LAND ROVER DEFENDER Overland Builds
Land Rover Overland, The perfect adventure vehicle
Land Rover has always had a cult following, and the new Defender is no different. They have brought back the Defender and gone after a different demographic than the original.
The Original Series I, II, III, and Defender were tractors. The diesel was a workhorse, body panels didn’t line up well, and they were uncomfortable over long distances. What Land Rover did well was create a certain nostalgia around this vehicle that created a cult following. I’ve owned a Land Rover Discovery II, a NAS Defender 90, and a NAS Land Rover Defender 110, so I get it.
The original Defender is a vehicle that takes a good amount of attention. The Lucas wiring on the NAS models was a weak point and the simple things go wrong where you will carry extra parts on trips that you knew had a good chance of failing. But here’s the thing, if you look at a NAS Defender from the 90s today, they are likely in better shape than a Jeep YJ from the same era. The new Defender II is a different animal.
Let’s start where Defender II pays homage to the original. You can get steel wheels, a raised air intake, a front winch mount, and a spare wheel on the back gate. Land Rover offers the original Defender models with the 90 and 110, now the Defender 130. You can get a modified version of the Defender overland build right from the dealership. This is where it changes. The new Defender has more in common with the Discovery to the point I wish they would have just called it the Discovery.
You have the trim levels of S, SE, and HSE. They come with an air suspension that rides amazingly and is a great thought off-road as long as electrical gremlins and time don’t get in the way. The Land Rover Defender II is an extremely comfortable vehicle at any trim level and very capable off-road. The higher models come with 20” rims and require a different brake caliper to run a more appropriate 18” wheel for an off-road/overland build.
The base model will likely have fewer electrical issues and comes with an 18” steel wheel. You can add plenty to fix it up the way you want, and the price point leaves plenty of room for future modifications compared to the top model.
There are aftermarket options for the Defender II. That being said, just like any first-year production model, the first run out of the shute is never how good it will be after a few years. We have installed parts from manufacturers and had to make a good amount of them fit through further fab work. We’ve also made our parts in-house as one-off solutions for our clients. Give it time, and more products will hit the market as demand increases.
I can see Defender II following the same line as previous Discovery models. The air suspension is truly a great option but not geared towards long distances without failure. There will be a coil spring conversion to replace the air suspension soon, among other good mods, to keep it going longer.
In summary, we like the new Defender, It comes with more character off the lot than any Toyota, and it is a capable vehicle off-road when properly working. Things will go wrong, and most Land Rover owners are perfectly fine with this. The new Defender is a higher maintenance platform; the cult following will continue, and we get it.