HomeThe MarketFeatured listing: Africa or America - 1985 Land Rover Defender 90

Featured listing: Africa or America – 1985 Land Rover Defender 90

This is one all-right Land Rover Defender. Well, more specifically, right-hand drive!


This ClassicCars.com Marketplace featured listing is a 1985 Land Rover Defender 90 for sale in Oceanside, California. This hit our shores long before the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and other luxury SUVs came to town. The Defender showed Americans there was a whole other world out there, and most of it was off-road.

Our planet has no shortage of challenges throughout time. In the mid-eighties, Africa, and Ethiopia more specifically, was in the midst of a famine. This was of epic proportions. There was food, but financially it was apparent that more was needed to make this happen. At the crossroads of this crisis steps in Harry Belafonte, and then Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers joined in. Soon afterwards, so did Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. Michael Omartian joined in the production with Quincy, and before long an all-star group of 21 soloists and another 21 in the chorus created an iconic recording. The sales of We Are The World raised $63 million back in 1985, or about $150 million in today’s dollars. During this time, the 1985 Land Rover Defender was on African soil, but it too was having a tough time.

1985 Land Rover Defender 90
1985 Land Rover Defender 90

Prior to this time, Land Rover was a capable machine set handle the third world terrain. However, for years the quality and reliability coming from British Leyland was slipping, and as a result of this the company was losing its foothold to the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Nissan Patrol. Of course, no brand likes to lose a market, even if it was a gradual decline. 

To counter this reversal of fortune, Land Rover came out with an updated model in 1983, which as the 110, and the following year it released the 90, both of which we refer to today as the Defender model. The models were to offset the decline in the African and Australian markets with increases in Europe and America. The 1984 models saw several upgrades in features while the body and engine were still carry-overs from the Land Rover Series III. The upgrades included coil springs instead of leaf springs, which offered a more compliant ride and improved axle articulation. This was coupled to the permanent four-wheel-drive system derived from the Range Rover, featuring a two-speed transfer gearbox with a lockable center differential. The part-time four-wheel-drive from the prior year was dropped, due to lack of interest on the part of consumers.

1985 Land Rover Defender 90
1985 Land Rover Defender 90

Other improvements like the modernized interior, roll-up windows, and a taller one-piece windscreen made this much more civilized. In the 1985 Land Rover Defender 90 model, the 3.5-liter, V8 from the Range Rover (with lower compression) was offered for the first time. This now upped the horsepower from 83 in the four-cylinder to an almost impressive 114 in the eight-cylinder. 

For 1985, the dimensions of the 90 were; wheelbase – 92.9 in (2,360 mm), length – 160.5 in (4,077 mm), width – 70.5 in (1,791 mm), and height – 80.2 in (2,037 mm) (90).

1985 Land Rover Defender 90
1985 Land Rover Defender 90

This featured right-hand drive model showcases a tough and clean exterior. The blue paint is the right mix of business off-road and sportiness about town. The interior material is tan cloth seating and panels. This does come complete with the gas powered V8 and a manual transmission. As summer approaches, it’s nice that this has A/C. This 1985 Land Rover Defender 90 also recently had the CV joints resealed, transfer case resealed, carburetor cleaned, new upholstery on the rear jump seats.   

To view the listing on ClassicCars.com, click here.


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