So, you’ve decided that a Defender will one day grace your garage and coat the floor with oil and differential fluid! Congratulations!
There’s a chance you’ve never driven a Defender. Not unlike the purchase of any vehicle, you’d be well served to form an opinion of the overall driving experience prior to purchase. Short of driving one, I can make a few suggestions in this regard.
Select an uncomfortable chair that can’t really be adjusted and put it in your shower. Position a radio next to the shower and find an AM station with reception that offers nothing more than obnoxious static. Be sure that the static is punctuated by interference of some sort. High pitched whining will suffice for the sake of authenticity. Next, you’ll need to find a bucket, fill it with gravel, and stick a baseball bat into the middle. Have a seat on your chair in the shower, set the bucket down beside you and position some soda cans near your left foot.
Now, here’s the tricky part.
Bounce up and down on the chair while simultaneously pushing the baseball bat back and forth through the bucket of gravel and stomping on the cans with your left foot. For a truly genuine experience, I suggest you have a friend periodically turn on the shower and ensure the radio is very loud. If they’re a very good friend, they’ll also make sure the radio doesn’t fall into the tub during this process.
Unless you typically drive naked, the experience outlined above should be performed while fully clothed.
Driving a nineties Defender is a bit like that.
Fortunately, there is another option when it comes to understanding how it feels to drive a Defender, which is actually driving one.
In my case, this meant paying a visit to a country where used Defenders are sold. Mainland Europe offered options if I’d had my heart set on a left-hand drive model – but selections outside Great Britain were much further afield and I was pressed for time. Throwing logic aside, I went shopping in Yorkshire, England.
Notwithstanding where you decide to shop for your Defender – or whether you decide to try before you buy – you have some homework to do.
In order to import a vehicle to Canada, the government requires that it be a minimum of fifteen years old and in original form – lest it be confiscated upon arrival. That’s right, taken away forever. Gone.
The onus will be on you to find a Defender still equipped as it was from the Solihull factory at least fifteen years ago. Finding a truck in original configuration that was on the road when people still used pagers is tricky business.
Alas, your homework doesn’t end there. You’re going to need a budget. It will necessarily include the purchase price of a vehicle along with a few expenses of key consideration.
Specifically: shipping costs from a reputable shipping firm, including vehicle loading/offloading; shipping insurance; customs tariffs; visual and x-ray inspections at arrival ports; Canadian auto broker and agency fees to facilitate customs clearance and intra-modal transport/storage; specialized insurance for a right-hand drive vehicle; mechanical work to render the truck roadworthy; safety certification and licensing.
That’s not an insignificant list, but certainly not an insurmountable one, and all costs are entirely necessary, if you enjoy peace of mind.
In my next installment, I’ll tell you how I found Nessie and walk you through my own experience with the shipment and importation process.
Image courtesy of the author.