The myth of the entry-level Land Rover Defender

I’ve already queued up the idea that car-buying is super weird right now. Ever since we entered the era of missing microchips and other supply chain issues, both used and new car buying is much more difficult. As a serial car flipper, who has done OK during this time, I optimistically sold my BMW M4 convertible exactly one month ago today. I say “optimistically” because, even though I knew the risks, I took my win on the used BMW and decided to parlay it to the next vehicle. How hard could it be?

If you follow me on the Twitterverse, you’ll have seen quite a bit of the “how it started, how it’s going” as I continue my car buying experience. Regardless, let’s press on.

Watch Jeff’s Defender 110 review, it’s great

Enter the Defender

Back in April, Kamil noted the issues with finding base Defenders, and documented the trials and tribulations (can you have tribulations without trials?) of his friend finding the right spec Defender. I figured by now the base Defender might start to make it’s way onto dealer lots.

I should back up a second, this car buying iteration has been a pretty well thought out process, especially for me. There were spreadsheets and countless hours spent researching what my next vehicle might be. The Defender bubbled up to the top of my list, even though it was a little over budget. So, I added the Defender inventory search page to my “Car Buying” browser tab in Chrome.

I was able to test drive a higher spec Defender at a local dealer and confirmed that it would meet my needs. I’ve owned several Jeep Wranglers, so everything I read said it being a reasonably capable, more comfortable version of the JKs and JL that I have owned. Everything you would hope a modern Defender would be. I missed getting a deposit in on a Pangea Green (mostly) base 110 that was coming in, so I started obsessively refreshing the Defender inventory list.

Early on, there was a lot of the results above. The Defender’s mythical $51,700 starting price was nowhere to be found.

I decided to be flexible and eventually found success. Or so I thought.

I found the one!

Defender 110 – Land Rover Huntington

The Defender above, sold by Land Rover Huntington (near Long Island in NY) was not $51,700, but at $54,310 it wasn’t drastically higher. I reached out to them on a Sunday while they were closed, but my note of “I’ll take it” resulted in a quick call from a salesperson, along with a confirmation that the vehicle was available.

Win!

I had literally just hopped on the ole Amtrak for an easy ride up to New York City to drive the Lamborghini Urus, so I did a quick check and it would be the same trek, plus a leg on the Long Island Rail Road to reach the Land Rover dealer for pick-up and a short drive home to DC. Easy peasy, right?

No. I got a follow up note:

My manager let me know your location would be out of our market area to sell you a new vehicle.

I asked for more information, noting that I was happy to pay MSRP and would be up the next day to pick the vehicle up.

At the moment my manager just wants to sell these vehicles to the tristate area, we are able to ship to texas now however

I went to social media, hoping to get Land Rover corporate to weigh in. That never happened, and the Defender disappeared from the inventory shortly thereafter.

The best answer I got was via a journalist Facebook group I’m in. Apparently selling out of your area can result in a lower allocation of future vehicles. Basically “oh, you sold one to someone in DC? Cool, they get one more next time and you get one less”. No one had an answer about how Texas residents can somehow buy one, couldn’t find a direct link to a dealership they may own there, so perhaps it’s a tax thing. Seems sketchy.

Moving on I guess.

Yes!

Defender 110 – Land Rover Greensboro

After more searching, a few more base 110s, all in Santorini Black, showed up under $55,000. Greensboro, NC being a 4.5 hour drive or a one hour flight, I reached out to them first. Good news, it’s available. Wait, no.

Defender 110 – Land Rover South Dade

OK, I can do this, I’m a professional, so I moved on to the next closest. I found a $43 Spirit Air flight to Miami, and I love a good road trip. I reached out and got another “yes it’s available” note from the internet coordinator. Fool me once, right? Well, after a very nice voicemail from the salesperson I was informed that it really was available.

This is the one. I can feel it.

I was able to reach the salesperson, and he was very professional. I let him know that I was happy to hop on a flight and come pick it up. He said that was great, but first he wanted to send me some photos and wanted to note that the dealership had added some extra items and adjusted the price.

