WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The 2.25-litre petrol four-pot is a joy and will soldier on forever. It shares its block with the 2.25 diesel which – due largely to its higher compression – isn’t as longlived. Look for blue smoke on start-up, a sign of worn bores. From 1980 the 2.25 engines were given a five-bearing crank rather than three, making them a bit smoother and more durable. The 2.6-litre straight-six is beautiful and uncommon but not much punchier than the 2.25 petrol and drinks like a fish.
WHICH ENGINE’S FOR YOU?
Considering the hard life that many of these vehicles have endured, it’s no surprise that many transmissions are knackered. They’ll usually continue even when severely worn, but become increasingly unpleasant to drive, losing synchromesh and with increasing backlash in the axle differentials. With the vehicle in gear, wheels chocked and the
TIME FOR A PLAY
handbrake off, crawl underneath and manipulate the propshafts (front and rear) to detect where play is coming from.
The rear crossmember, spring hangers and footwells corrode fastest, and many Series IIIs now have replacement galvanised bulkheads or chassis – worth looking out for. The body is all Birmabright and only suffers from galvanic corrosion where it comes up against steel. Aftermarket replacement panels are available, so if you have the time and budget, a crispy Series III can be made youthful again.
Though far from sporty, the brakes should feel strong and bring the vehicle to a halt in a straight line. Leaking wheel cylinders will contaminate the drum and dampen performance; look underneath at the back of each
BRAKE IT DOWN
drum and check for leaks. Also check the condition of any brass pipework, which may be ancient or unwisely routed by a DIY mechanic.
Leaf springs give a horrid ride if they’re rusted solid (they should be oiled regularly). Check for splaying at the ends, a sure sign they need replacing. Bushes may also be knackered, so bring a pry bar and prepare to get physical. Vague steering may also be due to wear in the track rod ends (cheaply replaced) the steering relay (which should be oiled in service but rarely is) or steering box.
Accessories from Land Rover’s Optional Equipment catalogue make lovely period additions and add value. These include fire extinguishers and deluxe trim, and extend to winches, Fairey overdrive, free-wheeling hubs and Power Take Off unit (PTO).
ALL THE EXTRAS