The Land Rover Defender is one of the toughest vehicles ever built yet even it can’t survive the crusher of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The example featured in the above video was seized at a Baltimore port back in April and sent to the crusher because it was imported illegally.
The Defender is no longer offered for sale in the U.S. due to crash safety and emissions regulations, but older versions, at least 25 years of age, can be imported legally under classic car rules.
Since the basic design of the Defender hasn’t changed since the launch of the first version back in 1983, unscrupulous individuals have been buying more recent examples on the used market in the U.K. and modifying them to look like older series models. The vehicles are then imported to the U.S. under the classic car rules and sold to possibly unwary customers. Even the VINs are swapped for those from older models.
Due to its rarity, prices for a Defender in the U.S. can reach as much as $100,000, according to Robert Hunt, a customs officer in Baltimore. In the U.K., used examples can be found for as little as $2,000. Original Mini Coopers have also been illegally imported using the same means.
Hopefully Land Rover will hurry up and launch a new Defender in the U.S. since clearly there is considerable demand for the iconic nameplate. The last we heard, the new Defender’s launch has been pushed back beyond 2015, the date when the current model will be phased out due to tougher emissions regulations.