Land Rovers from the 1990s

I am looking at purchasing a car for a teenager. How safe is Land Rover from the 1990s? Does it have airbags? For example, a 1996 Land Rover Defender. Also, what do you think of converting this car into electric?

Thank you!

That is about the worst money pit you could imagine

Extremely bad idea . . . horrendously unreliable

“converting this car into electric?”

Don’t take this the wrong way, please . . . if you want an electric car, just buy a Leaf or Volt

It will be much easier. Purpose built electric cars are a better bet than conversions, in my opinion

What db said, X 10.

It would be a very safe vehicle since it would be parked or in the shop 90% of the time.

I would add to db’s excellent post that buying a Leaf or Volt will also be much cheaper than trying to convert an old Landy to electricity.

Airbags don’t make the car safer, the driver avoiding accidents does. Why the big concern with safety?

People who love these Land Rovers tend to keep them as long as they can afford them. I have a customer who bought a 1994 Range Rover in about 2000. He always wanted one, and loved it. By the time he sold it in 2008, he figured that after buying it he spent an average of $300 per month on maintenance and repairs.

If a Land Rover is what you want, buy one.

So let’s do the math . . . $300/month = $3600/yr multiplied by 8 years = $28800

The very definition of a money pit

Not the greatest idea, even if you were given one. I assume you meant a discovery since a defender from that era (At least the US market ones) is a $50,000+ truck in good or better condition. The Defender was dropped from the US market because they would have to fit airbags to be able to sell them after the 1997 Model year which would have cost more than the small volume could ever justify. Even having a specialist repair shop nearby I would find something else for a teenager.

@db4690 I agree; the most I’ve ever spent on M&R in 8 years was about $6000.

If safety is your first concern, then a teenager should be in a fairly new mid-size (or larger) sedan, preferably not with too much power.

That Land Rover I mentioned has a funny story to go with it. He decided to take it on a road trip from Seattle to Arizona. Going through Southern Oregon/Northern CA through the mountains the seat belt warning light would occasionally turn on for a few minutes, then go off. Later he experienced the same thing going over the Grapevine. By the time he got to AZ the light was on almost all the time.

No one is going to stop driving a car because of a seat belt light, right? Especially one with known quirky electrical systems.

By the time he got close to Phoenix in the desert heat the engine blew. It seems that at some point in the past, the instrument cluster had been repaired or replaced, and somehow the wire or connector for the engine temperature light had been crossed with the seat belt light. So what he was seeing wasn’t the seat belt warning but the engine overheat warning.

That guy is now happily driving a Hyundai Santa Fe.

Land Rover Discovery . . . probably the worst of the worst

Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel, in terms of reliability

No offense intended to anybody that has one and has had excellent experiences with it

Land Rovers are notorious for being unreliable NEW, let’s not wonder about a 20 year old one.
What ever the seller is asking for the Rover, take that cash and throw it in a fire, it’ll be money better spent than buying a 20 year old Rover.

Land Rover Discovery . . . probably the worst of the worst

An old friend from my youth ended up marrying a guy who is a service manager at a Land Rover dealer. His exact words were “the only Discoverys that don’t leak are the ones that are empty.”

Acquaintance bought a new Range Rover. 2 months later, the dealer had bought it back. 1 story isn’t everything, but it sure is consistent with lots of other stories we’ve seen.

One of my neighbors bought a new Land Rover (I don’t recall the exact model) several years back. The joke in the neighborhood was, “What color is Jack’s Rover this week?”, because a few times every month his car would be in the shop for repairs while he drove yet another loaner vehicle.

And, of course, that was a new Rover.
Trust me…They don’t improve with age…

On the episode of Top Gear (UK) that I watched last night, there was a tribute to the Land Rover Discovery, as a result of the termination of its production after 67 years. When you consider that the underlying editorial policy of Top Gear (UK) is to rate British cars as superior to makes from other countries whenever possible, I think it is very…telling…that they commented several times about the extremely unreliable nature of these beasts.

asemaster I remember the commonly stated observation that was not an exaggeration. “If a British vehicle is not leaking, it’s out of something”!

In another episode of Top Gear, the trio set off across the desert in their own choice of off road truck. One did it in a Land Rover. Clarkson went on about how odd it was that the most unreliable vehicle in the world (his words) was the only truck that finished the trip.

The “desert of their own choice” was–in fact–The Atacama Desert in South America, and Clarkson did indeed refer to the Land Rover as “the world’s least reliable vehicle”.

Of course, in view of the totally scripted nature of the show, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a mechanic had worked on that Rover frequently during that desert journey. Trust me…there are LOTS of things that we never see on that show that might influence the outcome of their…contests.