The History of the DEFENDER


It all started way back in 1976 when Land Rover built a prototype coil sprung 100” successor to the Leaf Series vehicle based on the Rover Chassis. The 100” project was terminated in 1986 after about 70 prototypes. From about 1977 Land Rover experimented with different wheel bases and spring configurations. They were based on the Rover chassis and some of them were intended for the Swiss or French Military market, both of which were known to be looking for a new utility vehicle. In the end both bought other products. Some of the 70 experimental vehicles ended up in the 110 development program.


1977   Prototype 90” coil sprung vehicle on a cut down Rover chassis.

1978   Swiss army interest in a 100” .

1978   Prototype 110”  ambulance on an extended Rover chassis.

1979   Stage One released. So called because it was the result of work being done at the time. The Stage One was a Series 111 leaf sprung 109” Land Rover with the 3.5l V8 and 4 spd full time 4wd transmission out of the early Range Rover and 101.

1981   Stage One LWB 5 door station wagon released.

1981   90” project revived.

1983   March. The coil sprung Land Rover 110 was introduced at the Geneva International Motor Show. V8 3.5l , 4spd full-time 4wd.(LT95 gearbox) with front disk brakes. The 110 saw all new coil spring suspension with full time 4WD from the Range Rover design incorporated into the 109 type body styles. Styling changes include a one piece windscreen with new roof design and wheel arches added to the wings to accommodate a wider track.

Mid 1984 saw the release of the Land Rover 90”

1984   2.5 Petrol as an option.

1985   Stage One discontinued.

1985   Santana 5spd gearbox used in the V8 110.

1989   Hard Tops lost the three external ribs that had been there since the “Series” vehicles, making for a cleaner roofline.

1990   The 90-110 gets the name Defender, to cash in on the military connections.

1990   The 200 TDI motor is fitted to the Defender. The 200TDI had been used since 1989 exclusively in the Discovery.

1992   Defender High Capacity Pick Up announced.

1994   R380 5spd full time 4wd transmission used.

1994   Defender 130 TDI Crew Cab released in Australia.

1995   200TDI Motor replaced with the 300TDI.

1998/99  The Defender gets the new 5 cyl TD5 Motor.

Last Modified : 09/02/2006 06:46