1995 NAS Land Rover Defender 90 #219/500

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  • Location: Oregon
  • Year: 1995
  • Make: Land Rover
  • Model: Defender 90 North American Specification
  • Mileage: 70k on engine, 114k everywhere else
  • Engine: 300Tdi with ceramic coated VNT Turbo
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Drivetrain: 4WD
  • Ext. Color: Bronze Green and Limestone
  • Int. Color: Charcoal
  • Key Features: enthusiast owned, lots of recent maintenance, rust is minimal…did we mention it has a 300Tdi??

In 1994 Land Rover North America imported approximately 1,943 Defender 90’s into the U.S (another 87 went to our Canadian friends). The majority were soft top versions, in either a full soft top or a “fastback” half soft top configuration. These stateside trucks were quite different from their UK cousins. The NAS (North American Specification) 90 had a 3.9L fuel injected V8 for 1994 and 1995 and a 4.0 EFI V8 for 1997.  In addition to just generally being bad-ass, they also came equipped with internal roll cages to meet EPA safety guidelines.

Land Rover kept the diesel engines for the rest of the world, but slowly here in the U.S. we are seeing two things happen…1.) ROW truck invasion replete with sparkplugless engines and 2.) diesel swaps in NAS trucks to replace the petrol-chomping V8’s.  Today’s feature D90 is super-duper special because it’s no ordinary diesel.  Leading up to the production of the 300Tdi, Land Rover produced several forms of the 2.5L in natural aspiration and turbo variants.  

The 200Tdi would soon come to market in Defenders late in 1990 to address what some believed to be shortcomings of the old 2.5L workhorse.  Although it had great sales success, the 200 had similar limitations and flaws as it’s predecessors.  The 300Tdi introduced in 1994 would be the savior Defender owners sought. This translates to an estimated improvement in top speeds from 46 to nearly 49mph on average. Actually, the stock 300tdi is very highway compliant…easily capable of cruising at highway speeds and has no issues keeping up with traffic.

Still a 4-cylinder turbo diesel, the largest changes were noise reduction measures and a switch to a single serpentine belt to drive the ancillaries instead of the multiple V-belts of the older engines.  Power and torque outputs remained the same, yet it was noticeably smoother and quieter than the 200Tdi.  It would remain in production through 2006, but for the Defender it was replaced in 1998 by the 5-cylinder Td5, bringing to an end the line of Land Rover 4-cylinder engines dating back to 1957.

Performance ratings put the 300Tdi at about 111 bhp at 4000 rpm with 195 ft. lbs. of torque.  It realizes a bit lower fuel economy than the 200Tdi, but this one reportedly gets about 20mpgs.  That’s about 65% better fuel economy than I’m seeing in my 4.0L V8 D90. If you’re already in the states and considering a swap, try the guys at Global Land Rovers, they can supply the engines.  They have worked with installers in the U.S. like Mud Ruts Off-road and Austin Rover Works.

Here’s what we know about this one…it was purchased new in 1996 and owned by the current owner since 2008. In 2004, a new 300Tdi was installed by Rovers North at the tune of $24,000 for the engine and transmission swap.  

The paint is not original, the original color was Arles Blue. The chassis was cleaned and Waxoyl’d in 2008, and is reported to be in excellent condition and completely rust free with the exception of the rear cross member. There are rust spots inside the rear crossmember the owner has disclosed, but doesn’t suggest that it is in need of replacing. If ever down the road it did, typically a new cross member costs around $300 plus installation.

In 2012 the owner replaced the timing belt and in 2013 installed a ceramic coated Garrett GT-22 VNT Turbo and ceramic coated manifold and down-pipe.  BFG MT tires are 2-years old and an Allisport full width aluminum radiator and intercooler assembly was installed last year.  Also installed last year are Land Rover edition Scheel-Mann seats.  Some obvious paint bubbling can be seen in the lower panel areas of the rear.  Check these areas and the door bottoms, as they are very common places to see rust.  

Check the bulkhead and the floor pans, as well as the frame and outriggers. From the pictures, this one looks clean and more than acceptable.  The hood latches are fully functional (not because the latch area is rusted out). When the new engine was installed and the full size inter-cooler placed in front of the radiator there was no longer room for the hood latch assembly. Rust is relative, especially on a Defender…but always good to check it out in person if you can.  If you can’t, ask lots of questions or we always recommend a pre-purchase inspection no matter what you’re considering buying, Defender or otherwise.

Nothing we see here sends up a warning flag…the owner is an enthusiast, very active on the forums, knowledgeable of these trucks and more than happy to provide additional pictures or consult if needed. For more information on this one, please contact us and we can put you in touch with the owner.  

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