Work in progress: 1992 Defender 90 200Tdi


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Neil gets some quality time in the workshop : credit: © Neil Meakin
Neil Meakin, an HGV driver from Derbyshire, talks us through his project...

How long have you owned it? I’ve owned it twice. The first was back in 2005 when I had it for about two years before selling it, then I bought it back in March 2023.

What made you want to buy this particular Land Rover? I’ve always had a thing for old Land Rovers and appreciated them for what they are. I was in my mid-20s at the time (in 2005) and wanted something different from the rest.

I was looking around and found this lovely Defender 90 at a local independent Land Rover garage, with a full County pack, six seats and a solid 200Tdi engine. I was instantly drawn to it, and after a test drive I invested in this noble steed.

Neil's son, Elliott, enjoys the view

What’s the story so far? I had always done a lot of the maintenance myself, which was half the fun of owning it as well as driving it. Unfortunately, life events got in the way so I reluctantly had to sell it.

I kept a close eye on the Defender, following the MoT history every year for best part of 15 years, so I always knew the car was still active but had no idea whereabouts it was.

In March 2023 we – Rachel my partner and I – were planning to sell our house and move, but first we had to sell a Discovery 3 that we had at the time.

One day while scrolling through Facebook Marketplace I saw the 90 but the seller (Dave Ladell – if you’re reading this, hi mate) didn’t disclose the reg number in the ad. But I knew it was my old 90 – I just had a gut feeling!

I messaged Dave asking him if the registration was what I thought it was, and he confirmed it was my old Land Rover.

We had a good conversation backwards and forwards confirming that in the history folder was the original purchase receipt, from when I bought it. We had a video chat which also included a video walk around the 90, then a week later my dad and I went on a road trip up north to bring the old girl home. We never did sell the house and move.

Unfortunately, Storm Babet flooded the house and the garage with the 90 in there, while I was halfway through a front axle rebuild. That made a right mess of the diff and prolonged that job a little longer. However, she sailed through her MoT with a clean sheet a few weeks after the floods.

What has the biggest challenge been? Searching and finding the Land Rover again after years of wishing I still had it. Was it luck or fate? I don’t know.

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Ball joint looking ship-shape

Any other areas that needed a lot of attention? Nothing major thankfully, as Dave the previous owner really did look after it, including work like fitting a galvanised Richards chassis, changing the worn clutch for an LOF one, polybushing all the suspension, servicing and tuning the injection pump, and lots of other bits.

How long has it taken? It’s always been an ongoing project, so hard to say how long it’s taken. Furthermore, I doubt it will ever be truly finished.

What jobs are next on the list? I want to treat the LT77 gearbox to a rebuild before the splines go, then fit a bigger intercooler and upgrade the turbo, and finish that side off with a full stainless exhaust system. I’m also going to paint the roof white again.

What are your plans with it? Really, it’s a mild restoration and preservation job to keep it on the road and in good condition and just use and enjoy it for what it is. Then it’ll be my son’s inheritance one day.

Neil had plenty of help getting the 90 on the road

Who has helped with the project? Mainly friends and family, but I’ve had lots of great service from Paddock Spares and DLS Wirksworth where I’ve bought most of the parts from, as well as Rover Plates on Instagram, and I’m impressed with the fitment of the Richards chassis and the polyurethane suspension bushes which have really improved the handling.

Any advice for anyone doing something similar? If you’re looking and searching for a car you sold and really wish you kept it, don’t give up. And if and when you do find it, just buy it there and then. It’s a huge adrenaline rush and a mix of emotions all in the blink of an eye.

How can readers follow what you’re doing next? Follow me on Instagram or Facebook @old_blue_ninety.


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