First Impressions of the Land Rover® Defender—A Trip Down Memory Lane

1994 Land Rover® Defender 90 NAS in Portofino Red
1994 Land Rover® Defender 90 NAS in Portofino Red

I recently came across this quote by actress Alexandra Paul— “The cars we drive say a lot about us.

As the proud owner of a Land Rover®Defender, I cannot but think how accurately it applies to this incredible vehicle!

The Defender, with its rugged boxy finish and tough build, is not for the faint-hearted. Instead, this powerful machine with its no-nonsense straightforwardness has what it takes to unleash the desire for adventure in the mind of an unsuspecting onlooker.

Its distinctive styling, admirable strength and amazing hardiness puts you into a class of your own; one that commands attention and inspires respect. 

Of the countless times I’ve ventured into less travelled paths in search for adventure, the legendary Defender has never disappointed. It is a vehicle that never ceases to amaze me with its phenomenal off-road capabilities to navigate the toughest terrains. This sturdy, trustworthy aide has obstinately overcome big and small hurdles, ensuring thrilling experiences on every ride.  

My fascination for Land Rover Defenders began long before I became the owner of one. This may of course, have to do with my inherent passion for adventure and new experiences, born from my childhood experiences. 

When I look back to the past, I remember how we had to move every few years to keep up with my father’s management career in the Canadian steel industry. By the time I was seven years old, we had already lived in Calgary AB, Vancouver BC, Edmonton AB, Winnipeg MB and Toronto ON. 

Most people may find this idea of relocating and starting over from scratch rather tiresome. However, I prefer to look at the bright side as these experiences equipped me with the skills to effortlessly adjust to change. As a result, I have always felt at home “anywhere and nowhere” at the same time. 

As I learned to embrace the challenges that accompanied every move, I also started to look forward to the new experiences it brought forth. This is perhaps why I am constantly drawn to new places in search of fresh adventures. 

Even as a young boy, I always had an affinity for the outdoors and spent most of my time camping, hiking and mountain biking in Southern Ontario in Canada. My fondness for outdoor activities grew with me and it wasn’t long before I discovered the thrill of off-road adventures in my 1988 Jeep Cherokee XJ. Although rather unreliable, the tough, sturdy Jeep served me well on my many escapades and I became an expert at handling it. 

Being an ardent vehicle-lover, I was also curious about ways to improve the appearance and performance of adventure vehicles. So, I would often tinker with vehicle parts and indulge in various DIY activities to customize my Jeep Cherokee. 

Little did I know that years later, this very passion would inspire me to start Garrison Outfitters—where I would successfully enhance the experiences of other passionate adventure-vehicle owners, by introducing them to top-class, reliable and functional Land Rover® Defender parts and accessories. 

In the summer of ’94, it was one such customization project that led me to the biggest and best discovery of my life—the legendary Land Rover®Defender! 

I clearly remember my first encounter with this fantastic machine. For some reason, I was under the impression that my ’88 Jeep Cherokee was lacking clean headlights. So, I decided to install headlamp washers from a Series I Discovery and visited a Land Rover®dealership to find the parts I needed. 

It didn’t take me too long to complete the task. I quickly rigged up separate pumps, hoses and check-valves for each light. After completing my purchase, I had time to spare and thought it would be a good idea to browse the dealership.

I was wandering aimlessly, but just as I turned the corner something caught my eye. 

I was awestruck by the vision in front of me—a majestic 1994 Portofino Red Defender 90 in all its glory!

I held my breath as I took in the magnificence of this awe-inspiring vehicle. The attraction was instant, almost magnetic! I simply couldn’t take my eyes off it.

It seemed to beckon me invitingly and I didn’t think twice about what I was about to do. Before I knew it, I had hauled myself into the vehicle. 

Excitement flooded my mind and body as I slowly settled into the driver’s seat and tightly gripped the steering wheel. Infected with the sense of adventure and heedless of the consequences of my action, I simply lost myself in the thrill of the moment. 

And I just sat there, blissfully unaware of all that went on around me; my thoughts racing through images of long, exhilarating rides with this iconic beast through perilous, undiscovered territory. 

At that moment, I knew that my life would never be the same. I was hooked on the Defender!

It was a milestone event that changed my life completely. 

From that day forth, all that I could think of was owning this fantastic vehicle. It was more than just a dream and I focused all my efforts on making it happen. I kept returning to the dealership at every possible opportunity, to visit the Defender that would someday become a member of my family. 

As my interest in the Defender grew, I started collecting all the catalogs I could get my hands on and treasured them like collectors’ items. I remember spending hours poring over them and learning the intricate details of this vehicle. Never had I come across a vehicle with such character. I was hopelessly obsessed with its unparalleled and timeless appeal. 

It took me many years to finally own a Defender. Nonetheless, I instinctively knew on the very first day I saw this vehicle, that I had finally discovered a trustworthy, infallible companion that would fuel my sense of adventure and serve me well in all my quests. And I was right. Today, I will confidently say that buying a Defender was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made!

<Happy Rovering!>
Paul Shkut - Garrison Outfitters

Land Rover Defender NAS Catalogs from '94 and '95
Land Rover Defender NAS Catalogs from '94 and '95