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  #1  
Old October 15th, 2013, 03:38 PM
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What is the best year to buy?

All:

I'm planning to buy a RHD D90 SW in the next couple of years. I was planning to buy a '92 (I realize it would have to be stored for a couple of years) because it'll have the stock 200Tdi and LT77S transmission, but I recently learned that build quality went down in the 90's. I know LR made some changes in '88 or '89, but which year do you think is best?

I realize that if I buy an older rig, it'll need some upgrades- but that will be an opportunity to upgrade to rear discs, 200/300Tdi, fit A/C, etc.

I'll likely buy one in the UK (trip tentatively planned for 2015) and ship it back.

Thoughts?

Thanks in advance,

Paul.
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  #2  
Old October 15th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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wow. so many question to answer that.

first question is how patient are you to get it?

next question is what is the oldest engine you would accept?

I would think defender build quality is completely separate from any other Land Rover model, and way more stable over the years (not good or bad, but stable).

Figure out engine you want, and bring in the newest one you can get with it that meets your patience threshold.
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  #3  
Old October 15th, 2013, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul K View Post
but I recently learned that build quality went down in the 90's.
I own a 90's Defender, and I'm pretty happy with it. Can you quote the source where you learned this? Many of us would probably love to read it.
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  #4  
Old October 15th, 2013, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
I own a 90's Defender, and I'm pretty happy with it. Can you quote the source where you learned this? Many of us would probably love to read it.
I heard that nothing worthwhile ever came out of Detroit ... that all the vehicle interiors are made out of the same plastic they use for shopping bags and that the engines are complete dross. If you want to read the source ... look here ...

http://www.defendersource.com/forum/...52&postcount=4

See ... it's on the internet so it must be true!
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  #5  
Old October 15th, 2013, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
I own a 90's Defender, and I'm pretty happy with it. Can you quote the source where you learned this?
There is a saying, ignorance is bliss. Take a few apart. It has been generally recognized that build quality was on a consistent intentional downhill slide to improve revenues to court a buyer which happened in late 94 when BMW bought the company. It took time for bmw's ownership to impact things as would be expected.

Take an 80's truck apart and you will find the cappings are galvanized, body panels are slightly thicker, there will be paint and primer behind cappings. Door frames on 80's trucks have generally stood the test of time better than the newer doors (roll ups).

Now take your truck apart. Wait you can't Its been sprayed with bed liner.

If you could, you would find that bare, mild steel cappings are riveted directly to un primed body panels. Cappings have absolutely no surface prep/protection on the backside. Which is why so many are rusting out from underneath and when removed the aluminum is often badly eroded. Many NAS spec vehicles I have seen are far more rotten than their decade older cousins from the salty UK.

That's on body tubs. I haven't found any differences in the bulkhead quality. Although 90's stuff seems to be rusting out faster than the earlier trucks.

Given the current import environment, and that the op wants a tdi, he has no choice but to go with a 1990 or later truck.
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  #6  
Old October 15th, 2013, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Douglas View Post
Now take your truck apart. Wait you can't Its been sprayed with bed liner.
Ouch!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Douglas View Post
It has been generally recognized that build quality was on a consistent intentional downhill slide to improve revenues
I'm not disagreeing with you - with the Defender, it's not like there were a ton of design improvements to the frame over the years; but, many of the bits that have rusted out on our NAS trucks have rusted out on the 80s trucks as well.

The objective should always be to find the most rust-free example in the best condition possible (mechanically, aesthetically, etc.) that a budget allows...and I wouldn't say that I'd paint the canvas black over the 90's years, just because they were built during that time period.

It also seemed that the aluminum was much thinner between each successive decade since the 40's - it wasn't just a Defender thing. Sure they galvanized some cappings here and there, but the bulkheads still rusted through, there was still a water ingress manual, and they still all leaked oil, right?
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  #7  
Old October 15th, 2013, 04:40 PM
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It could be because they began relaxing the pub hours in the '90s and the factory workers were drinking more suds than in the '80s.
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  #8  
Old October 15th, 2013, 04:53 PM
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Generally the rule of thumb would be the best condition truck you can afford. Condition of these trucks has a whole lot less to do with what year it is and everything to do with how it has been used and cared for.

Ie if its been driven in mud and water and then subjected to salted roads, that brine will invariably get into the silt inside the frame that will hold the moisture and eat it from the inside out. A truck that"s not been used as intended and hasn't had the frame filled with mud and water will live a much longer life.

My preference is the earlier trucks having taken a bunch of these apart.
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  #9  
Old October 15th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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Here are two untouched 30 year old 110's from non-dry climates in the unmodified category. We've not seen a 30 year old NAS110 yet but I doubt there will be many in the unmodified category 10 years from now.

P.S. Note the lack of heel marks in the 30 year old 120K mile front floor mats.
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  #10  
Old October 15th, 2013, 06:03 PM
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The more I dig into my '86 the more I find it has lead a hard life. Which is totally fine for what I paid for it and my plan to rebuild with galvy pieces.

But Doug has some interesting points that I can confirm in a couple of other recent things. First - there is a NAS 110 in my town and I drove by it the other day while it was at the local foreign car place. The rear cross member has a couple of holes in it and lots of rusty marks by the bulkhead. This is just a couple things I noticed while driving by at 30mph. My UK import does have some snotty pieces to the frame but... the rear cross is still in one piece. It has to be the original as there is some deterioration to it.

While messing with my rear tailgate project today. I noticed the NAS hinges I took off a few years ago show more rust than the ones I pulled off the UK rig.

