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The Most Valuable 1993 Vehicle Is... This Old Truck?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2016

I recently came to a rather startling conclusion: The most valuable production car sold in the United States during the 1993 model year might just be a crappy old Land Rover that's prone to rusting if you eat something salty while you're riding in it.

It's true: The 1993 Land Rover Defender 110 might just be the most valuable 1993 vehicle. More than vehicles from Ferrari, Maserati, Bentley, Rolls-Royce... more than any other 1993 vehicle sold in the U.S. Really.

Here's the situation. The Land Rover Defender was only exported to the United States in four model years: 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1997. In '94, '95 and '97, Land Rover sent over the short-wheelbase, 2-door Defender 90, which is fairly valuable in its own right: Nice ones can easily sell for $70,000 or more with the right history and condition. But the 1993 model is the most coveted: It's the only time Land Rover ever gave us the long-wheelbase, 4-door Defender 110. And they only sold 500 in the United States for the entire model year -- plus an extra 25 in Canada.

With the recent rise in value for collectible SUVs, Defender prices have shot up -- and none have increased in value more rapidly than the '93 Defender 110, which is now practically unobtainable for less than $100,000 due to its rarity and its unique status as the only 4-door Defender model ever sold in America. A perfect one could fetch $150,000. Yes, you can import your own Defender that's a few years older -- but to old SUV connoisseurs, it just isn't the same. And that's why, of the five '93 Defenders listed on Autotrader, the cheapest is offered for $90,000 -- and the most expensive for $200,000.

So is it the most valuable 1993 model? By 1993, the Ferrari F40 was out of production -- and the Defender is more valuable than the lower-level Ferrari 348. It's also more valuable than Rolls-Royces, Bentleys and Maseratis of its time period, which have all quickly dropped in value. It's more valuable than other 1993 cars that are often said to be future collectibles, like the Mazda RX-7 and Toyota Supra.

Perhaps its only 1993 competitors are the Ferrari 512TR and Lamborghini Diablo, both of which tend to sell in the same $100,000-$150,000 wheelhouse as the Defender. Think about that: A couple of iconic Italian supercars barely beat out a loud, slow, ungainly box of a British truck.

Maybe the most surprising part? The original MSRP of the Defender was just $39,900. Consider it the only time in history a British car can be viewed as an excellent investment.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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The Most Valuable 1993 Vehicle Is... This Old Truck? - Autotrader