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Thread: Considering buying a 1984 land rover defender 90 tdi

  1. #1
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    Considering buying a 1984 land rover defender 90 tdi

    I tried my best at due diligence and looked around the forum to see if anyone had already answered my question but I couldn't find it. If I have missed that post, I'm sorry but I did try.

    I'm considering buying a 84 Defender 90 tdi with about 140k miles on it. My question is how costly are repairs and maintenance to a Defender of this age? I would like to use this as my daily driver and to haul stuff around on the weekends. My commute to work is 30 miles each way, live in the suburbs of DC and on weekends would use it to haul lawn material/equipment. I don't do any off roading and I'm sure the Defender will be on roads 99% of the time. I would like to drive it up to Maine or Canada in the summer to see family, how reliable would it be?

    The Defender that I am looking at, the owner claims to have used it as his daily driver before he got deployed. He says there is rust where the aluminium body meets the steel chassis, he sent me a video and it ranges from surface rust to parts where there are holes. How concerned should I be? Besides the rust he says the alternator belt seems a little lose and might require looking into. Including, what else should I be looking for/asking the owner?

    Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

    Hamza

  2. #2
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    A Defender from 1984 is not a tdi, unless they have changed the engine at one point, around 89 to 94 they had the 200Tdi's going into 300Tdi's after that, until the Td5 showed up in the late 90's.
    If you have not driven a Defender before (or a series for that matter) try it first, not everyone likes it, it's uncomfortable and primitive, most people either hate it or love it, there is no middle ground
    The Defender is not a road car, you can use it for that, but certainly is not a good choice for that.

    Find out what engine it has, if it has the 2.5 turbo some had back in the 80's (not the Tdi) then stay away from it, they were slow and unreliable. Rust is a concern, is that the footwell (firewall) that is rusted?. Find out what gear box it has. R380 are marginally better than LT77, check that it operates smoothly.

    Good luck.
    <DCProven >
    <1977 Land Rover Santana, Series III, 2.25 Diesel>
    <1995 RRC, LWB, 4.2 V8>

    "Information is not knowledge,..." Frank Zappa

  3. #3
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    Thank you for your response, I went ahead and asked the seller about it being a 2.5 turbo, the rust being at the firewall and the gear box. Overall, how is the maintenance on these vehicles, besides the age, are they prone to breaking down? I just don't want to be stuck to often on the side of the road.

    Hamza

  4. #4
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    Tdi engines are bulletproof, I know some with over 700,000Km, their main issue is overheating if there is any coolant leak, other than that, they just go and go.

    The 2.5 Turbo is, AFAIK, a variation of the old 2.25 (which again is bulletproof although slow, noisy and dirty) but the problem is that is a very old engine with a turbo on top, it was reinforced but still reliability was not that great. The turbo didn't add much power but it lowered the reliability of the engine quite a bit.

    You sure is a Defender 90 and not a LR ninety?

    It's a Land Rover, there is always something to fix , but if well maintained, they don't break down easily, if you plan to do your maintenance, they are very easy to work on.

    If the 2.5 is on its way out, you could always swap it for a Tdi... or even better a 2.8Tdi as used in South America

    My 77 is really fun to drive, but I don't use it everyday. This 84 you are looking at, probably has disk brakes in front, power(ish) steering and probably spring coils, but other than that is very similar to mine, and I wouldn't use as DD... again try it if you can, before purchasing it. Make sure is what you want, after all, it's a very old car, with an even older design, not for everyone.

    Oh, ...and don't expect to listen to music inside, too much noise

    Post pictures if you want (and have them), we can tell you what engine and what other stuff it has.
    <DCProven >
    <1977 Land Rover Santana, Series III, 2.25 Diesel>
    <1995 RRC, LWB, 4.2 V8>

    "Information is not knowledge,..." Frank Zappa

  5. #5
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    Kelseyville, Ca.
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    I would agree with most of what David said. However, I had the chance to live with a 200Tdi powered 1986 110 pickup for almost two weeks recently, and for me, it would make a great road truck. The previous owner had done some extra insulating in the cab on the floorboards, and another Defender owner who rode with me at one point commented that it was quieter than his own truck, or any other he'd been in. So that tells me that the potential to make them reasonably quiet is there. But it still won't be as quiet as a Range Rover or Disco. However, at 28 mpg compared to the 15-16 my RRC gets, I could stand about anything! And yes, it's actually a Land Rover 90, the Defender name wasn't used until 1991 (though it's essentially the same vehicle). These days it seems that some people call any Land Rover of that body style a Defender...I've even seen Series trucks offered for sale advertised as a Defender.

    They're great trucks but not for everyone. Many people consider them crude and feel that they're not much more than a glorified tractor (though I'm not one who shares that sentiment!) Many replacement parts are readily available, and others are expensive and hard to come by over here due to the fact that importation of them was very limited. In fact, the Defender 110 was only imported for one year, 1993, and only 500 units to North America. The D90 was imported in 1994, 1995 and 1997, I think about 1000 or so units per each of those years. (Though I can't remember for sure, I may be a bit off on that number.) So, if you're not aware of it, the 1984 you're looking at was not an officially imported and sold vehicle here and was likely imported by an individual party. If it's left hand drive, then it was either imported from Europe and not England, or was converted to LHD at some point in it's life.

    You may want to contact Dale at the Rover Barn in NC as he's a very much a Defender (and 90 and 110) expert as that's what he primarily deals with. His website is here:

    http://www.theroverbarn.com/index.html

    He's a true enthusiast and very knowledgeable in Defenders and parts, and very helpful. Tell him Dan in California referred you.
    Last edited by TigerDan; 05-22-2013 at 12:32 PM.
    '91 RRC-4.2, R380, LT230, GDE bumper with Smittybuilt 8K winch, Custom 3" lift, 33's, Equipe trailing arms, Rock Ware sliders, Custom diff guards, Maxyedor HD steering, TT/Detroit, Rovertracks axles
    '61 Series II 88"
    '95 D90
    '94 RRC County LWB

    "There are three kinds of men: The one that learns by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." -Will Rogers

  6. #6
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    Hey Dan,
    of course, the potential to isolate it better is there, even in a series, I know of a couple series that feel like a modern car inside (well, kind of, at least less noise) and also, the Td4 from 2007 is pretty good inside, that, I would recommend in a heartbeat as a DD, with it's 6 speeds and all those luxuries

    You and me (and others here) know exactly what driving one of these is and we like it, but again, is not for everyone, just wanted to make that clear...
    <DCProven >
    <1977 Land Rover Santana, Series III, 2.25 Diesel>
    <1995 RRC, LWB, 4.2 V8>

    "Information is not knowledge,..." Frank Zappa

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