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Great Off-Roader: 1987 Land Rover Defender

While it might not be a vehicle that is dripping with creature comforts and luxury appointments, one thing that the Land Rover Defender is renowned for is its ability to take its occupants into some pretty rugged and inhospitable terrain. While this particular Defender looks like it has done a bit of work, it doesn’t look like it has been abused, which might make it a good alternative for someone looking at accessing the great outdoors. Located in Miami, Florida, the Defender is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $24,000 for the Defender, but you could always make him an offer.

Judging by the braced roll-bars that are fitted to the Land Rover, it looks like the owner has been taking his safety pretty seriously. However, it doesn’t look like these have ever been put to the test, as the vehicle is quite straight. The owner says that it is always kept under cover, and while he says that it has very little rust, he doesn’t elaborate on where this rust is located. The paint looks a bit dull, but I think that it might respond well to a buff and polish.

When it comes to assessing the condition of the interior of the Defender, the list is pretty short. Carpet? No. Door trims? No. Dash pad? No. Seats? No…wait, yes! The Defender has been set-up as a 4-seater, but there is scope for increasing this number. The upholstery material on the seats all appears to be in good condition. I joke about the interior, but the reality is that there are a lot of painted surfaces inside a Defender, and scratches can make the interior look pretty tatty. However, this one actually looks quite good.

Powering the Defender is the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine, which is backed by a 5-speed manual transmission. This is said to be the original motor, and with the Defender having only covered 21,700 miles, it would be barely run in. The owner says that the Defender runs perfectly and that it has no leaks. These are not a fast vehicle. In fact, down-hill with a tail-wind should see you hit about 70mph. That’s not what these are about, though. What they are about is flat engine torque delivery and incredible off-road capability. They feel very agricultural on the road, but these are a vehicle that comes into their own when the going gets tough.

This 1987 Land Rover Defender looks to be a pretty reasonable vehicle, but I really would like to know a bit more about the “little rust” that the owner mentions. If that truly is minor, then this would be a good option for anyone who wants a vehicle that can get them deep into the great outdoors. If comfort is not your highest priority, then this is a vehicle that is worth considering.


  1. Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

    The Brits version of the Jeep Scrambler-excellent machines.
    In the early ‘60’s I recall the Guardia Civil in Madrid had something like this with 4-6 troops exiting the back, rifles slung across their shoulders. It was a tough rig, as much at home on mountain goat trails as it was shouldering its way through traffic with lights and siren wailing.

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  2. OhU8one2

    So its not a U.S. spec Rover. The diesel is noisey and shakes some when under load. Parts are obtainable if your willing to wait. I myself would rather have the Buick V-8. You can build it to whatever horsepower in reason. Besides the dull paint, Rover’s were painted with single stage paint so a good buff should bring the shine back, but plan on polishing every six months to keep it nice.

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  3. h5mind

    We recently returned from a year in Spain, where my wife has citizenship. These are still plentiful there, especially the ‘Santana’ variety which was the same vehicle built under license from Rover. Having seen both, I would argue that the Santana’s are better than their English cousins, because whereas the Brits tended to consider defaults and failings as part of their vehicles’ Olde World Charm, the Spaniards continually improved their version. Additional bonus is the Santana’s tend to sell for less than their English counterparts due to the “inferior” name cache.

    Like 1
  4. Tony

    Ex military so “dull” paint is simply standard matte finish.

    Like 3
  5. RayT Member

    I’ve never driven a diesel Landie, but did take a V8 Defender on the Rubicon Trail once, after driving it from Los Angeles to Northern California. Compared to my father’s old IH Scout, it was like riding in a Rolls-Royce!

    These are fine off-road machines, and sturdy. The aluminum body doesn’t like coming up against rocks — neither do sheet-metal panels, of course — but that’s just about the only problem I recall. Certainly, it did just as well as a Jeep….

    The diesel wouldn’t be my first choice, for sure, but if I had a farm, ranch, or was looking for something to use only in the woods, I’d check this out.

    I’m surprised the Dreaded P-Word hasn’t cropped up for this one yet!

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    • OhU8one2

      Sorry, I must be getting Oh El Dee? I’m not sure what the P-Word is? Could you enlighten me?

      Like 0
  6. Nevada1/2rack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Naw, you’re not old yet, OhU8one2. The “P” word referred to is“Patina”-instead of saying “the paint is cr@p”, there’s been a avid, active and ongoing dialogue discussing the look of that originality vs laying on a fresh coat of paint.

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    • RayT Member

      Funny thing about that: I’ve never seen a fresh-from-the-factory car equipped with surface rust (on purpose, anyway!) or faded/peeled paint. Guess I just don’t get around that much….

      Having experienced some new-cars-that-got-old, fresh paint has never bothered me. In fact, it seemed quite normal for a car that was driven and not “collected.” I shamefacedly admit I have replaced original radios and made engine/suspension mods to a few as well. Forgive me, for I knew not what I did!

      Like 2
  7. TimM

    4 cylinder diesel!! Probably gets 25 mpg!! This thing is just my style!!

    Like 0

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