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The Real Reason America Banned The Land Rover Defender
First introduced in 1983, the Land Rover Defender was a four-wheel-drive vehicle that borrowed its design from the original Land Rover. It was so reliable in desert terrains that it was briefly used by the U.S. military during the Gulf War in the early 1990s but, with the exception of a few models that were sold domestically between 1993 to 1997, it was banned in America.
Land Rover's dream to continue selling the Defender in the U.S. was cut short in 1998 when new airbag regulations came into effect, requiring all new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be fitted with airbags on the front passenger and driver seats. Unfortunately, the Defender didn’t have dual airbags and was banned because it couldn’t meet the safety regulations.
Now, car enthusiasts can only import an early Land Rover Defender from an overseas market 25 years after it was produced, or bring in one for “show or display” purposes only. The good news is that the Land Rover Defender made a comeback recently in the United States, with the release of updated models in 2020 and 2021 that met safety guidelines.