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I Saw The Next Land Rover Defender Built After Mine

For the last 18 months, I’ve been driving around in a North American Specification 1997 Land Rover Defender 90, which is a rather unusual vehicle, in the sense that Land Rover only sold about 7,000 North American Defenders here in North America over a four-year period. My truck’s year, 1997, was the only time the Defender was offered with an automatic transmission, and Land Rover only made about 2,800 that year.

Although my truck is quite unusual, to the point where I almost never see any other examples on the road, I occasionally bring it to Nantucket Island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, which is Defender heaven. You see dozens upon dozens of Defenders every day on Nantucket, and I like the fact that my truck feels right at home, happily amongst its peers.

And, in fact, not only its peers, but also its factory-mate.

The photo you see above is my Land Rover Defender 90, serial number 1460 according to the plaque on the back, parked next to 1997 Land Rover Defender 90 serial number 1461. These trucks were built on the same day, in the same factory, 22 long years ago — then shipped across an entire ocean and sent to go live their separate lives.

According to the Carfax report of number 1461, it was sold new in California before moving to Colorado, and finally to Ohio, where the current owner has had it for nearly 20 years — though the Carfax report seems to imply that although it’s registered in Ohio, it spends all its time on Nantucket. Meanwhile, my Defender was sold new in the northern suburbs of New York City, where the first owner had it for a decade before selling it to the second owner in Greenwich, Connecticut, who also had it for a decade before it came to me.

I posted an image of this joyous reunion on Twitter, and several people asked me how I figured it out. Actually, it wasn’t all that hard: There’s a list of every single VIN and color of every single North American Specification Defender, and I checked out the two Defenders next to mine in the sequence — numbers 1459 and 1461. From there, I knew 1461 was on Nantucket, I knew it was white, and I knew it had Ohio plates. I’ve actually seen it several times, but was only just able to get a photo.

Unfortunately, I was unable to speak to the owner of this Defender. Nantucket is very much a seasonal place, with the island population dramatically increasing in the summer, and it appeared the Ohio-based owners of this truck simply weren’t on the island the same week I was this summer. I’ll go back by their house in the future, but my knock on their door probably won’t have the same effect if I don’t actually show up with my Defender.

And, indeed, I won’t. In fact, it’s likely this is the very last time these two Defenders will ever be together. Just three days after taking this photo, I left Nantucket and my Defender began the long process of coming west to California with me — transported cross-country on the back of a truck.

Finally, here’s a fun little footnote to this story: In case you’re wondering about 1459, the Defender that came out of the factory right before mine, I have a weird coincidence there, too. Three years ago, long before I ever had my Defender or even knew about it, I wrote an article about 1997 Defender serial number 1459 for Jalopnik, as it was an undriven example that had been unearthed after the owner passed away. The article is here, and that Defender has since found its way to Southern California, though I suspect the current owner isn’t driving it much — but still, a photo opportunity might someday be possible.

Even if it isn’t, though, I’ll always have this photo: two Defenders, built on the same day more than two decades ago, on a different continent, thousands of miles away — reunited in a driveway.

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  1. That’s neat! Except the plaque number is not the serial number and it doesn’t necessarily mean one was made right after the other. Some are even numbered out of order. The serial number for 1460 is VA115228 and the serial number for 1461 is VA115236, so presumably, there were 7 Defenders produced between them. But it’s true that 1461 was the next Defender built that was destined for North America. 

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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