The build date of a Defender is basically it's birthday, and that may be something you're interested in knowing about your Defender!
Build date estimation tool
Build dates aren't readily available, so to get the most accurate date you can try and contact Land Rover to see if they'll help. If not, then i've built a build date estimation feature as part of this site's vin decoder that will calculate the estimated build date of your Defender based on the known build dates of vehicles built close to yours.
NB. This tool only estimates build dates for Ninety/One Tens from 1983 to 1990 and Defenders built in Solihull from 1999.
Build dates for Nineties and One Tens 1982-1990
There has been a published list of monthly starting VINs of "Stage 2" Land Rovers (90/110); for 1987 to 1990 we know the exact starting VIN on the first of the month, for 1982-1986 we know the estimated start VIN of the month, therefore the VIN decoder can fairly accurately predict a vehicle's build date to the nearest month, but not more specifically. When ordering a heritage certificate for vehicles of this era, the build date will be given as a date range of about a week, which would represent the start and end dates of build.
What about older Defenders before 1999?
I only have a few confirmed vehicle build dates for older Defenders, so the tool cannot always predict the build date of Defenders prior to 1999. When buying a new Defender, owners were given their build date. As older models are now likely to be owned second hand, this information is not commonly known.
If you know the exact build date of your Defender and are happy to share this with me along with the last 6 digits of your VIN, then I can integrate it into the data to massively improve the accuracy. The tool only needs about 10 confirmed build dates per production year to be able to fairly accurately estimate the build dates for 20,000 vehicles.
Getting the build date via LR Australia
Thanks to feedback from one of our members, he successfully found the build date of his Defender using the following instructions:
- Phone Land Rover customer care in Australia at 1800 312 828 using option 2
- All they needed was the last 6 of the VIN number and the year and model of the vehicle
- They also offered to email me a copy of the original build sheet that was provided with the vehicle and will show confirmation from LR of the build date
Information accurate as of Feb 2021.
How accurate is the build date calculator?
Calculating an estimate build date is possible because Defender VIN numbers increment sequentially and production volumes were typically quite steady through the model year, so mapping the build date forwards or backwards can give a fairly accurate date. When decoding your VIN, the build date is shown with how many ± days the date is expected to be within. The closer your vehicle was built to a VIN with a confirmed build date, the smaller this range becomes. I predict that 95% of estimated build dates will actually be within the range given. In any case, there is enough data to predict most vehicle build dates to within a 1 month period.
Where the build date becomes less accurate is knowing what the exact shutdown periods were for the Solihull factory Defender production line. For example, the estimated build date might be shown as Christmas day, when we know the factory wasn't likely to be operating. All build dates are assumed to be Mon-Fri, so this is factored in when estimating.
Why is a Defender's build date important?
If you don't really care about your vehicles "birthday", then knowing the build date of your vehicle can be useful for other reasons.
Typically Land Rovers are advertised for sale as a "XXXX year Defender" and this may be related to the date that your Defender was registered in your country's vehicle database (i.e. DVLA in the UK). This is how you might expect to calculate its age. However:
- it may actually be older than you think,
- or you may believe you have a particular model year, but it is actually the model from the year before (and therefore certain features it has may not have been standard fitment)
For example, my Defender was first registered in 2004, but upon finding it's build date I realised it was actually built 14 months before this in 2003! This means it's over a year older than I would otherwise have known. In this case it's because it's a ROW spec Defender, so wouldn't have entered the UK dealer network and been registered promptly. It probably sat in a warehouse before it was sourced for a client directly.
Finding out your vehicle is older than you think may not make you jump for joy, but if you want to know if it's eligible for import into markets that only allow vehicles over a certain age, such as the US or Canada, then finding out you have an older vehicle can be beneficial!