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Land Rover

Land Rover Published: 23rd May 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Land Rover
Land Rover
Land Rover
Land Rover
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If you want a classic that can earn its keep yet be fun with it, then what better way than with a legendary Land Rover?

One of the most easily recognised classics anywhere in the world, the Land Rover looked as though it barely changed in seven decades of production – but under that boxy skin there was an ongoing series of changes that made the car increasingly reliable and usable. So if you’re after a true go-anywhere classic that can take you off the beaten track or make it work for a living, the Landie is in a class of its own.


1948 First pre-production cars are made; 48 in all, each powered by a 1.6-litre Rover P3 engine.

1951 The 1600 engine is swapped for a brawnier 2.0-litre unit, for easier towing.

1953 Still the Series I, but the standard wheelbase is now upped to 86 inches, which also increases luggage capacity by 25 per cent. A long-wheelbase (107-inch) edition is also introduced.

1957 The first diesel; a 2052cc fourcylinder unit. Because the diesel unit is two inches longer, the car’s wheelbase also grows by two inches, to 88 or 109 inches respectively.

1958 Series II is introduced, while body styles consist of a pick-up (with or without truck cab and/or canvas tilt), a hard top model (with no side windows) or a longer Station Wagon (pictured).

1961 Series IIA boasts a significantly upgraded diesel engine, displacing 2286cc and 62bhp, ten more than before.

1967/9 The Series IIA is now available with a 2625cc six-cylinder petrol engine. Series IIA identified by having the headlights located in the front wings.

1971 The Series III sports an all-new dash while an all-synchromesh gearbox makes the car much nicer to use.

1979 A detuned 91bhp 3.5-litre petrol V8 taken from the Range Rover supersedes the six-cylinder 2.6-litre engine.

1983 The Series III is replaced by the 110 (and from 1984 also the 90), with a fivespeed gearbox, servo-assisted front disc brakes and coil spring suspension. The 2286cc diesel engine is replaced by a meatier 2495cc unit.

1986 The diesel unit gains a turbocharger, at long last, which boosts power by a very useful 30 per cent.

1990 The Defender arrives, a new name but the vehicle is little different from the 90 and 110 that it replaces but power steering is now standard and the diesel option becomes the 200 TDi 2.5-litre unit.

1993 A more muscular belt-driven 300 TDi 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine is now fitted, mated to a slicker five-speed gearbox dubbed R380. Disc brakes are also now fitted at the rear.

1998 Excellent Discovery TD5 engine replaces the 300 TDi unit, and modern wizardry such as electronic traction control plus anti-lock brakes.

2006 All change with a Ford-derived, 2.4 TDCi engine plus six-speed gearbox (both Transit derived) and a heavily revised interior (plus a new 2.2 diesel for 2012).


The Land Rover’s unique dual-role nature is immediately apparent whatever one you buy but they’re not for the timid. When Autocar ran a long-term test on a Defender 90 TD5 for a year and 17,000 miles, it was an instructive experience. The verdict was:

“Don’t even consider one unless you honestly need, and truly understand, the serious 4x4… If you even suspect that the Defender is not your kind of vehicle, it almost certainly is not”.

Early ones (Series I/II) are for collectors only. The Series III is more usable but if you want to go ‘green-laning’ or use it regularly, we’d suggest you start with a 90 or 110 or perhaps a Defender. With modern coil spring suspension, they’re better on-road and off-road, too.

The later the car the more usable it is, especially diesels; the 200 TDi and 300 TDi are better than anything that came before if not that durable, but the TD5 taken from the Discovery is fine. Cars built within the last decade can even be called civilised, but they’re also invariably very costly to buy and some would argue that they’re not a classic!

Best models

There’s a buyer for any type of Land Rover. Die-hards who want a classic Land Rover for showing or using only occasionally will typically buy a Series I, II or III or perhaps an ex-military model, where special dealers ( have plenty. Anyone who wants to use their car every day is more likely to buy a newer model such as a 90 or 110, or maybe a Defender TDi or TD5.


Pricing older Land Rovers is pretty much impossible as they’re such individual vehicles and as a result their condition and specification can vary enormously but it’s the latter that tends to make the biggest difference to a car’s worth.

Short-wheelbase cars are less practical but many buyers gravitate towards them all the same; the 110 is much more usable but less sought after by hard-core off-roaders. Buy an early Series I and you can pay £40,000 for it if it’s mint, but a project Series II can be picked up for under £1000 – although you can then spend many thousands making it really good. This is what many fans do; they’ll buy a project for peanuts then spend money on it over many years, building the car to their own specification. At the other end of the market, you can buy last-of-the-line examples for around £35,000 (64 reg 1800 miles 90XS).


The Landie may be history for Land Rover but popularity with owners and specialists is greater than ever and it’s testament to the design that no sooner had the company halted production that it started up its own Land Rover Classic division specifically to rebuild old ones at the factory! A classic that you can buy nearly new, maybe but – for the majority – none are easy vehicles to live with on a daily basis. But once you’ve had one they become part of the family…

Five top faults

1. General

While they are as tough as old boots, mechanical ailments really sully the reliability record – and that’s as true on even the latest swanky models. The good news is that owner support is superb either from the factory, independent specialists news-stand magazines and owners clubs, the latter who can also offer a brilliant social scene.

2. Rust

Check the chassis carefully, particularly the rear cross member and various outriggers. Front footwells always rot but front bulkhead is probably the worst rust black spot, and can mean an entire strip although new ones are available.

3. Damage

Apart from rot, you need to check for chassis damage and distortion due to serious off-roading or crash damage. Frankly, anybody buying a Landie without first crawling underneath to inspect it is just asking for trouble…

4. Engine

Old Rover petrol units are fine and spares aren’t a problem; V8s are robust but don’t like infrequent oil changes – it’s the later TDis which can be problematic, blowing head gaskets and holing pistons. Many may have a later Discovery unit installed.

5. Brakes

Brakes were drum all round until the One Ten and work okay if in good order. The handbrake operates on its own drum by the transmission. Later discs can be swapped using relevant hubs if desired.

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