Written by independent automotive journalist Tom Jensen
Land Rover owners are passionate about their rides and it’s easy to understand why: Since the first 50-horsepower Land Rover rolled off the assembly line at Solihull, Great Britain, in 1948, these have been some of the strongest, toughest and most durable vehicles on the planet.
England’s Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Fidel Castro and Tom Cruise are among the many celebrities who have owned Land Rovers.
The attraction and devotion is hardly a mystery. The Land Rovers were virtually unstoppable, at home in the desert, on safari or in brutal winter weather. These are truly go-anywhere, do-anything vehicles with a uniquely global following.
The original Land Rover Series I that began production in 1948 was renamed the Land Rover Defender in 1983. And by the time production of the Series I/Defender ceased after 67 years, more than 2 million of the four-wheel-drive vehicles were sold.
Over the years, Land Rovers have been available with three or five doors, as a hardtop, or as single- or double-cab pickups, with all manner of 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engines supplied by Jaguar, BMW, Ford and Rover, among others.
To celebrate the cessation of production, Land Rover opened the “Defender Celebration Line,” a detailed and historically accurate recreation of the original 1948 production line at the Solihull plant. In its first year of operation, the exhibit drew more than 10,000 visitors, who witnessed replica Land Rover models in various stages of assembly, using all the proper parts from the dawn of production.
Thousands more each year flock to the Land Rover Experience, a showcase for the off-road agility and abilities of these rugged four-wheel drives. The Experience is so popular that it operates in 33 countries around the globe. That’s impressive.
Now it’s your turn to step up and become a Land Rover owner. At the 3rd Annual Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction, June 20-23 at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, there will be a pair of Land Rover Defenders crossing the auction block, both at No Reserve and both with the rare right-hand drive.
Each of these two Land Rover Defenders is special in its own right. The first, Lot #746, is a right-hand-drive 1987 Land Rover Defender 90 custom pickup powered by a 2.5-liter turbo diesel engine mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, with a lengthy list of upgrades and improvements.
The “90” designation means this model rides on a 92.5-inch wheelbase, which is about the only thing stock on this stunner. The upgrades start with lustrous custom orange paint that is simply gorgeous. To make the bright hue stand out even more, virtually all of the exterior trim on this Defender 90 is finished in black.
The fat 20-inch custom wheels are black, as are the Smittybilt winch, Heise LED light bar, spotlight, headlights and custom roll bar. There’s also a black Wetsounds sound bar, custom grille, side step bars, rear bumper and off-road snorkel.
The orange-over-black theme is repeated in the interior, where the custom leather diamond-stitched seats match the exterior. And for good vibrations, there’s a custom-built Sony Bluetooth radio with JL Audio amplifiers and speaker system.
And if that’s not enough black, there’s also a 1991 Defender 110 custom pickup (Lot #391) – which has a longer 110-inch wheelbase – that is all black from front to back, inside and out. This one also has a 2.5-liter turbo diesel engine with a snorkel. The power plant is hooked to a 5-speed manual transmission, providing an ideal combination of torque and horsepower.
The black-on-black scheme provides a striking and intimidating visual presence for the Defender 110, but the mechanicals are all business: a high-capacity bed with diamond-plate lining, Terra Firma tubular winch bumper, a WARN winch, rear step and tow bumper with a Class 3 receiver and Rock Slider side steps. This is the real deal, folks.
In recent years, custom pickups and SUVs have become more popular than ever, combining high style with high function. And both of these Land Rover Defenders will doubtless turn heads at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction. Both will sell at No Reserve, meaning they will go to new owners, no matter the final hammer price. Two unique Land Rover Discoveries, two chances to own a very special vehicle.
For up-to-date information on these and other vehicles on the 2018 Northeast Auction docket, click HERE.