NAS DEFENDER 90: (1994, 1995 and 1997 North American Specification (NAS) Only)

DEFENDER 90: 1995 Soft Top and a 1995 Station Wagon (or hardtop) shown.

In 1994 Land-Rover was able to bring in a limited number of Defender 90s (commonly abbreviated D90). The majority of these were the soft top version, in either a full soft top or a "fastback" half soft top configuration. These Defenders 90s were quite different from their UK cousins. The NAS or North American Specification 90s had a 3.9 liter fuel injected V8 for 1994 and 1995 and a 4.0 distributorless EFI V8 for 1997, 4 wheel disc brakes, and a "safari cage". Although Rover kept the diesel engines and other options for the other world markets, they did at least offer more than one color for the Defender 90s, unlike the "any color you want as long as it is white" 1993 Defender 110s. For 1994 they came in a variety of colors. They also came stock with alloy wheels, a AM/FM tape stereo, sway bars and more. The Defender 90 won 4 WHEELER OF THE YEAR in 1994. The early Defender 90s sold out quite quickly, but a few fit and finish problems immediately surfaced. The US buyers were not happy with the "Tickford" soft tops fit and function. LRNA (Land Rover North America) tried to correct this by having the tops repaired and then finally had new tops made by Best Top with a different mounting system utilizing a snap belt rail rather than metal snaps. The early 1994s also came stock with B.F.Goodrich Mud Terrain tires. These quickly gave way to a less aggressive All Terrain tread as USA customers complained about the tire noise. A dealer installed Air Conditioning unit was also a common option for the US market.

1995 Defender 90 "fastback" soft top.

Believe it or not the early 1994 Defender 90s came standard with NO top (only a tonneau cover came with the vehicle), no rear safari cage, and the rear bench seat was an option as well. This "fastback" top (seen above on a 1995 D90) was an option and was about as cheaply as you could drive away a Defender 90 that actually had a roof. The fastback versions are quite rare today.

For those customers that lived in cold regions the breezy Tickford soft top was not good enough. LRNA offered an optional fiberglass hardtop for the Defender. It could be removed in the summer and did solve some of the concerns.

1994 Defender 90 Soft Tops with optional fiberglass hard top installed.

These fiberglass tops had a tendency to crack and break if handled rough upon install/removal, or rubbed against obstacles off road. Today finding a fiberglass top that is undamaged is a hard job. The fiberglass tops are no longer available from Land Rover.

Knowing that they were missing some of the market by not offering a hardtop, Rover began to offer a metal hardtop Defender 90 in late 1994. A very limited number of these "pre-production" Defender 90 Station Wagons (metal hardtops) came through late in the production run. These "Port of Entry" hard tops, as they are called, can be identified from the more common 1995 and 1997 Station Wagon cousins as they retained the rear tailgate/ liftgate configuration, much like the fiberglass hardtop set up.

1994 Defender 90 Port of Entry Wagon rear view

The interior trims and such as found on the 1995 production Wagons were missing on the Port of Entry Wagons, as was a section of the safari cage. The incomplete safari cage reached the top of the roof around the windscreen, but did not continue down to the frame inside the vehicle.

1994 Defender 90 Port of Entry Wagon interior

As you can see this Port of Entry Wagon had headliners, but no interior roll bar, no side interior trims and no inward facing rear jump seats. Some Port of Entry Wagons came with headliners front and rear and some came with only front headliners depending on when they were produced, and the rear bench seat was an option, but very few were made, only 65 were ever built.

The later model 1995 full production hard tops or (Station Wagons) had a rear door, a complete safari cage and all the interior trim. All the 1995 and 1997 Wagons had the standard rear door set up only and they also came with a sunroof.

1995 Defender 90 Station Wagon (hard top) (with added winch mount bumper/brush bar and mudflaps)

The 1995 Defender 90 Station Wagons had color restrictions. They came in 3 colors only. They did offer 4 jump seats in the rear for seating for 6 adults, but only for short trips. The 5 speed gearbox and EFI 3.9 were retained in the Wagons.
In 1995 and 1996 rumors flew that no more Defenders would be imported, but Land-Rover offered a limited production run of Defender 90 Station Wagons, as well as some more soft tops to keep most customers happy. The later model soft tops were also offered in a new color, a special clear coat called Beluga Black. The Beluga Black paint was an option and it cost extra, much like color Red did in the early Series Rovers.

