Review by Brendan McAleer
North America is the home of truck culture, or so it would seem. Yep, we breed ’em big here, big motors, big beds, big wheels, and big headroom for our extra big cowboy hats.
However, this love of big rigs isn’t only a down-home affair. All over the world, trucks are getting people to work and play, home from the project site and out on the weekend to pick up DIY materials.
This column regularly celebrates Canada’s sensible grey-market laws, and in this particular segment, we’re going to be taking a good look at what kind of globally-available trucks you could import in and set to work. What’s the Japanese word for yee-haw? Let’s find out.
Land Rover Defender
Mark my words – the Land Rover Defender is the next air-cooled Porsche 911. They only made so many of these things, and Rover’s not likely to be able to build something like it again, not with Europe’s stringent emissions testing. Rumour has it stockpiles of Defenders are being hoarded in the UK against future demand, and to supply parts. The whole situation got even worse when a transport ship carrying more than a thousand Defenders went aground off the English coastline not that long ago.
You’re going to want something fairly new here, and probably out of Germany or Spain or some other left-hand-drive country. While Canadians did get a very few Defenders in the mid-1990s, the newer diesel-powered versions are the way to go, and I’d specifically call out the long-wheel-base 110 as the best buy. It’s usable as a family vehicle, and the latest models are relatively efficient, despite the sheet-of-plywood aerodynamics.
The best thing you could do here is import something with the idea of flipping it into the US in a few years, when their 25-year importation exemption kicks in. Because the Defender is so simple and rugged, you’d likely be able to sell it for more than you paid, and have ten years of unique driving into the bargain.