A customer in Nantucket came to us with a request for a fun Island vehicle: We selected a very nice 1990 Defender 110 3-door with a soft top already installed and a sturdy roll cage for safety, and for greater ease of use in the North America we performed a full left-hand drive conversion.
Our conversion used correct components throughout, including a factory left-hand drive dashboard from a later TD5 Rover, and a stock pedal assembly. From behind the wheel, or even under the hood, the driver would struggle to find evidence that the truck was previously right-hand drive.
The original 200TDi engine is stout and reliable, and was factory rated at 107 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque in Defender specification. This powerplant was Land Rover’s first modern diesel, and offered significant increases in power and efficiency over earlier Rover diesels. Owners have reported mileage in the mid twenties with this powerplant rather than in the single-digits as is often the norm with V8-powered Rovers.
The previous owner requested an automatic transmission for greater ease of use. The factory LT77 5-Speed manual transmission was removed in favor of a ZF 4HP22 automatic, originally found in a UK 200TDi Discovery in the UK. This driveline combination affords terrific low-speed flexibility, allowing for comfortable around-town driving and sufficiently low ratios for off-road use. The 0.73 fourth gear is slightly longer than the factory fifth, allowing for comfortable on-road driving.
The cabin is outfitted with a later-style TD5 dashboard, and an NAS-style center console with automatic shifter surround. Full size bucket seats are provided for front and center rows, with smaller inward-facing jump seats mounted at the rear of the cargo area. Seating is provided for up to eight people, including the driver.
The canvas soft-top is usable in several configurations, including fully deployed, Safari-style with the soft side and rear panels rolled up, and fully removed. Quality metal hardware is present at all joints, and the top remains taut while driving.