SE­RIES LAND ROVER

Land Rover Monthly - - [£10k Buyers Gukle] -

WHAT’S AVAIL­ABLE?

The way folk talk about the ex­tor­tion­ate prices that Se­ries Land Rovers are fetch­ing, you’d think they were out of reach to all but Arab oil sheiks and Rus­sian oli­garchs. But the truth is you can buy a bril­liant ex­am­ple for less than £10,000, with even 60-year-old Se­ries Is within your spend­ing bracket.

It won’t buy you a real rar­ity, of course. Very early 80in Se­ries Is from 1948 to ’ 53 are un­likely to be found for less than five fig­ures, un­less they are ne­glected farm finds in need of to­tal restora­tion. Some rare but prized vari­ants like the 107in Sta­tion Wagon (the one that looks like it’s as­sem­bled from Mec­cano parts) and Tick­ford Sta­tion Wagons are also get­ting very ex­pen­sive.

But the later Se­ries Is are within your £10,000 bud­get. And the good news is that the later the model, the more suit­able it will be for ev­ery­day driv­ing. Se­ries Is im­proved a lot, in­cre­men­tally, by Land Rover’s en­gi­neers over their ten-year-old pro­duc­tion run. Late 88in mod­els, for ex­am­ple, are very dif­fer­ent beasts to those orig­i­nal 80-inch­ers.

In 1958 the SI was re­placed by the Se­ries II, which was much less spar­tan and its rounded body lines were far re­moved from the aus­tere flat pan­els of its pre­de­ces­sor. Some mi­nor changes re­sulted in it be­ing re­badged Se­ries IIA in 1961, but it did co­in­cide with a new 2.25-litre diesel en­gine to re­place the un­der­pow­ered 2.0-litre of the SII.

The 1971 launch of the Se­ries III saw the in­tro­duc­tion of an all-new syn­chro­mesh gear­box, and stronger half­shafts, and the re­li­a­bil­ity of the 2.25 petrol en­gine was im­proved with five main bear­ings in­stead of three, but the most ob­vi­ous cos­metic dif­fer­ence was the dis­tinc­tive plas­tic grille that re­placed the steel grille of its pre­de­ces­sor. The electrics were also up­rated and the dy­namo re­placed with an al­ter­na­tor. In­side, the in­stru­ment clus­ter was moved from the cen­tre to in front of the driver and the metal dash was cov­ered in soft plas­tic.

Se­ries III pro­duc­tion co­in­cided with the Bri­tish Ley­land era and dur­ing this time in­vest­ment in Land Rover was miserly. Im­prove­ments con­tin­ued to be made though – the most im­por­tant be­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the Stage One V8 in 1979, which saw the Range Rover’s pow­er­ful 3.5-litre V8 petrol en­gine in­stalled. To make room for that big alu­minium lump, the grille had to be moved for­wards, giv­ing an early pre­view of what the later De­fend­ers would look like.

Apart from these mod­els, Soli­hull also turned out For­ward Con­trol vari­ants, the SIIA, SIIB and V8-pow­ered 101 FC, and mod­els aims at the mil­i­tary, in­clud­ing the com­mon­place SIII Light­weight.

All V8-pow­ered mod­els – es­pe­cially the 101 FC – are very thirsty. Diesels are slug­gish by mod­ern stan­dards. Most reckon the best com­pro­mise is the 2.25 petrol, which is rea­son­ably eco­nom­i­cal, de­liv­er­ing over 20 mpg, yet much nip­pier than the oil-burn­ers.

PRICES

For £10,000 you can ex­pect to find a de­cent 80in Se­ries I, or a very good later model. The same money will also buy you an ex­cel­lent Se­ries II, SIIA or SIII. For­ward Con­trols and ex-mil­i­tary Lightweights all fall in the same sort of price bracket.

This page: For ten grand you can ex­pect to find a de­cent 80in Se­ries I be­lieve it or not...

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