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Survivors of Service: How a Military Land Rover Found a Home in Japan

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TEXT: 勝村大輔(KATSUMURA Daisuke)  PHOTO: 勝村大輔(KATSUMURA Daisuke)

  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110
  • Morrison family's Land Rover Defender 110

Privately imported from the UK

The Land Rover Defender 110 was brought to Japan by a British owner. On closer inspection, the details were different from those of a production vehicle, and when we asked the owner why, we were surprised. It was a genuine ex-military vehicle, and had actually served in the military, making it a rather unusual model.

A strange model that was something different from other Defenders

At the Defender Collection Owners Meeting held on 20 April 2024 at a special venue in Saitama Prefecture, about 50 new and old Defenders gathered. One such vehicle that caught my attention was a navy blue Land Rover Defender 110 with various details.

The Defender is available with three different wheelbases-90, 110, and 130 inches- and each has its body variants, such as station wagon and pick-up. The one presented here is a 110 station wagon at first glance, but a closer look reveals different parts in various parts.

The owner is Mr. Morrison, an Englishman currently living in Japan. He is currently living in Japan with his Japanese wife and speaks fluent Japanese. When we spoke to him, he told us that this vehicle was a personal import to Japan in 2017 from a unit he owned in the UK.

With the unusual history of being an ex-military vehicle

This vehicle was originally used as a military vehicle in Abu Dhabi, and is not a commercial Defender, but a prototype vehicle for a special vehicle called Snatch, which was used as a police vehicle in Northern Ireland. If you look closely, you can see the sliding door windows and the rear quarter windows have a different shape. The body itself is said to be made differently from that of a commercial vehicle, and the floor is made of explosion-proof Kevlar sandwiched between two layers of Kevlar. The car is also said to be heavier.

In addition, the bonnet has latches, the stripes on the wings are 5 mm thicker than the production model, and the indicator lights and other lights have a completely different structure from the production model so that they can be replaced from the outside without tools.

The engine is a 3.5-liter V8 with two SU carburetors, and in combination with a five-speed manual transmission, the heavy body is said to be able to be driven briskly.

The detailed equipment differs from that of production vehicles

Look inside the car and you’ll find a circuit breaker for light control, which can turn off all lights, including the brakes. The warning lamps under the gauges also have covers that are not normally fitted, and during light control, the covers prevent light from leaking to the outside.

Incidentally, there is another panel on the roof, called a tropical roof, which doubles the ceiling to block solar heat from the roof. This is said to be a piece of equipment from the days in Abu Dhabi.

It is deeply moving that a vehicle with such a rare history is now in Japan, but it is also interesting that a vehicle with such a history is currently being used by the Morrison family here in Japan.

translated by DeepL

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