Bought in 1999 for £5000 with a mere 45,000 on the clock, some 18 years later the weekend plaything was in need of some love and attention. Fortunately Gumtree 4x4 were more than up to the job
Gumtree 4x4 show off their skills with the perfect restoration of a One Ten V8 County Station Wagon
With the Defender out of production and the wait for its replacement proving interminable, enthusiasts are satisfying their hunger by modifying or renovating older models that may otherwise have languished in the barn or rotted away, forgotten, in the corner of an overgrown field. To exacerbate the problem, buying secondhand Defenders isn’t easy, as we all know with prices soaring and availability not extensive. So all this means there are an increasing number of pre-1990 models being snapped up and brought back to their former magnificence.
One such example has been beautifully restored and rebuilt by the brilliant team at Gumtree 4x4. The Land Rover in question is a 1989-registered One Ten V8 County Station Wagen sporting bodywork in the original luscious Coniston Green, one of our favourite hues.
The One Ten’s owner had bought it in 1999 for £5000 and it was in reasonable nick or, as he puts it, “a used condition, well-worn but not battered”, with a mere 45,000 on the clock; achieved on long and short journeys as and when it suited.
There was no arduous off-roading, but he tackled plenty of fields, riverbanks and tracks from southern England to the Scottish Highlands, carrying family, friends, dogs and fishing gear, with some towing work thrown in for good measure.
The 3.5-litre V8 petrol engine, first installed in the Series III Stage One and then added to the One Ten line-up in 1983, was much admired by the owner. He’d previously owned a Range Rover V8 where his admiration for the 114 bhp unit was first ignited, so snapped up the One Ten as his weekend outdoor pursuits transport. “I like the smoothness of the V8; it purrs along at a steady 70 mph – would happily do more – and the economy is acceptable,” he revealed
Time waits for no one
Eighteen years on and the One Ten was badly in need of some TLC. Rather than buy another Puma model before production ceased – he already owns one anyway – he decided it was worth spending the money bringing his One Ten back to life.
The plan was to make the One Ten fit for another 20 years or so as it was definitely a keeper; a vehicle to be used and not to sell on or put in a museum. It was important to retain the vehicle’s original character without giving it a more modern appearance with unnecessary extras.
To that end, Gumtree’s job was to restore it to its former glory with a few upgrades. Although the bodywork was in not too bad a condition, it was when the team delved deeper
that the true extent of the work required became apparent. It meant the restoration had to start from the very bottom by replacing the chassis, which was in a poor state, rotting away in several places and leaving some huge holes.
Gumtree’s founder and all-round off-roading guru John Bowden takes up the story: “The chassis could have been rewelded, but it was decided that replacement was the better option. The doors were also shot and the bulkhead nasty.”
The work was due to be carried out on a certain date but had to be brought forward by a few months as the old LT85 Santana gearbox conked out. Although noisy, it had performed okay and had been due to remain in situ, but once it had died it was decided that the best option was to replace it with a reconditioned R380 model, supplied by Ashcroft Transmissions. Rebuilding the Santana ’box was ruled out as that is a hugely expensive job. John could have fitted a sixspeed Getrag gearbox, as in the Puma, but the R380 was the owner’s preferred transmission.
With the new gearbox, came the need for a revised transmission tunnel. “We could have cut and remoulded the old one but felt a new unit would be better,” said John. Actually in this case “new” means a good secondhand tunnel, plus seat box and floor pans. While the primary transmission was enjoying an upgrade, they went the whole hog and replaced the transfer box with a reconditioned item from Bexhill Gearboxes. At first the recon R380 felt quite light according to the owner, but after piling up some mileage it was definitely preferred to the old LT85 Santana.
Taking it back to its former glory
Now the V8-powered One Ten was happily purring around on the road again it was time to revert back to the original rebuild. Replacing the rotting chassis with a shiny new galvanised item, complete with bolt-in gearbox crossmember, rear body support crossmember and front shock absorber turrets from Richards Chassis, was a straightforward operation.