In both instances, it can totally be how things were maintained. But like I said, that UK rig looks to have taken an ass whoopin and doesn't seem to be that far off from that '93 NAS that seems to have lead a mellow life (I have seen it in town for the past 6 years).
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  #11  
Old October 15th, 2013, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Douglas View Post

There is a saying, ignorance is bliss. Take a few apart. It has been generally recognized that build quality was on a consistent intentional downhill slide to improve revenues to court a buyer which happened in late 94 when BMW bought the company. It took time for bmw's ownership to impact things as would be expected.

Take an 80's truck apart and you will find the cappings are galvanized, body panels are slightly thicker, there will be paint and primer behind cappings. Door frames on 80's trucks have generally stood the test of time better than the newer doors (roll ups).

Now take your truck apart. Wait you can't Its been sprayed with bed liner.

If you could, you would find that bare, mild steel cappings are riveted directly to un primed body panels. Cappings have absolutely no surface prep/protection on the backside. Which is why so many are rusting out from underneath and when removed the aluminum is often badly eroded. Many NAS spec vehicles I have seen are far more rotten than their decade older cousins from the salty UK.

That's on body tubs. I haven't found any differences in the bulkhead quality. Although 90's stuff seems to be rusting out faster than the earlier trucks.

Given the current import environment, and that the op wants a tdi, he has no choice but to go with a 1990 or later truck.
Good points as always Doug
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  #12  
Old October 15th, 2013, 06:43 PM
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I am with Doug

I have taken apart a 97 and a 1984 and can say that the 1984 had many little things that were of higher quality than the later one.

In addition to Doug's list it seems like the early ones also had superior corrosion protection on the nuts and bolts.
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  #13  
Old October 15th, 2013, 06:54 PM
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The optimal land rover was made in 1959. Since then it has been a gradual decline in quality. That being said, I would not turn my nose up at a factory 200tdi early 90s model, or for that matter, anything through the end of 300tdi production in the mid 2000s.

I have taken apart an 83 110 regular, worked on an 84 110 SW, done a bunch of stuff on two 94 D90s and a 95 D90 and been through a few NAS 110s. My experience is that the degradation between the early 110s and the NAS spec stuff is pretty minor (setting aside the complexities of the V8 EFI and the abysmal NAS 110 HVAC and interior issues) and could be easily remedied by simply fitting the nice two piece doors and galvanized cappings. Yes, some of the early stuff is marginally better, but the pre-tdi engines just frankly suck compared to a 14CUX V8 or tdi.
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Old October 15th, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
The optimal land rover was made in 1959. Since then it has been a gradual decline in quality. That being said, I would not turn my nose up at a factory 200tdi early 90s model, or for that matter, anything through the end of 300tdi production in the mid 2000s.

I have taken apart an 83 110 regular, worked on an 84 110 SW, done a bunch of stuff on two 94 D90s and a 95 D90 and been through a few NAS 110s. My experience is that the degradation between the early 110s and the NAS spec stuff is pretty minor (setting aside the complexities of the V8 EFI and the abysmal NAS 110 HVAC and interior issues) and could be easily remedied by simply fitting the nice two piece doors and galvanized cappings. Yes, some of the early stuff is marginally better, but the pre-tdi engines just frankly suck compared to a 14CUX V8 or tdi.
Christ, there you go with your 14cux love.

If you guys want to see quality take an early 70's Sankey apart. Wish they made Rovers to that spec.
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  #15  
Old October 15th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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1995 is the best year x far!
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  #16  
Old October 15th, 2013, 08:12 PM
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All:

Thanks for your responses. To answer a couple of your questions, I am not in a hurry (won't need the rig for another ten years or so) but I definitely want a 200 or 300 Tdi so if I buy anything earlier than a '90 I'll need to do an engine swap. Whatever I buy will get a new galvanized chassis & bulkhead when it's stateside. Ideally I can find a low-mile garage queen and import it.

Reading the few books I have, it looks like the '88 & '89 models had a few 'refinements' (seats moved in, better dash, etc.) so I am tempted to go that route. But if an older one would have better build quality I am ok going that route.

I am not seeing any imports for sale here in the US that I think are worth their asking price, hence my plan to buy one in the UK & bring it in with Doug's help. I hope $10-15k will buy the truck, then another $20 to get the upgrades done.

Thanks again.

Paul.
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  #17  
Old October 16th, 2013, 08:28 AM
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If you're going to do a galvy chassis & bulkhead why not get one now and do a TDI swap stateside?
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  #18  
Old October 16th, 2013, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul K View Post
Whatever I buy will get a new galvanized chassis & bulkhead when it's stateside. Ideally I can find a low-mile garage queen and import it.

I am not seeing any imports for sale here in the US that I think are worth their asking price, hence my plan to buy one in the UK & bring it in with Doug's help. I hope $10-15k will buy the truck, then another $20 to get the upgrades done.
Paul, your logic doesn't make a ton of sense, but if that's your plan, then more power to you!
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  #19  
Old October 16th, 2013, 09:57 AM
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If you're budget is $10-$15k for a ROW 110 (including shipping, duties etc.), then don't be expecting very much in terms of condition. The best build quality in the world won't matter if every bit of mild steel on the truck is rusted out.
IMO that's what $10-$15k will get you.

Seem like you're focusing on minutiae when (given your modest budget) you should simply be focused on finding a well-cared-for truck of any year.

But, as Josh said, all the best with your decision. We all learn along the way. You asked, we answered.
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  #20  
Old October 16th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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15k will get you a nice rhd Tithonus to a port on the east coast. I bought mine about a year and a half ago and mine is not a rust bucket.
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