Former Fire Truck: 1984 Land Rover Defender 110

Despite predictions otherwise, the novelty factor surrounding former fire apparatuses and first responder vehicles from overseas has not subsided. Japanese fire trucks, British rescue vehicles, Italian police cars – the list goes on. And while they are rare as heck to find stateside, it’s not necessarily a guarantee of finding a buyer as appreciative as the seller of their vehicle’s unicorn factor. This is a 1984 Land Rover Defender 110 that previously did duty in the UK as part of the Cheshire Fire Service. It’s in Torrance, California now, but I remember seeing it closer to home when Boston-area Land Rover dealer Copley Motorcars had it in stock. Find it here on craigslist for $16,500.

Now, I for one understand some of the appeal here: you’re the only one at the car show with a British market fire truck, and likely the only Defender 110, t00. But if I’m going to drive a novelty, I’d like for it to at least be useful in some other capacity. A “naked” Defender 110 is at least a truck you can use for various and sundry activities; a fire truck that presumably still has all sorts of gear inside, not to mention custom fittings that might get in the way of easily adding roof racks or a trailer hitch, becomes more of an inconvenience if you wish to use it for anything other than display purposes. And God help you if you’re a wallflower, because you won’t be able to drive something like this through traffic without becoming someone’s Instagram post.

The good news is the truck is very clean inside and out, aside from some paint fading on the exterior. The interior is trimmed in just the basic necessities, but what is there appears to be in good order. Apparently, no matter which side of the ocean a former fire truck is found on, the limited use these trucks see translates into fairly minty specimens. The seller claims the lights are still operable but doesn’t mention any sirens. The Land Rover is powered by a carbureted V8 engine paired to a four speed manual, and of course, it is right hand drive. Shifting with your left hand isn’t all that hard, but it does take some getting used to. There’s no mention of rust and I don’t see any bodywork needs in the photos.

The rear bulkhead is obviously a feature unique to the firetrucks and apparently offers some additional storage; however, given the traditional setup for a Land Rover Defender 110, enthusiasts may find this setup less than ideal given it blocks access to the rear-most sections of the truck. Now, I get that it’s not exactly fair to consider this a 110 at the moment, given it was converted eons ago to become a firefighting rig, so most buyers would presumably go into this purchase eyes wide open. The Land Rover was apparently listed in the March 2020 auction at Mecum Glendale where it went unsold; given the seller clearly states in his listing that “…it needs to go,” it would seem the novelty of a British-market fire truck has worn off.

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Comments

  1. LarryinMA

    Interesting…I was at the March 2020 Glendale Mecum auction, and I didn’t see it there. Pretty sure I would have remembered this.

    Disappointing the seller didn’t provide very many photos – a buyer really needs to know what they’d be getting into with a rig like this .

    Like 1
  2. Matt Watson

    If you want to know more about this car Google Image search DMB901X.

    These are the probably the most useful results:
    https://www.handh.co.uk/auction/lot/80-1981-land-rover-109-fire-appliance/?lot=15901&sd=1
    https://www.landroversonly.com/threads/1981-land-rover-stage-one-v-8-fire-truck.124273/

    And for its MOT History enter the registration number (DMB901X) into:
    https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk/
    and expand the section (the current mileage is probably genuine)

    Like 2
  3. Tony Henderson

    Not a 110, it’s a Series 3, so 109″…….. Leaf springs and split screen.

  4. Troy

    I think this thing would just be fun, I would have to repaint it to get rid of the fire truck look I think it could Easily be converted into a weekend out in the middle of nowhere rig

  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking truck. I remember when the Land Rover Defender looked like this. I prefer this generation any day over the current version of the Defender. I’ll take mine with a 2.8 litre 4 cyl. turbo diesel engine and an automatic gearbox if available. And if you’re going to advertise something online to sell, post more pics. The more, the merrier. 7 pictures is nowhere near enough to show.

  6. steve

    Yeah, I’m going to be “that guy”. It is not a Defender. It is not a 110. It is a Stage 1 V8 109.
    Land Rover, even more than most manufacturers, cannot afford to make an “all new” vehicle. They do it in “stages”. So, these are basically the existing Series 3 vehicles which have the first upgrades towards the new models. It got the V8 and the heavier transmission and transfer case. They had to shove the radiator support forward to make room. It kept the leaf springs; axles and most of the rest of the existing vehicles. Only later did they change axke and springs and chassis to make it a 110.

    Like 2
  7. Howie Mueler

    Looks cool, posted 8 days ago.

  8. GBRBill

    Steve’s correct – this is a Series 3 Stage One V8. The big difference between a Series and a Defender is the suspension. Series have leaf springs and Defenders have coil springs. In one of the pictures you can clearly see the rear shackles and leaf spring. If you are interested in this kind of rig, it shouldn’t make much difference on the value and at $16K, that seems like a very reasonable price.

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