Mileage on a Land Rover Defender, or another classic car, can be a bit of an arbitrary figure, particularly when it comes to diesel-powered models. In general, the miles on such cars don’t have much of a bearing on their overall performance or value; in some cases, they may even be meaningless.

As Americans, we’re taught by our parents, grandparents, and strangers on the side of the road that a car has a limited lifespan – typically 100,000 miles. This might have been true of cars from the 50s and 60s – particularly the gas-guzzling V8s of our hot rod dreams. Advances in technology, lubricants, service intervals, and the overall car collector culture have changed this thinking over the years, yet the myth persists.

In the United States, any vehicle over 25 years old is typically considered a classic or collector-class vehicle.  For some of us who continue to age gracefully, it’s sometimes shocking when our childhood dream vehicle is now considered a classic, but that’s a story for a whole other therapy session. Every Land Rover Defender in the United States will be considered a classic car by this point in time.  The last model year sold in the US directly was 1997, making 2022 the year it became a classic.  For those being imported from other markets, the DOT has a requirement that they have to be 25 years old to be considered exempt from crash safety standards.  That’s why more options are available these days on the Defender market.

The Land Rover Defender Diesel Engine

Most imported Land Rover Defenders will come with a diesel engine, as the 3.5L, 3.9L, and 4.0L petrol varieties were not terribly popular in the rest of the world due to the high fuel costs.  Americans are blessed with extremely cheap gasoline if you can believe that.

By the time a vehicle reaches the classic car stage, they are being driven very infrequently. This means that they don’t accumulate enough miles to really affect the overall performance or reliability of the vehicle. If a classic car is only driven a few times per year, then it won’t matter how many miles are on the odometer; the engine will still remain in good working order. This applies especially to diesel-powered vehicles, which have a longer service life than gasoline-powered models due to their robust mechanical design.

The Collectable Value of a Land Rover Defender

Additionally, many classic cars and vintage Land Rovers s are kept as collector’s items rather than daily drivers. In these cases, mileage isn’t nearly as important as other factors like overall condition and rare features. For example, a highly collectible model may still be worth a lot, even if it has over 100,000 miles on the odometer. In fact, some collectors may even prefer higher-mileage cars because they have more character and a sense of history about them.

Finally, unlike modern cars, there is rarely any record of how well previous owners maintained their classic vehicles. As such, there is no guarantee that a car with low mileage is in better condition than one with high mileage since maintenance isn’t tracked with such accuracy on older models. It’s also important to note that many diesel-powered classic cars were designed to last hundreds of thousands of miles without any major issues; thus, it’s not uncommon for them to remain reliable even after they pass the 100k mark on the odometer.

The Importance of Maintenace and Proper Service

Overall, mileage shouldn’t be too much of a concern when it comes to purchasing a classic Land Rover Defender – especially a diesel-powered model – as long as it has been well-maintained throughout its life or properly serviced by a reputable Land Rover service facility.

We’ve found that vehicles with higher miles tend to be in much better shape mechanically than those rarely driven.  This is typical because the previous owners cared for them and maintained them over the years.  A low-mileage Defender likely sat for extended periods, leading to dried seals and other internal issues that can’t be easily spotted with the naked eye.