Defender Purchase: Search, Find and Buy
Buying a car today is hardly exciting or particularly exciting. You go to a car dealership, take a test drive, clarify the financing and buy the car. Since Defender is not just any car, but a car with character, it's not standard to search and buy...
I'll tell you here about my search, the purchase, the registration, and much more. Give you tips on what you should pay attention to. But believe me, no two Defender purchases are the same and every purchase is always an experience...
Background: How it all began...
I got my first Defender by chance: A friend of my father's told him that a friend of his wants to sell his Defender. Since this has been my dream car for a long time, I was naturally interested and he sent pictures. Because he wanted to have relatively much money for the car, he was out of the question at first. "Unfortunately" we were in the area a week later and spontaneously called and asked if we could just have a look at it.
Defender 90 300tdi
Of course we could. The owner was an upholsterer who wanted to sell the Defender with a heavy heart, but for understandable personal reasons. He opened the door to his workshop and inside stood a Defender 90 300tdi in a condition as if fresh from the shop.
After a short test drive I knew I wanted it! It had a little over 100.000km on it, freshly upholstered leather seats with seat heating, a cruise control, roof rack, etc. After a short price negotiation and 2 days to think it over, he was mine :)
The first tour to Scotland
In spring 2017 I went on a tour to Scotland with it and was thrilled. Equipped with roof tent and awning, you could go camping with it very well. On the tour I decided that I want to do my permanent trip with a Defender. The 90s, as beautiful and great as it is, is unfortunately not suitable for such a tour, as there is simply too little storage space available...
...and so I decided to turn the 90 into a 110.
Defender 90 vs. 110?
For all of you who don't know Defender that well: The 90 and 110 on a Defender is the wheel base in inches. So for the 90, the tires are 90 inches apart and for the 110, 110 inches. There is also the long 130 with 130 inches.
And what are Tdi, Td5, Td4?
These are the different series. From 200tdi (year of construction 19090 - 1994), over 300tdi (year of construction 1994 - 1998), to TD5 (1998 - 2006) to TD4 (from 2007).
More information can be found on Landypedia.
Search & find the right Defender
Unfortunately it is not always as easy as with the first purchase. This time it was search, search, search. So: visit mobile.de, autoscout24.de, etc. regularly. Very important: You can be notified when a new suitable advertisement has been placed. This means you are always very quick and no longer miss the best offers.
Sorting out black sheep
Unfortunately, many advertisements are in alleged "top condition", but the underbody, the doors, the hinges are all eaten away by rust. Also you should be careful with the defenders from southern countries. They might be rust-free, but they are mostly used in agriculture and are accordingly battered and - even if not visible at first sight - quite run down. Some dealers offer "Fake-Defender", which look great on the pictures for an unbeatable price... funny only that these ads are usually advertised for several months.
View car and test drive
Once you've found a good and suitable Defender, you have to go and look at it, and you have to accept that there's another way to go. The right Defender is usually not just around the corner...
Ask the seller questions on site! Ask who the previous owner was, what it was used for, what was done to the car, how much maintenance was done, etc. Look in the engine compartment, check the oil, make sure you put it under the car and look for rust. The body is made of aluminum and supposedly rust-free, but that is not true. Also aluminum rusts! Mostly from the inside out. Doors, floor, etc. A Defender is not really tight, so look under the floor mats and check for moisture and water.
If you're all right up to here, take the Defender probe. If you've never driven a Defender before, yes, the car is slow, yes, you sit high up, yes, you sit close to the window, yes, it's a great feeling. But feelings are out of place when buying a car. Does the engine sound good, the situation in curves is stable and the brakes are still braking? Good! with the Defender test compellingly whether creep speed and differential lock function. One forgets that quite gladly.
Are you unsure?
If you're unsure about the condition of the car, drive to a nearby garage and have the car checked out quickly. This is also possible and especially in consultation with the seller. If he does not want that, you do not want the car. Alternatively, ask someone from your circle of acquaintances who is a motorist and take him with you. If you're unsure, don't buy the Defender either.
That's how it worked for me...
I live in Augsburg and found a beautiful black 110 TD5 Defender north of Frankfurt. On the phone we agreed that I have a long drive (about 4h easy) and that he should reserve it for me. Fortunately he kept to this - which unfortunately is not necessarily a matter of course. Arrived there, I was of course absolutely enthusiastic at the beginning. On closer inspection, I found a few rust spots, but the back seat and the floor mats were soaked. Whew!
Test drive made. Engine with a little over 100.000km. Immediately started, the gear went 1A, engine sounded great. There is nothing missing. That was really top. Car from 1st hand, family car and very well maintained. I have thought long and hard about it. Fortunately my father went up with me (to drive 2 cars alone is a bit difficult). Discussed and still in a workshop, for a quick check. To make it short: I bought it.
Buying and transferring Defender
After a short price negotiation (something always works!), we agreed. Since I was there on 30.12., and it was late afternoon by now, it was already getting dark. Until spare tires, accessories and so everything was loaded, it was very dark. Still filled up and off we went. After 30min the winter break-in came unfortunately. And with that I really mean the onset of winter.
Snowfall was dense, visibility less than 20 meters, it was wet and icy on the ground. On the motorway it went on with - no joke - 30km/h. My windshield wiper kept jumping out of the bracket. That means stop, get out, push the wiper back into the wiper arm. At some point I pressed it tight with a pair of pliers. Then it held.
The drive was enormously exhausting in the snail's pace in the dark and fast with minimal visibility. Additionally it became colder and colder and the Defender of course not really warm. At some point I swapped cars with my father, which is much more modern and warmer. We arrived home after a 10 hour drive at about 4am in the morning. There I had to pack my suitcases, because the next morning we went to Finland for a regeneration holiday.
I was really happy when I came back from Finland and could look at the car under "normal circumstances" and drive it. After it had been to my Defender garage and had just been inspected (the only problems were the rear brakes and a few gaskets that had to be replaced), I was really satisfied. Not a bad buy, I was lucky again :)
If you want a Defender, this is the best decision you can make about buying a car. But you should be aware that a Defender is not a race car (max 130km/h), it never gets really warm in winter, the electronics and technology are totally outdated, if they exist at all, the driving characteristics are rather shaky than precise, etc.
In return, you get a reliable car that decelerates (you have no choice), can be driven well even with a jacket (and in which you can install a parking heater with manageable effort), is so rudimentary thanks to the few electronics that it can be repaired anywhere with minimal effort, the driving characteristics contribute to deceleration.
For me, Defender is an incredibly great car, which has its quirks, but they only stand for its character and make it what it is: A reliable, reduced to the most important things, off-road vehicle with which you can go almost anywhere.