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Emerging from six months’ rest, Trevor’s 90 is in need of TLC : credit: © Trevor Cuthbert
After a six-month lay-up, Trevor’s 90 is getting ready to rejoin the labour force

My Defender 90 Td5 is looking very forlorn at present. I took it off the road around six months ago to save some money on road tax, as I knew I wouldn’t need to make use of the trusty old workhorse for a while.

So, how did water leak into the cabin…?

Not that the 90 was ever a pristine example; when I acquired in back in 2014, it was already a little battle-scarred. The Land Rover had lived the first part of its life on a large estate in Scotland and subsequently was used as an off-roader for a couple of years. There are numerous scrapes and dents in the bodywork, while the shade of green paint varies by body panel – probably due to previous paint shop repairs.

Trevor’s Defender 90 serves as a mobile billboard for his business


Cabin impressively clean for a workhorse

On the plus side, the Defender – with a very sweet Td5 engine – has been highly reliable and capable and has never let me down in nine years of ownership, when it has carried out many towing duties, off-road work (and play), general hauling tasks and teaching children to drive. The youngest human that I am responsible for has been the most recent (of three) to display L-plates on the front and back of the Defender.

It is now time to get the 90 back on the road – partly because there is no better 4x4 for wintery conditions and I have missed its amazing capability to reverse large trailers in tight spots.

Modest mileage for a well looked after Defender

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​​​​​​There are still a few months of MoT on the Defender, but before I head down to the Post Office to get the road tax, some recommissioning work is needed. Firstly, a new heavy-duty battery will be fitted – the old one was just about starting the engine in the warmer weather of six months ago, but I don’t give it any hope now. Of course, the oil and filters will be changed, as well as the oil in the differentials – although I am going to hold fire on the transmission oils for a little, for reasons that I will come to…

Time-worn tail lamps replaced with secondhand LED units

​​​​​​I noticed that my tail lights, side lights and indicators are looking unhealthy – particularly the tail lights. The lens colour has faded with age and the surface is very dull; it looks positively abraded. To the rescue will be a full set of LED lights that were taken off a client’s vehicle. Much to the horror of my friends, Bruce and Matthew, who both like to fit nothing but brand new parts to their Defenders, I am in the habit of fitting good used parts to my Land Rovers. The LED lights in question were removed to make way for a set of clear lens LEDs. Often, in these circumstances, the owner simply asks me to dispose of the removed items – or do what I please with them. My Defender 90 has been running on a pair of perfectly serviceable – but shabby – take-off rear shocks for the last four years.

I suppose I will need to give the Defender a good wash now too, if only to keep Bruce and Matt quiet – they are both very particular about their vehicles, always washing and polishing them and complaining about the state of mine.

Hinges could benefit from a bit of cosmetic attention, or at least a splash of oil

After the winter, I am planning a major makeover for the Defender 90. But probably not cosmetic; the scrapes, dents and paint will stay the way they are for now. I am more interested in upgrades under the skin. I would like to fit a new galvanised chassis to the 90 at some stage, but the first change I’m considering is converting the Land Rover to automatic transmission. I have always been a fan of the ‘slushbox’ (I have one in my 130 Tipper) and it feels like a good time to consider this upgrade because the clutch and the five-speed R380 in the Defender are feeling a bit tired.

For now, though, I am going to enjoy having the 90 back on the road and live in hope that we get some snow this winter.


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