Land Rover Defender

The model was introduced in 1983 as the Land Rover Ninety and the Land Rover One Ten, the numbers representing the wheelbase in inches. The number was spelt out in full in advertising and in handbooks and manuals, and the vehicles also carried badges above the radiator grille which read “Land Rover 90” or “Land Rover 110”, with the number rendered numerically. The Ninety and One Ten replaced the earlier Land Rover Series.

Land Rover 90 simply reflected 93 inch (2.362 m) wheelbase, Land Rover 110 reflected 110 inch (2.794 m) length of the wheelbase and Land Rover 127, with 127 inch (3.226 m) wheelbase. A slight change appeared in Land Rover Series III and Defender, A full-length bonnet, revised grille, plus the fitting of wheel arch extensions to cover wider-track axles are the most noticeable changes. While the engine and other body panels carried over from the Series III, mechanically the Ninety and One Ten showed significant modernization, including Coil springs, offering a more comfortable ride and improved axle articulation. A permanent four-wheel drive system borrowed from the Range Rover, featuring a two-speed transfer gearbox with a lockable centre differential, a modernized interior and a taller one-piece windscreen.

The One Ten was launched in 1983, and the Ninety followed in 1984. From 1984, wind-up windows were fitted (Series models and very early One Tens had sliding panels), and a 2.5 litre, 68 hp (51 kW) diesel engine was introduced. This was based on the earlier 2.3 litre engine, but had a more modern fuel-injection system as well as increased capacity. A low compression version of the 3.5 litre V8 Range Rover engine was available in conjunction with a 5 speed transmission which transformed performance.

From 1983 Land Rover introduced a third wheelbase to its utility line-up, a 127-inch (3,226 mm) twin-axle vehicle designed to accommodate larger, heavier loads than the One Ten. Naturally called the Land Rover 127, it was designed specifically with use by utility and electrical companies in mind, as well as military usage. In its standard form it is a four-door six-seater consisting of the front half of a One Ten Station Wagon, and the rear of a One Ten High-Capacity Pick-up (HCPU). The logic was that this allowed a workcrew and their equipment to be carried in one vehicle at the same time. The 127 could carry up to 1.4 tons payload, compared to the 1.03 tons payload of the One Ten and the 0.6 tons of the Ninety.

127s were built on a special production line, and all started life as One Ten Station Wagon chassis (the model was initially marketed as the One Ten Crew Cab, before the more logical 127 name was adopted). These were then cut in two and the 17 inches (432 mm) of extra chassis length welded on before the two original halves were reunited. 127s did not receive their own dedicated badging like the other two models; instead they used the same metal grille badges as used on the Series III 109 V8 models, which simply said Land-Rover.

Although the standard body-style was popular, the 127 was a popular basis for conversion to specialist uses, such as mobile workshops, ambulances, fire engines or even flatbed transports. In South Africa, the Land Rover assembly plant there offered a 127 Station Wagon with seating for 15. Land Rover also offered the 127 as a bare chassis, with just front bodywork and bulkhead, for easy conversion.

Initially held back by the low power of the Land Rover engines, the 127 benefited from the improvements to the line-up, and by 1990 was only available with the two highest power engines, the 134 hp (100 kW) 3.5 litre V8 petrol, and the 85 hp (63 kW) 2.5 litre Diesel Turbo.

Land Rover Defender 90                               Land Rover Defender 110                      Land Rover Defender 127

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