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Muyombya’s Land Rover Defender is fast, fuel-efficient 

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In 1948, Land Rover began production of various models, but it was not until the early 1970s, around 22 years later, that the brand started selling its cars in Uganda. Initially, these iconic vehicles were mainly used as military vehicles for the government, church, and subsidiary corporations, including the British colonial government.

One of the Land Rover Defenders that entered the country much later was manufactured in the late 1980s. It included the Defender 110 single-cabin pick-up 1988 model with a high-capacity body, owned by Emmanuel Muyombya, who is both a Land Rover spare parts supplier and a mechanic.

Muyombya’s high capacity is due to its larger body compared to most if not all, other Land Rovers ever produced.

“It has a larger tray compared to most Land Rovers of the same model and design. The body of the average Land Rover can fit in the tray of my high-capacity version because it is bigger and wider. Its performance and mechanical condition are better compared to that of most Land Rovers and modern cars of today’s generation. I upgraded it from a V8 petrol to a TD5 engine because I wanted speed, engine power, and a smooth driving experience, making it different from others,” Muyombya says.


The TD5 engines were Land Rover engines that were introduced in the 2000s. Muyombya fixed this type of engine in his vehicle during restoration. The vehicle is a 1988 model, and Muyombya has owned it since 2000.

When he purchased it from a fellow Land Rover mechanic, the vehicle was in poor mechanical condition and could not be driven. Muyombya ordered most of the parts online, including the engine and gearbox, during the restoration to make it different.

“I completely refurbished the entire vehicle because only the chassis and body were intact. It was towed from the place of purchase to my home and then to the garage where the restoration work was carried out. I bought a vehicle from the United Kingdom, disassembled it, and used only the necessary parts to restore the Defender’s high capacity. I required parts such as the dashboard, seats, axles, engine, gearbox, and more,” Muyombya says, adding that although he initially kept a record of expenses at the beginning of the restoration, he eventually stopped.

“It did not seem practical as this was a project I was deeply passionate about. You cannot put a price on something you love,” he add.


Muyombya’s Land Rover has sturdy army doors; the kind without winding machines, just basic doors. With a 2500cc engine, it boasts excellent on and off-road performance. For example, during the 2022 Pearl of Africa rally in Lugazi in Buikwe District, the Defender high-capacity model served as the route opener, alongside other Land Rovers used as emergency vehicles. The rally took place during the rainy season, and the organisers needed a powerful vehicle to clear the rally routes, allowing drivers to understand the road conditions before the rally began.

“I did not realise how the route would impact the rally drivers. When I drove through the various routes, they were passable, but when it rained and flooded, the drivers could not proceed. It was my first time driving through such terrain, but it was exhilarating to see my car manoeuvre through it without getting stuck. I thoroughly enjoyed my car’s performance,” Muyombya narrates.

The high-capacity Land Rover has a large and wide body, which gives it extra weight and stability on the road. This stability allows it to manoeuvre through the roughest terrain, whether it be tarmacked or marrum roads, making it drivable in any Ugandan terrain.

On average, from Kampala to Mbarara District in western Uganda, Muyombya uses 18 litres of fuel. This is primarily because the TD5 engine does not consume a lot of fuel. For cars that use a lot of fuel, the motorist will need at least 20 litres to cover the same journey.  

Service and maintenance

When it comes to servicing and maintenance, most, if not all, of the vehicle’s serviceable parts are available on the local market at affordable prices. However, you cannot just drive it into any garage with a mechanical problem and expect to drive away with a repaired car. It requires trained and knowledgeable mechanics who understand its technology and mechanical history.

The technology of the Defender high capacity can often be confused with that of other car brands by many mechanics. Just as any other car, it should be serviced at 5,000km intervals. Each service requires seven litres of engine oil, with each litre costing Shs22,000. Overall, it is a cost-effective vehicle to maintain, with maintenance costs ranging between Shs150,000 and Shs300,000 per garage visit, depending on the required tasks.

“Besides changing tyres and regular maintenance, I have not experienced any issues with this car. When other drivers see the UDD series number plate, they are disappointed when trying to overtake it on the road. When you want speed, it delivers, and it is capable of outperforming the latest cars,” he says.


Body Type  -  Cab Chassis

Year  -            1988

Fuel Type  -    Diesel

Transmission - Manual

Drive Type -   4X4

Doors  -           2

Seats  -                        3

Engine Size -  3.9L