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Land Rover Defender History: How Did It All Begin?

2021 land rover defender

You know that the new Land Rover Defender is a force to be reckoned with, but you may not realize that the Land Rover Defender has history on its side! Although certain design cues and capabilities harken back to the brand’s origins, the model that would become the Land Rover Defender was built in 1983, given its new name in 1990, and released for the U.S. market in 1993. Learn all about its origin story by reading on.

When Did the Land Rover Come Out?

Land Rover Defender history officially begins in the 80s and 90s, but true fans of the brand will know that the first Land Rover Defender was based on the military-inspired Land Rover Series I, Series II, and Series III SUVs. Here’s a brief overview of key moments in the Land Rover Defender SUV’s history:

  • From 1948 to 1958, the Land Rover Series I ruled the roost. It was replaced by the Series II in 1958, and the latter would itself be replaced by the Series III in 1971.
  • From 1971 to 1985, the Land Rover Series III set the standard for luxury off-road SUVs.
  • In 1983, two years before the Series III was retired, the Land Rover 110 went up for sale. The two-door Land Rover 90 would follow just one year later, in 1984.
  • From 1983 to 1990, the 110 and the 90 are sold in the U.K. and elsewhere–but not in the states!
  • In 1990, the 110 and the 90 would both be given the Defender nameplate–its first use ever.
  • In 1993, the Defender 110 and the Defender 90 would go on sale for drivers near Rumson and Colts Neck, as well as elsewhere across the U.S.
  • In 1997, the Defender would leave the American market once more. However, it would continue its run in other locales all the way up until 2016.

Highlights and Features of the First Land Rover Defender

When the Land Rover Defender came out, it may have been somewhat difficult to tell it apart from the Land Rover Series III, which remained in production until 1985. In fact, the Series III and the Land Rover Defender would share similar aluminum paneling and near-identical engines. However, the Defender was distinguished by its new grille and its longer bonnet.

The Land Rover 110 (the first Defender) also featured:

  • Permanent four-wheel drive, as featured in the old Range Rover
  • A two-speed transfer gearbox
  • A lockable center differential
  • Coil spring suspension
  • More luxurious interior features and appointments

Why resurrect the Defender, rather than the Series III? Part of the decision could have hinged on the Defender SUV’s history of success in sales. Throughout the 80s, the Land Rover 110 would gain stronger, more powerful engines–and consumers certainly took increasing notice as the years rolled by.

Although the Defender was only available in the U.S. for four years, it had no trouble making a lasting impression on Red Bank and Colts Neck drivers.

What Should You Know About the New Land Rover Defender?

There’s never been another model like the first Land Rover Defender, but the new Land Rover Defender builds upon the legacy of the original in many exciting ways. If you’re ready to see how it measures up, start by finding out what the experts at Motor Trend have said! Spoiler alert: It’s already been named as their 2021 SUV of the Year. Ready to learn more? Check out the Defender pricing and lineup with our team.

Your New Land Rover Defender is Here at Land Rover Monmouth

If you’re ready to test drive a Land Rover Defender of your own, make sure to explore our Land Rover Defender lease offers today! If you’d prefer to buy a used Land Rover Defender, we can help with that too. Make an appointment to visit us in store, or enjoy an even more convenient experience by stepping into our virtual showroom now.

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