Several years ago I bought my first Land Rover Defender 90. I purchased it from an Englishman who imported her through South Carolina. He had it registered and titled for me in the states, taking away some of the biggest stresses and risks associated with importing classic vehicles. She was a beautiful 1988 Land Rover Defender 90 V8. Not perfect, but everything I had ever dreamed a Defender should be. After a series of attempts to find a shipping company to move her from the east coast to Minneapolis (where I live), I gave up, booked a pair of one way tickets, and we were off to drive here half way across the country to her new home.
We had no idea if she would make it, so our plan was this simple: let’s drive her until we can’t anymore and we will ship it home from there. If she makes it … great. Oh, and we have to do it in 4 days or less.
It took a while to “re-learn” how to drive a 5-speed, as I hadn’t really driven one since I was in college, reluctantly sober cabbing people home from the bar in a manual transmission I had no idea how to drive. After a few loops around the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in my vintage Defender, I not only got proficient enough to drive on real roads, but I also earned my right to wear a tweed coat and sip mid afternoon tea.
Every time I stopped we found myself in conversation about my newly adopted Landy. I honestly didn’t know much about the vehicle at the time, including how to operate the choke — giving me a mild panic attack on the second day of the trip when trying to start her after a full night resting in the parking lot at the Biltmore hotel. 1,300 miles and 4 days later, we arrived in Minneapolis. I had mastered the 5-speed even in heavy city traffic and fell in love with the Defender experience.
My goal is to document as much information I can about owning a vintage Land Rover Defender in the United States, sharing it with others so they can join this exciting world.