Back To The 80s: Land Rover 110/90

Sun 20th Oct 2019

When we think of the classic eras of motoring we might cast our mind back to stylish cars of the 1950s, the muscle cars of the 1960s or the super cars of the 1970s. What might not spring to mind however is the motors which were produced in the 1980s - an era which certainly favoured practicality over power, style and sophistication.

But the cars of today owe much to 80s, it was a decade which brought us turbochargers, multi-valve engines and hot hatchbacks, an era of the people-carrier and the rise of the SUV. Digital displays and electronic gadgetry, were the norm as designers pushed the boundaries of of what was capable in a production vehicle.

So let's celebrate the 80s, a period of huge change across Britain as a whole, and one which had incredible landmarks in the motor industry.

Land Rover 110/90
Through the Land Rover Series I, II, and III, British off-road driving had seen very few changes from the most iconic brand, Land Rover. The Land Rover series had dominated the UK’s 4x4 market since the first vehicle was launched at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948.

But after 30 years of riding high, changes were afoot in the late 1970s. Whilst the Land Rover company’s ownership had gone through plenty of dodgy ground, the Land Rover Series had remained stable and it was on the basis of this solidity that a new independent Land Rover company was formed in 1978.

While early attempts at tinkering with the Land Rovers series, such as a new V8 engine, were met with mixed reviews,  and with cheaper more luxurious 4x4 imports appearing in British showrooms, Land Rover’s future looked as shaky as it’s suspension system. It was the influence of invaders from abroad which prompted the Land Rover into making more revolutionary changes to the tried and tested format. And thus, in 1983 a much more comfortable Land Rover 4x4 was unveiled - the ‘Land Rover One Ten’.

Named for the length of the wheelbase in inches, the all new Land Rover addressed one of the chief issues with the previous Series, with the introduction of coil-spring suspension, which put an end to the bone-shaking performance which drivers and passengers had endured since just after the Second World War.

Other new features included a permanent four-wheel-drive system, a modernised interior, a one-piece windscreen and a range of more powerful engines which began with the 2.25 litre on launch and progressed to a 3.5 litre by 1986. One year after the One Ten and the Ninety was introduced to the market, though technically the Ninety’s wheelbase was nearer 93 inches.

Whilst the new Land Rover’s exterior, interior and performance was markedly improved, one of the most significant changes came with the marketing of the new vehicles. These were now private recreational and multi-purpose family vehicles, aimed at those who had moved out of the big city and had a bit more grass under their wheels on their drive to pick up the groceries.

Land Rover didn’t sacrifice the vehicles utility however and the 110 and 90 remained a staple of working farms, coastguards, councils and police forces. Rebadged as the Defender, the vehicles enjoyed twenty more years of boxy comfort and hard graft before Land Rover brought its run to a close in 2016. A new Defender is launched to great anticipation in 2020.

Manufacturer: Land Rover
Class: Compact and Mid-Size SUV
Assembly: Solihull, UK
Did You Know?: Due to the launch of the Discovery series in 1989, Land Rover decided to give their 110 a name rather than a number and thus the iconic Defender name was born.