Something for the weekend: Land Rover Defender 90

In the early 90’s, Land Rover finally acknowledged there was a bigger market then armies and farmers for their utilitarian Defender and started developing a ‘leisure model’ 90. This came to fruition when the UK market only Defender 90SV (for Special Vehicles) was introduced, together with the US/Canada market only D90 NAS (North American Specification). These models were marketed as weekend toys instead of workhorses.

Land Rover Defender 90SV
The Land Rover Defender 90SV arrived on the scene in 1993 and was only available in Caprice Blue Metallic, a colour unique to the model. It was still powered by the agricultural 200tdi but featured disc brakes at the rear, a first for the Defender. Another first were fancy wheels, made of aluminium in stead of steel usually associeted with Defenders. These were identical to the ones first seen on the limited edition Range Rover CSK and the then new and very upmarket Range Rover LSE. Only 90 Land Rover Defender 90SV’s were built and quite a few survive in the hands of caring owners.

Land Rover Defender 90 ‘D90’ NAS
The Land Rover Defender 90 NAS (North American Specification) was developed together with the Defender 90SV, but was more suited to local customs. It featured a 3.9 V8 engine and no roof, initially. Around 4.700 softtop models were sold in 1994, 1995 and 1997, and they currently sell for double of what they costed new.

Land Rover 90 Eastnor Edition
In 1996, the Dutch Land Rover distributor sent out a press photograph (see above) of an AA Yellow Defender 90. The lhd car was obviously inspired by the 90SV and D90, and shared details like black wheelarch brows, A-frame nudge bar, Tornado alloy wheels, twin tubed side runners and a side hinged rear tailgate with swing away spare wheel carrier. Contrary to the 90SV and D90, it had three seats up front and a different rollbar setup. Power came from a 2.5 tdi engine.

The yellow Defender never made it to the Netherlands, but the French distributor saw a market for a diesel powered leisure model and supposedly 100 were sold as ‘Land Rover Defender 90 Eastnor Edition’ through 1996 and 1997. Complementing its AA yellow colour (a first for the European market) was a rather unsubtle ‘Eastnor Defender 90’ door sticker. The production version was equipped with a removable (NAS) fibreglass hardtop and a NAS rearstep. In 2015, the ‘Eastnor Edition’ name was dusted off for a not very special limited edition Defender for some markets.

While the Land Rover Defender 90SV now has its own Facebookgroup and the American Defender D90 is on many a collector’s wishlist, the equally desirable 90 Eastnor seems forgotten. They do occasionally pop up on French and Belgian car ad websites for very reasonable prices, considering what they are. A piece of Land Rover Defender history, and a great weekend toy!

Ronald Janus
De Autoboerderij

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