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Land Rover Defenders and other fine-ish 4x4s of Nantucket

Kamil Kaluski September 5, 2013 Hooniverse Truck Thursday 10 Comments

jeeps of cape cod

Having lived in Boston for the past eight years, I have never really explored the area which I like to call “The Hamptons of Boston” – Cape Cod. This past Labor Day weekend we packed up the old family truckster and made our way south. I’ll have you know that on the three-hour, 70-mile, trip I only raged and screamed 103 times at the Massholes I was forced to shared the road with.

When we finally got there, specifically the town of Chatham (chaat-um in New Englandese, or something like that), I started noticing some interesting, lightly modified, Jeeps Wranglers and one Land Rover Defender 110 wagon soft-top (top left). Then I came upon the red Unimog (top right). Then I remembered the Brimont Commando from a year ago. And then we took the ferry to Nantucket and I was like a kid in a candy store.

Click for more pics, but be aware that they are all iPhone quality. Insert your own There was once a man from Nantucket limerick.


This was the first Defender I came upon. I have no idea if it was a U.S.-spec model or one of them illegal-ish imports that the feds like to euthanize in the name of our safety. It had a diesel engine, manual transmission, and a spare tire located in the cargo area, along with a hi-jack. There a winch in the front, too. And it was for sale. I didn’t ask how much, knowing that I can’t afford it.


I was picking up dinner later that day, somewhere near Harwich (ha-wich or something like that). I found this red Unimog with Russian writing all over it. It looked weathered and like it’s been parked for some time, but the tires were full and interior clean, so it may be a runner.

Side note about dinner – the seafood on Cape Cod is amazing. It is almost impossible to get bad seafood there. Prices vary from very cheap to very expensive but you pay the extra for ambiance and not the quality of food.


This was the first vehicle I saw street parked on the island Nantucket, an hour ferry ride from Cape Cod. That’s not flat paint or bad photography, that’s Rihno-Liner. The FJ Cruier in the back makes for an interesting picture. While I love the Land Cruiser, we must realize that the FJ Cruiser is a great modern version of it. Get them while you can, you won’t lose money on them.


Parked further downtown, was this rather minty Grand Wagoneer. Its condition, and many others like it, leads me to believe that it’s a seasonally used vehicle that spends its winters in a warm garage. I would bet that it has spent all of its life on Nantucket.


Jeep Wranglers were dime-a-dozen, probably the most popular vehicle there. You could rent a new one for a day, with beach permit, for around $300. We chose to rent bicycles with a trailer for the kiddies for $70 per day. Here we see (right to left) a CJ, a YJ, a JK, a TJ, and another JK.

The Nantucket beach passes are the reason why all of these 4x4s are so popular there. They can be driven on beaches, probably to some remote areas which I have not explored in my one day there. Just about every 4×4 had those beach passes; some had many of them from various years, proudly affixed to their bumpers. The owners of those are probably the same people who keep each and every ski ticket they ever got attached to their ski jacket.


Casually driveway parked U.S.-spec D90. Mint, too. Not the surfboard pads.


Another Grand Wagoneer. Again, very original looking. There was a number of Land Cruisers too, mostly 80- and 100-series, but they were mostly stock and not as cool of some of the other vehicles.

The same goes for newer stock Land Rovers and Range Rovers, they were all over the place. But they all had those beach permits on them, and some had fishing rod holders, which gives me hope that they do actually leave pavement. One exception was a new-ish LR4 on stock-sized BFG Mud-Terrains, with a snorkel, loaded expedition rack, and recently used winch. Didn’t get a chance to snap a pic of it.


Jeepster! Obviously restored. Note the Wrangler in front and behind it – by far the most popular vehicle there.


Most Wrangler were stock, or mildly modified as needed with things such as winches or slightly better/bigger tires. This was the only AEV modified Wrangler I did see.

One super rare vehicle I spotted, one that I have never seen before, was an ICON FJ44. Unfortunately I was too slow with the camera to get a pic of it. Despite the fact that I have not seen one before, I knew exactly what it was as it drove by. Unfortunately I am sad to say that I did not love it at first sight. It looked a bit awkward and not proportional, but most of all it looked like a toy purchased by someone rich, who wanted to be different, who didn’t want to be another guy with a Defender.


Another Defender. This guy actually owns two of them and uses them as promotional vehicles for his business.


Yup, another mint Grand Wagoneer. It would stick out like a sore thumb anywhere else, but on Nantucket… yawn…


There were other cool cars too, such as this great-looking Beetle. It wasn’t until later that I noticed the Quigley Ford E-series 4×4 van behind it. Like I said, cool 4x4s everywhere. photo11

Another Defender. I think that the reason for so many of the new JK Wranglers on the island, especially the longer Unlimited version, is the limited availability of the Defenders, along with their ever-escalating prices. The JKs are almost the same in size, and when AEV modified, they can actually be superior to the Defender in almost every way. We will explore that AEV Wrangler vs. Defender 110 thing in the near future.


One of the few more heavily modded Wranglers I saw on the island. Notice the mud.


 I think this is a 109. I saw it drive by me later, it was glorious.


Another Grand Wagoneer in original condition. This one was slightly more sun baked than others, perhaps it spends its winters parked outdoors.


Not a 4×4, but still an uber cool longroof.


Taken while riding a bike, sorry.

I have seen at least a dozen more modern-looking 110s in various colors. There are a few places in New England that specialize in Land Rover rebuilds, repairs, and modernization. There is even a small dealership near Boston that specializes in Defender sales, and it’s been there for decades. Looks like the people who live or vacation in Nantucket, clearly a wealthy group, keep them in business. This island has, be far, the most dense population of Defenders in the United States. Want to see more Defenders? Go to Cape Town in South Africa, or the Falkland Islands.


I saw this last Defender 110 on our way out of Cape Cod. Surprisingly, on the side it had written Ochrona środowiska, which in Polish means Environmental Protection. I googled it, but found nothing about it. How odd. This definitely did not look like a U.S.-spec model, despite Massachusetts license plates.

All images: copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Kamil Kaluski

  • LdotL

    I think I heard Jonathan Ward of Icon 4X4 moan…in a sexual way of course!

  • Van_Sarockin

    Nice assortment, for a tiny island of affluence where work is no longer done, and the elements have largely been tamed.

  • Alcology

    What do you get when you take a Masshole out of Massachusetts?

  • stigshift

    There once was a Jeep on Nantuckett…

  • rwb

    Funny seeing this. 10 years ago I lived on Nantucket for about 6, and can confirm that Grand Wagoneers are standard issue, I personally knew 3-4+ individual owners. Defenders were almost equally so, though rust may have shifted the balance since.

    My mother had a friend with an old Gladiator which she sold flowers out of in Sconset, that is partially responsible for my love of ratty trucks.

    Should have rented a Wrangler from Young's and done some beach Jeepin'!

    • Next time. Wife is a health nut, missed gym that day, so we spent the day biking.

    • mallthus

      For what it's worth, I believe there more Wagoneers and less Defenders on Martha's Vineyard.

  • Yawn Hammer

    Nantucket: where millionaires mow the lawns of billionaires.

  • okierover

    I've met one person who owned a house on Nantucket. He was an odd bird. An odd VERY RICH bird. Vail, Miami, Nantucket, Oklahoma City, were the places I know he said he had house in. I never got around to asking what kind of car he had, this was during my pre-Land Rover days.

  • Man from Nantucket

    In the picture with 5 jeeps parked next to each other, the CJ on the right happens to be mine. It's an '82 with 79k on the odometer. Despite the 4-banger putting out 80ish hp, I've never gotten stuck on the beach.