Uh oh.

OK, next.

The Defender Search Continues

To say that this has been stressful is an overstatement. I know, very much a first world problem. I found one recently that was really pushing the budget up towards Kamil, but once you click through to the dealers site, you see that the “Sale Price” is almost six grand more.

Lots of random stuff like this too. These are some incentives you all can keep.

I don’t think “incentives” is used properly here…

That black 110 is still showing up in San Diego. Maybe they would ship it to me, or maybe Jeff can cannonball it over to DC? Stay tuned Hooniverse, we’ll see what happens. They may say that the base Defender exists, and sometimes they appear to. Until you try to actually buy one.

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12 responses to “The myth of the entry-level Land Rover Defender”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    This is quite enraging. But the real question, to me, is: Who are the people who buy cars up to 40-50% above MSRP? I understand that money matters less to some people than to others. But…so little?

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I’d be curious to see the real transaction prices – if anyone actually spends that much, or if it’s mostly people paying a couple grand over MSRP and thinking they got a deal (or just begrudgingly accepting this is the current market).

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Of course, people may get blackfridayed, that’s highly likely. Yet, it still requires them to kind of ignore the basic idea of doing some research.

        1. Maymar Avatar

          I think a lot of people don’t actually do that much research – I’m working off a small sample size, but in the past couple years, I’ve had multiple close family members basically buy the first car they went to look at, on their first visit. I’m sure they know I have more access to pricing data (because of my job), but they didn’t even check in with me to confirm what a decent price would be.

          1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

            Yeah, I don’t think the average person does much research at all when it comes to car buying. My mother told me that she was thinking of buying a new car and asked me what I thought about a Nissan or a Toyota. To which I replied “what model are you looking at?” She didn’t even know their names.

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            Hm, amazing how different people are. I use price comparison sites for everything from toys to kitchen equipment to tools – mostly because I live far away from any shops, checking that beforehand and maybe just ordering online makes sense.

            Even for people who see cars as the biggest appliance of all, it’s at least worth it to do a quick check. Dealers are learning all the wrong things from uninformed customers…

            @Fuhrman, what did she buy in the end? Kia?

    2. smaglik Avatar

      Prior to locking in my m3 order with the phx area dealer, I emailed a few dealers in neighboring states, just to do diligence on paying msrp. Made a nice contact up on SLC, who said at msrp, I was best off working with my local place. Same experience with the dealer in Santa Fe. Sandia BMW in ABQ however has a different tact: any out of state buyer gets to pay $5k on top for an M car. That was followed up with, but, we just got this 2020 M4 in on trade, how about that instead. It’s always good to know where the douche canoes are parked, I guess.

  2. Maymar Avatar

    Are any dealers willing to do factory orders at this point, or do you not have time to wait that long? I’m not shocked that dealers aren’t too interested in stocking base models at this point with relatively low volumes.

    1. William Byrd Avatar

      They seem to be willing, yeah. They said 4-6 months, wouldn’t work timewise since I already sold my car in October.

  3. William Byrd Avatar

    Also, screw the Defender. I got a deposit down on an incoming Mach-E!

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Whoa, that’s a twist! Is it locked in? Test drive the EV6 before you are committed. But the Mach-E certainly seems more interesting than the Defender. It’s the one car on my list that I haven’t driven yet…as more keep coming out (MG Marvel is sailing up as a strong contender).

      1. William Byrd Avatar

        I’ve got a $500 deposit holding it while it goes through production. The dealer thought it was already built, but Mike Levine sent me a Twitter DM that said it’s still “in production”. I like the EV6, at least the way it looks, looking forward to testing one. I’ve been without a car for six weeks or so, I can hold out for a while but needed to lock something in.

        The Mach-E was actually my front-runner out of the gate, but they were impossible to find. Lucked into this one. OK, I persistently reached out until I found one (at MSRP!) a couple of hours away.

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