what he's getting himself into… so, I'm hoping for some advice and counsel. (BTW, I hope this is the right forum for this kind of open-ended question).

To start, let me share a bit about what I'm hoping for:
  • a defender 110, 5 door, diesel (I think, for the better gas mileage, right?)
  • function as a reliable daily driver (I don't commute, so no major miles, but going to and from beach, errands, etc. I only put about 4,000 miles a year on my car).
  • Play backup role to the primary people mover car in our family (I have 5 kids)...
  • but most importantly, double as our kick butt weekend beach + camping vehicle and the coolest surfboard transporter in southern California.

So, with that as context, my questions for you (some specific, some really general):
  • If you were talking to someone about jumping into the Defender camp, what should they know in advance? (I know a Defender is not intended to offer range rover comfort, nor porsche-like speed. But that's not what I want anyhow)
  • While I know my way around a car OK, NO ONE would ever confuse me for a mechanic. Is this a problem?
  • How much of an adjustment is it driving a right-hand drive vehicle in the States? (I've lived in Australia, so fine with manual trans on right side, but that was while driving on left side of road!)
  • Given what I'm looking for above, are there any models/years to avoid?
  • Is eBay the best place to look (aside from the "for sale" board here, of course!)? I've been observing Defender auctions there for 6 months now. I've had no luck looking for importers. Does anyone specialize in this in Southern CA?
  • Most eBay folks seem to be regular importers of defenders, and say their cars pass customs/DOT, etc. Do I take at face value? Anything to be aware of?
  • If buying off of eBay what are the most common things I need to really look out for?
  • How much of a pain is an after market A/C job? Even when installed, does it work well? (I'm anticipating those long Baja CA treks in the desert)

I know, this is a lot to ask from a newbie. Any thoughts - even in brief is greatly appreciated!
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  #2  
Old September 16th, 2014, 04:12 PM
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Pretty sure you will have a hard time registering a diesel 110 in the state of California.
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  #3  
Old September 16th, 2014, 04:14 PM
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While most of us are happy to help educate a newbie, we field these questions often and even though you've asked specific questions, each has a broad response depending on who the intended buyer is, their mechanical acumen, storage etc.


The one thing that you can definitely be certain of is that you need to look for a petrol-engine Defender because you're located in the Republik, diesel is a non-starter there.


I guess I understand why it would be difficult to search for past threads and answers on this issue because who knows what search words to use, but this has been covered quite a bit.


My only bit of wisdom for you based on reading your post is you're going to need patience. This is not the kind of thing that you should buy on a whim because it seems cool. There are a lot of 80s ROW defenders up for sale on eBay because buyers thought they'd work for them.


FWIW-I use my 110 as a daily driver but what works for my lifestyle may not work for yours.
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Old September 16th, 2014, 04:19 PM
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User leastonce was putting together a comprehensive newbie thread if you reach out to him.
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I am talking purely from an aesthetics standpoint.
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  #5  
Old September 16th, 2014, 04:26 PM
adamclyde
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CA registration for diesel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie Treehorn View Post
While most of us are happy to help educate a newbie, we field these questions often and even though you've asked specific questions, each has a broad response depending on who the intended buyer is, their mechanical acumen, storage etc.
Yeah, fair enough, and I almost didn't post for that reason - just was searching around, and was looking for newbie threads without much avail. Will keep trying.

On yours and the other comment regarding diesel and CA… this is really good to know. The CA DMV says this, "Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles 1997 year model…" seems that I need to narrow down searches for before 97, and I'll be OK? I've searched through the DMV for some time, but can't find more than that blurb from the Smog section.
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Old September 16th, 2014, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamclyde View Post
The CA DMV says this, "Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles 1997 year model…" seems that I need to narrow down searches for before 97, and I'll be OK? I've searched through the DMV
Search here as well. Tons of info.