For the 1997 model year the only major changes were the gearbox, colors, and engine. The 1997 elimination of the 5 speed manual gearbox left all Defenders with 4 speed ZF built automatic gearboxes. The full time 4 wheel drive system remained the same. LRNA also added Monza Red and British Racing Green to the color line up. Eight exterior colors must be some sort of record for Rover! The 3.9 V8 was upgraded to 4.0 liters... Well, kind of. The 3.9 displaced 3947 cc and the 4.0 displaced 3950 cc. 3 cc's isn't really an upgrade. The real change came in the engine's electronic systems. The new distributorless ignition and GEMS management system was an improvement over the older units. Horsepower outputs remained the same, 182 hp, claimed. (Actually they are more like 164 hp when tested)

1997 NAS Defender 90 Station Wagon (with added ARB winch mount bumper and driving lights)

1997 Defenders came in both soft top and Station Wagon versions. The Station Wagons could now also come in Portofino Red along with the 1995 colors. The soft tops lost Portofino Red in favor of Monza Red and gone was Coniston Green and Arles Blue.

There have been constant rumors since 1997 that the Defender will come back to the USA, but as of 2011 Land Rover North America has no plans to bring the Defender back to the USA.

Limited Editions, Specials and other Oddities:

1997 NAS Defender 90 LE Station Wagon (stock except for the driving lights)
The last gasp for the Defender in the USA was Land Rovers importation of 300 Special Edition 1997 Wagons with special paint (again, one color only: Willow Green) and bolt on "body protection" in the form of large 5 bar diamond plate sheets. The LE (Limited Edition) was basically a stock 1997 NAS Defender 90 Station Wagon with the following factory installed options: AC, Safety Devices full roof rack, diamond plate trims on rear ladder, fenders, quarters, sills and rear step. Twin tube running boards with diamond plate trim, front A bar and the limited edition plate on the rear that gave the number X/300. Unfortunately that was the last the U.S. will see of the Defender until it is totally redesigned to meet the new USA DOT/EPA standards in the future.

1994 Hella Edition NAS Defender 90s
In 1994 Hella worked with Land Rover North America to produce 4 special edition "Hella" 1994 NAS Defender 90s. These were used in Hella advertising of the time. There were only 4 units produced and each was a different color. The colors were: Laser Red, Arizona Blue, Java Green and Orange (Orange and Blue shown below). They all had lots of Hella 3000 lights installed and because there was only 1 made of each color they are now considered some of the rarest of the NAS Defenders.

The 4 Hella Defenders have badge #s:
Arizona Blue: # 1235
Lazer red: # 985
Orange: # 1515 (but no number stamped is reported also)
Java Green: # 1272

Beluga Black Special Edition
A number of the Beluga Black Defender 90 soft tops came through with black leather seating surfaces from the factory.

1994 POE (Port of Entry) Hard Tops not painted Coniston Green
Most of the POE Hard Top Defender 90s for 1994 were Coniston Green. 3 were not. There were 2 Arles Blue units and 1 Alpine White.

Rare colors for 1997 NAS Defender Station Wagons
The majority of the 1997 NAS D90 Station Wagon (excluding the LEs) followed the color chart found below, but there were some exceptions:
There were 2 Monza Red Wagons, Badge # 0029 and # 0036
There we others as well. These may have been custom ordered colors from the factory:
Epsom Green NAS D90 SW # 0155
Rioja Red NAS D90 SW # 0554
British Racing Green NAS D90 SW # 0577
One non-LE NAS D90 SW is listed as being Willow Green, #0545

Buyers Tip:
We would like to reduce the odometer fraud that goes on in the Defender market, so here are some tips to arm yourself. The speedometers in Defenders can go bad, some have been replaced for legitimate reasons and paperwork should be able to back up the actual mileage of any Defender, but we often see "low mile" Defenders where the only thing low miles is the speedometer itself.
1993 NAS 110s and 1994-1995 NAS D90s:
Here is an easy way to spot a replaced odometer in a 1993 NAS Defender 110 or in the 1994-1995 NAS Defender 90s.

The font on the odometer (miles driven) display is different on the newer replacement units. The image above shows a stock and correct 1993-1995 Defender 110/90 odometer.

Compare that to this speedo that just arrived in a "low miles" 1995 Defender 90. You can see the font on the odometer is quite different. This is a replacement speedometer.

