I think I’ve fallen in love again. Located right nearby in my state is a tantalizing SUV that I didn’t even know existed. And now that I do, my heart yearns for this 1990 Land Rover Discovery 200TDi. Its two-door SUV body, five-speed manual transmission and its smoky turbodiesel has me weak at the knees, so I must make you feel the same.
The Land Rover Discovery I hit the trails in 1989. It rides on the same chassis and uses the same four-wheel-drive system as the Range Rover, but priced to attract a wide swath of buyers. Because the Range Rover had abandoned its humble beginnings to become a luxury SUV, the Disco filled the family off-roader void. But the Discovery was more than that as it would bring some neat ideas to the table. Let’s explore them as we adore this 1990 Land Rover Discovery 200TDi on Cars & Bids.
Right off of the bat, it’s easy to point out that the Discovery got a pretty distinctive body. It originally launched as three-door (two if you don’t count the tailgate) before gaining a five-door model in 1990. No matter which one you got, your Discovery had a stepped roof with upper alpine windows.
Here in America, the Range Rover was enjoying success, but competition from American marques and Japanese off-roaders convinced Land Rover that it needed some backup. In 1994, the Discovery left its Solihull, United Kingdom factory for America. We never got the Discovery without rear doors, and this is one way this Discovery is very different.
While Land Rover couldn’t beat the competition on reliability, it broke from the pack with its off-road capability and quirks. By the time that the Discovery came to America the SUV had already proven its prowess on the Camel Trophy, doing treks that others couldn’t survive.
Pop open the doors of this Discovery and you’ll find a familiar interior.
Here, the Discovery broke from family tradition. As Land Rover San Antonio notes, it was aimed at becoming a lifestyle accessory. These had magazine holders and a center console Land Rover bag that you could carry around with you. Everyone sat up high and there was tons of visibility.
I mean, check out how thin those A-pillars are!
The interior had other neat tricks going on from using roof space for storage to air-conditioning vents for the people in back. You could even get jump seats behind the second row. David Tracy remarked a bit on those seats when a Discovery ended up in his yard.
While the Discovery slotted under the Range Rover, Land Rover had fun making the SUV its own thing.
This Discovery isn’t just a rare for the U.S. three-door. I’m sure by now you’ve noticed the gear lever. Yep, the driver gets to row their own with a five-speed manual transmission.
That transmits power to all four wheels with help from a 2.5-liter turbodiesel inline-four making 111 horsepower and 195 lb-ft torque.
You’d be correct to point out that you’re getting less power here than with the 182-horsepower, 232 lb-ft torque 3.9-liter gasoline V8 found in the U.S. spec Discovery. And fun fact about the gas engine: it originally came from Buick!
Still, America never got the combination of diesel, manual and three-door Discovery. That makes this a rarity. Plus, the seller claims to score 35 mpg with this Discovery, which is something that you can’t say about the V8 model.
This Discovery was repainted in its original Corallin Red in 2017, then imported to America from Spain in February 2021. The seller picked it up in December 2021 and managed to put only 1,100 miles on it since then.
Why such a short ownership? Apparently the owner bought it just for a road trip. It served its purpose, so the owner is ready to get rid of it.
The Discovery would be another success for Land Rover and it would go on to see successive generations. Today, it too has become a luxury vehicle like the Range Rover but it remains an off-road beast.
Thankfully, my bank account will have too few zeroes in it by the time that this auction is up in four days. If not, I’d probably have to buy it myself then curse myself for drooling on it. If you do have the funds, it’s currently bidding at $10,000 on Cars & Bids.