http://www.defendersource.com/forum/...ad.php?t=48324

http://www.defendersource.com/forum/...ad.php?t=29616

http://www.defendersource.com/forum/...ad.php?t=54192

http://www.defendersource.com/forum/...ad.php?t=50765
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  #7  
Old September 16th, 2014, 04:40 PM
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search here as I believe there have been some disappointed CA members buying what they thought should be okay and learning different. at the end of the day it is hard to go wrong with an NAS and if you play your cards right it'll be a form of transportation, entertainment/hobby and retain value. careful with the diesel Kool-Aid as it seems some do not end up meeting expectations, plus you don't plan to put too many miles on it so I doubt the fuel savings should be a key factor in your buying decision.

clay
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  #8  
Old September 16th, 2014, 04:41 PM
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You will need a good mechanic on retainer or excellent skills and time to fix it yourself, as others have said The People's Republic of California does not like diesel. There are lots of threads about that, search function is your friend. With that said if you get the Rover bug there is no know cure, the people on this forum are experts. Good luck with your choice,
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Old September 16th, 2014, 04:43 PM
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I bought my 110 as a "lurker". It's not hard to use "search".
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  #10  
Old September 16th, 2014, 04:46 PM
adamclyde
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Thanks. Just read all of those threads. I also spoke to both the DMV and the "California Air Resources Board". I mentioned that I'm likely to buy one that has already been imported, but it's in another state (and that it's diesel). They said there are three things that are musts:

1. Customs documentation (obvious)
2. Sticker under hood showing it passed Federal EPA
3. Sticker on inside of door showing it passes Federal Motor Vehicle Safety

IF, it passes those three, then you can register it in California - even if it's a diesel. Of course, the devil is in the details getting the second and third of those may be difficult, if reading those threads is an indication.


------ Follow up post added September 16th, 2014 01:51 PM ------

@10f40 Thanks. Sounds like path of least resistance is the petrol, so I'll broaden out - particularly if some don't find the diesel much of a benefit.
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  #11  
Old September 16th, 2014, 04:54 PM
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You need to drive one and then consider your other questions plus what has already been posted.

It is a much different driving experience than what you might expect especially if you've never owned any Rover.
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  #12  
Old September 16th, 2014, 05:23 PM
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Diesel powered imports will not have these as they were never federalized:

Sticker under hood showing it passed Federal EPA

Sticker on inside of door showing it passes Federal Motor Vehicle Safety


There are ways to acquire a diesel Defender for use in CA but all carry various levels of risk and effort.
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  #13  
Old September 16th, 2014, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamclyde View Post
Yeah, fair enough, and I almost didn't post for that reason - just was searching around, and was looking for newbie threads without much avail. Will keep trying.

On yours and the other comment regarding diesel and CA… this is really good to know. The CA DMV says this, "Currently, smog inspections are required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles 1997 year model…" seems that I need to narrow down searches for before 97, and I'll be OK? I've searched through the DMV for some time, but can't find more than that blurb from the Smog section.


No worries, you've got to start the vetting process somewhere. Just that these threads inevitably turn into an opinion-fest that doesn't really help the original intent.
Drive one might be the best advice yet.


your needs may evolve like mine dis as well. Keep that in mind. I started looking for my Defender in 2008 and thought I just wanted a beach buggy. How I ended up with a daily driver is my story. Yours could be different.


One thing is probably true regardless what direction you decide. Unless you've got deep pockets this will take time and patience to find the right one. I'm sure you could go out to any number of state-side sellers and drop six figures on a perfect restored 110 that would immediately meet all your needs right out of the box, but I'm guessing that's not you.
Transporting a family of 5 reliably, safely and comfortably will likely run you over $30,000 possibly over $40,000 and even then you'll have to be patient. Kids love them. In fact everyone but high-maintenance "Prada wives" loves them.
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  #14  
Old September 16th, 2014, 05:36 PM
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Decide what your "final" goal is for the truck.

Determine the amount of time and money it will take to get to that goal.

Double it
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Old September 16th, 2014, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blueboy View Post
You need to drive one and then consider your other questions plus what has already been posted.

It is a much different driving experience than what you might expect especially if you've never owned any Rover.
I'll never be able to put this context into such a nutshell.
But that's right!
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Old September 16th, 2014, 05:51 PM
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It's not even Friday yet.
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