Why is There a Huge Price Discrepancy Between Defenders?

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Today, we’re in the studio with Brando, the D110, and we’re going to talk about price discrepancy. I’m asked this question so often. “Paul, why is there such a huge price difference? Why am I looking at a D90, and they’re anywhere from $40,000 to $300,000? Or why is a D110 anywhere from, let’s say, $55,000 to $300,000?” Well, that’s what I’m going to answer today.

Price discrepancy, well there’s a lot that goes into it, and I know it’s confusing, and you want to save money. You want to be able to buy that Defender and drive in style, and you want to get it as affordable as you can, but I will tell you, buyer beware. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I kept on shopping for the Defender, and I bought it. I got it home, and it wasn’t a Defender. Let me say that again. It was not a Defender. There’s actually counterfeit Defenders, and what I mean by that is, you can end up buying what looks like a Defender, but it’s really not.

So years ago, I’m going to roll back. I’m going to give you a little history lesson. Years ago when Land Rover was in financial trouble, they sold the blueprint, the plans, the dyes to the Defender to a couple different companies. One of those companies is called Santana, and Santana started building what looks like a Defender, but it’s not a Defender. What I’m saying is, the body looks like a Defender, but the drive train, the engine, the frame, the suspension is not a Defender, and in fact, the parts, the body parts have a little different build to them, so if you were to buy a counterfeit Defender like the Santana and you were to try to replace a fender, or a headlight bezel, or any number of things, and you bought that part from a company like Rovers North, or British America, or any of those, that part would not fit on. What I’m saying, let me rephrase that. I’m getting carried away. So that part for a Defender would not fit on the Santana, and again, the Santana looks just like a Defender, but it’s not. It’s not as reliable, and it definitely does not have the resell value, so when you see that Defender, whether it’s a 110 and it’s $50,000, there’s a chance it could be a Santana version, and it’s a chance that it could be one of the versions that comes from Turkey, so understanding the VIN numbers of the Defender is very important because you could get stuck buying a counterfeit Defender.

So that’s the first reason for such a large price difference. The next one is two, how was the build done? Maybe an individual bought that vehicle in Spain, which is a red flag right there because it came from Spain, and they just did a paint job on it. They made it look pretty. Well, we’re going to call that putting lipstick on a pig, so spread it with a poor quality paint, did not pull any of the doors, did not pull any of the seals, didn’t pull any of the glass. They just taped everything up, and walked around with a spray gun, and sprayed it down so it had shiny paint, and then, that’s what you’re buying. So what you could be buying is you could be buying a rusty bulkhead. The bulkhead in the States is known as a firewall, and whenever that firewall is rusted, bulkhead, it has to be replaced. I mean, it can be replaced, there’s no doubt. I’m not going to say it’s an easy process because it’s not. It can be costly, but that’s the beauty of a Defender.

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All the parts can be replaced, but, so you buy a Defender, and it’s rusted out, with a rusted bulkhead, but the paint looks good, so the entire thing about a Defender is it’s an aluminum body, but there’s many parts in it that are made out of steel, and when you mix aluminum and steel together, it creates a chemical reaction of corrosion, therefore, a lot of times, on the doors of a Defender, you’ll feel the bottom, that it’s rusted out, or you’ll see paint bubbling, and that’s where the corrosion is happening from the inside out. It’s not because of salt on the roads. It’s because of the chemical reaction of the two metals touching.

Same thing, if you use steel bolts on a Defender, that steel bolt through the aluminum will create rust. So if you look here on the side quarter panel, keep in mind it’s aluminum, and right behind the door, you’ll see the rivets. You see on the Defenders, we don’t paint the rivets, and the reason being is because originally, when Land Rover Defenders were being built, they were in parts, so they were disassembled, they were painted, and then they were assembled together, so that’s why you don’t see any paint on these rivets. That’s the way a Defender should be built, and that’s the way we do it.

On this rear tub, do you see these little, look like dimples? These dimples should be here in most cases, so what these dimples are is spot welds, so they use a special welder in the factory, and it welds the two metals together, so if you do not see these little dimples, then, again, you know that this vehicle was repainted, and what they’re doing is, they’re trying to hide something here.

Number three point, the motor. You could look at a motor, whether it’s a 19J, which is a motor style, or a 200 TDI, or a 300 TDI, and from the, let’s just say from the average person’s eyes, they all look alike, but they are not alike. A 19J was one of the first motors that Land Rover developed that started to bring them out of their financial ruins, but it’s not a reliable motor. It’s only good for about 100,000 miles. Parts are expensive. It’s not the easiest to work on. When they developed the 200 TDI, it’s a fabulous motor, and then, a 300 TDI is even a better motor. Easy to get parts regardless. I mean, you can go to Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone and get parts for it. Everything on it is easy, and they will go for a half a million miles without much issue at all, so highly reliable motors.

It could also have a gas motor. A lot of times, in the States, we think, “Oh, I need that gas engine.” “That’s what I want, is that gas engine.” I will warn you, you do not want the gas engine. The diesel is better on miles per gallon. It will last longer. The parts are less expensive, and it’s just the diesel motor, the way it’s designed, it doesn’t have that explosion inside. In other words, the way the combustion happens, like a gas motor, diesel motor runs cooler and has a longer longevity, so now, you start to see why the price discrepancy.

It can be rust, it can be a counterfeit, it can be the wrong motor. There’s a number of things of what will vary the price, so when you’re buying a Defender, you definitely want to do your research. You want to understand what makes a difference, so like Brando here that’s 90-something thousand dollars, that’s because it’s not a counterfeit Defender. It does have a 300 TDI. It has absolutely no rust on it, and all of those things matter because a lot of times, we start going, “Oh man, I’m going to buy that Defender.” “I’m only going to pay 40,000.” “I’m going to do some work to it.” “It’ll be fine,” but what kind of work are you getting into? Do you need to put a new frame under it? Well, everything’s got to come off. You’ve got to get a new frame, and while new frames are relatively inexpensive, about $2,500 for a frame, it’s the man hours, it’s the labor to be able to switch everything over.

If it’s a bulkhead, the entire thing has to come apart, and it has to go back together. Again, a lot of hours. Probably a project the vast majority of us will never get around to, and if you want to take it to a local body shop here in the States, good luck because these guys see you coming a mile away, and I know that first Defender I bought, that’s what I did. Oh, I’m just going to get it. I’m going to save money. I’m going to do this work myself. I’ll get a few people to be able to do the work, and when I took it in to get the restoration, and they said, “Yeah, we’ll be happy to do the restoration, Paul, $80,000.” Maybe it was the way I dressed. Maybe I should’ve dressed in some Carhartts, but needless to say, they wanted $80,000 to do a restoration on a vehicle that I paid $52,000 for. Add the two together, and I could’ve had a very nice Defender that I wouldn’t have had any issues of of paint bubbling, and corrosion from the inside out, or a frame that’s about ready to fall off, and it would’ve had all the right parts, and it would’ve had the longevity, so don’t try to cheap your way to a Defender, and do your research.

Now, it’s time for my shameless plug, and if you’re interested in a Land Rover Defender, whether it’s a D90 hard top, D90 soft top, a D110, a D110 double cab, whatever, or a D130, just reach out to me. Again, this is a hobby for me. This is not a full-time job. It’s just something I’m passionate about, and I love, and I can build a Defender for you to your exact specifications, so check it out at Helderburg.com.

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