1997 NAS Defender 90s:
In 1997 Defender 90s the odometers can go bad due to a contact problem inside the unit. This is very easy to fix, but some people just replace the unit completely when the display goes bad. To check for the correct miles in these cases you have to take the 4 screws that hold the dash in place off, unplug the wiring connector, remove the dash and look at the decal on the back of the speedo.

Here you can see the 1997 NAS D90 dash removed. It only takes 4 screws and 3 plugs to get to this point.

The original speedos are made by VDO, and so are the replacements. They have a manufacture date on the silver decal. You can see this original speedo was made in 06/97 indicating it is likely the original unit for a 1997 Defender 90.

Here you can see the speedo we removed from a customer's recent "low miles" 1997 NAS D90 purchase. You can see the speedo was made in 2007 (29/07), as shown on the white decal, meaning that it is not the original speedo, and the true miles are unknown.
So if you are looking at a "low miles" '97 Defender 90 that has a speedo that was made in 2007 then....
Its possible to do lots of other things to fake the odometer and you can't protect yourself against everything a criminal wants to do, but these tips should help a little.

Extra fuel tanks:
It has been said that a very early 1994 NAS Defender 90s came with a second fuel tank on the passenger side, under the passenger seat, much like the Euro Defender. However, after viewing these set ups and speaking with LRNA we are convinced that these were not factory installed as no factory style parts were used in any of the twin tank conversions we have seen. The factory would not have done this work in this way. So the twin tanks may be a nice feature, but they were not done by Land Rover North America.

The Japanese Specification Defender 90 Wagons:
The Japanese Specification 1997 Defender 90s look very similar to the NAS Defender 90. They are almost the same with some minor differences. They have the same 4.0 EFI V8 and are all automatics. Some have power windows where the NAS version did not have this option, and a few other minor differences. We don't have any data on how many of these there are, but this is how you tell a Japanese Spec. D90 Wagon from its NAS counterpart.

The Japanese Spec. 90s came with Kilometer speedos, were the NAS version has a MPH speedo.
Most of the Japanese Spec. 90s that have entered the USA have had MPH speedos installed. How this relates to the actual miles on teh truck is anyone's guess.

At a glance the 1997 Japanese Spec. 90 Wagons, shown above, looks just like an NAS Defender Station Wagon. Some easy to spot differences are:

Along with the VIN tag behind the windscreen as found on the NAS version, the Japanese version has a second VIN tag on the brake pedal box, just like a Euro Defender.

The front marker and parking lights are different as well. The top parking lamp is clear instead of amber, and the side marker is a European style turn signal repeater and is set further back than the larger USA side marker lamp.

The Japanese 90s can also be made to look more "NAS" as you can see in the image above. This is a Japanese Spec. 90, but the upper parking lamp has been changed from clear/white to amber and the side turn signal repeater has been replaced by a NAS side marker lamp to make it look more "NAS", but you'll notice that the side marker lamp is located too far back on the fender when compared to a stock 1997 NAS Defender 90.

Power windows, if fitted.

The numbers stamped into the ID tag on the back of the 90 is a different font than the NAS version.

A freind of the ECR web site has told us this Japanese lable, that normally says "Unlead Fuel Only" on an NAS 90, would have a direct translation of roughly: "High Octane".

The interior trim is a grey vinyl, but it is a different pattern than the stock NAS Defender 90 Wagon.
We have seen quite a few of these Japanese Spec. 90 Wagons and they all appear to be in very good shape. According to DOT regulations it would be 100% legal to import one of these 1997 Japanese Spec. Defender 90s through a Registered Importer, as long as the VIN on the vehicle you plan to import fall in the ones allowed by the DOT. The reason for this is that the Japanese Spec. 90 (and the Saudi Spec. 90) was built so close in specifications to the USA Spec 90 that they can be imported (not by you, but by a Registred Importer).

NAS DEFENDER 90 Specifications:

 Year/Model: Soft Top Wagon
1994 1943 USA, 87 Canada NA
1995 1190 510
1997 1499 1300

MSRP at time of first sale:
 Price/Model: Soft Top Wagon Limited Edition Wagon
1994 27,900. NA NA
1995 28,650. 32,000. NA
1997 32,000. 34,500. 40,000.

EQUIPMENT: (standard)
Cubby box with Clarion AM/FM cassette
2 Drink holders
Swing away tire carrier
Tonneau cover
Rubber floor mats

Air Conditioning
Numerous tops
Rear safari cage (option on 1994-5, standard 1997)
Numerous lights, running boards, racks, winch mounts, etc
CD player in 1997

Color/Model: 1994 Soft Top 1995 Soft Top 1995 Wagon 1997 Soft Top 1997 Wagon
AA Yellow Yes Yes NA Yes NA
Alpine White Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
 Coniston Green Yes Yes Yes NA Yes
 Portifino Red Yes Yes NA NA Yes 
 Beluga Black cc Special Edition Only Yes NA Yes NA
 Arles Blue Yes NA Yes NA Yes
 Monza Red NA NA NA Yes NA
 British Racing Green cc/m NA NA NA Yes NA
Willow Green cc/m NA NA NA NA  Yes (Limited Wagon only)

cc: Clear coat paint
m: Metallic paint

 Color/Model 1994-1995 Soft Top 1995 Wagon All 1997 Models
Charcoal Twill & vinyl Yes NA NA
Ash gray Hounds tooth/ &vinyl NA Yes NA
Slate gray vinyl NA NA Yes

RUNNING GEAR 1994-1995:
 ENGINE:  3.9 EFI V8 182bhp 232 ft.lbs torque
 GEARBOX: Stick shift 5 speed LT77S
The improved R380 was introduced in late 1994
TRANSFER BOX: Full time 4x4 (Hi-Lo) w/center diff lock LT230

 ENGINE: 4.0 EFI V8 w/ distributorless GEMS system 182 bhp 232 ft. lbs torque
GEARBOX: Automatic 4 speed ZF manufactured auto.
TRANSFER BOX: Full time 4x4 (Hi-Lo) w/center diff lock LT230

BRAKES: All models
 FRONT: Vented disc, 4 piston calipers
 REAR: Disc, 2 piston calipers

SUSPENSION: All models
Solid axle front and rear, coil sprung, Front and Rear sway bar standard

STEERING: All models
Power assisted

1994-1995 Models:
13 City/ 16 Highway
1997 Models:
14 City/ 15 Highway
15.6 gallon fuel tank (all models)

Trailer with brakes: 3500 lbs
Trailer with no brakes: 1650 lbs

Roughly 3900 pounds

 Ground Clearance 9"
Approach angle 51 degrees
Departure angle 35 degrees
Break over angle 34 degrees

 Wheelbase 92.9"
Track width 58.5"
Length 160.5"
Width 70.5"
Height 80.2"
Height (with optional roof rack on Station Wagon) 91.3"

In late 1994, 65 "port of Entry" hardtops came into the US with a rare tailgate/ lift gate set up in the rear. These units were also missing the interior trim and safari cage of the 1995 and 1997 Station Wagons.
The 1994 Defender 90 is Four Wheeler Magazines "Four Wheeler of the Year".
Only the 1994 Defender was sold in Canada. Small sales figures meant the model was dropped from the Canadian market.
The 1997 Defender 90 was the first automatic Defender ever produced for any country.
No 1996 Defender was offered.
1994 Defenders came with BF Goodrich Mud-Terrains. The 1995 and 1997 models came with BF Goodrich All Terrains due to customer complaints of tire noise.


1994 Defenders are identified by their square tail lights and their orange turn signals located in the front bumpers.

1994 Defender 90 Soft Top

1995 Defenders are easily set apart from the 1994 models by their round rear tail lights and the large round turn signals that are on the body, not in the bumper. Both 1994 and 1995 models were all 5 speeds.

1995 Defender 90 Soft Top

1997 Defender 90s are easy to spot if you get a look inside. They all have automatic gearboxes and they have a large plastic console that is between the seats that holds the radio and gearshift lever. The interior fabric is also different on the 1997 models. Outwardly they share the same features as the 1995 Defender.

1997 Defender 90 Station Wagon (hard top)

The next generation Defender is not scheduled to hit US shores anytime soon (no current return ETA). When it does come back it will be a radical change from the Defender we know and love. Due to tougher laws for passenger safety and pedestrian impact standards in Europe, the next Defender it will likely be a unibody vehicle with IFS and much more "tame", and a lot less "truck like". We'll see just what the engineers at Rover/Ford have in store for one of the great work horses of the world. We hope they don't kill it off.

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East Coast Rover Co.
21 Tolman Road
Warren, ME 04864