What tried and tested the team was replacing the bulkhead. It was reconditioned by the team at Gumtree and proved the most difficult job.
“The whole thing needed to be changed,” said John. “It was totally stripped; wiring, controls, everything. We replated and welded everything. Bulkhead rebuilding is always
a pain, but not rocket science so long as it does not distort.”
The rear tub floor also gave the team a few headaches after discovering some extensive metallic corrosion best described as crumbly and dusty. “Repairs to the corroded rear tub were unexpected until we stripped all the carpets out,” said John.
Despite the bodywork looking reasonably okay, after close inspection the doors had actually rotted at the edges, so a brand-new set were ordered from Land Rover with new winders, seals and lock mechanisms. As you’d expect it took some patience and plenty of humour, naturally, to make sure the new doors ended up straight. “Getting the doors shutting right on a Station Wagon takes time. Building up the doors once sprayed is also time-consuming and needs to be done by someone experienced,” warned John, to add a serious note.
Gumtree fitted a pair of reconditioned front and rear latetype disc-braked axles; a recon power steering box from National Power Steering; new V8 clutch, front propshaft, handbrake cable and shoes, set of steering track rod ball joints, steering column universal joints and a recon starter motor. Added to the long list were new radiator, fuel tank (original was badly corroded and flaky), sender unit and pump. The fuel pipes were in a sorry state, too, but John couldn’t source new pipes for the V8 so the resourceful guys at Gumtree fabricated a beautiful new set of copper pipes that will prove far more sturdy.
Upgrading and enhancing
Keeping the One Ten as close to its original state as possible didn’t mean ruling out some sensible upgrades to improve
“The plan was to make the One Ten fit for another 20 years or so”
the driving experience further. So to that end, a set of new Land Rover standard-height springs with Bilstein front and rear shocks were fitted to improve the ride. It certainly has, as a recent long haul cruise to Scotland beautifully proved.
Although the owner was happy with the V8’s performance he wasn’t adverse to the idea of installing a new Weber 500 carburettor V8 conversion from Britpart. He loves the sound of the V8, as we know, and, to improve matters further, John suggested a stainless steel sports exhaust system with performance exhaust manifolds as supplied by Double S Exhausts. It all purrs like a dream, plus the upgrades have boosted the V8’s efficiency and power by around five to ten per cent, so well worth the extra £600odd. The condition of the engine was impressive.
“It has obviously been well looked after and serviced regularly as the tappets were performing well and in good order,” observed John. It did, however, get a steam clean and sand blast.
As for the extra exterior enhancements, as well as new doors, the One Ten is improved with a new standard front bumper plus a set of steel modular rims clad in 235/85 R16 General Grabber AT2S. Despite the fact that the original paintwork was acceptable, the owner went for a total respray in Coniston Green and Limestone White for the roof. The One Ten V8 originally sported a sun hatch, standard on a County Station Wagon. That was dispensed with, patched over and sealed while the headlining has been replaced – with any luck keeping the water out. It did leak before, as one would expect...
Not to be neglected, the interior has been given a makeover with the original seats treated to a steam clean – they look smart, although there is a potential plan to replace them all
as the owner wants a matching set. At the time of the resto the grey sawtooth check pattern was not available and he didn’t just want to do the front pair. To go with the clean, fresh seats are an Exmoor trim carpet set and mats from Britpart, plus a practical item – a useful Puma centre oddments tray – a small nod to the modern era. What may come as a surprise is that a real blast from the past has been retained in the form of the original, well-worn steering wheel. Many would opt to replace it with a smaller, seemingly more aesthetic Momo, but the old wheel suits perfectly.
In fact, the whole rebuild suits it perfectly and its owner is extremely pleased with the results. “The relaxed driving experience, handling on the Scottish roads and motorway on a recent holiday was excellent. The R380 gearbox and noise levels all contribute to helping it do what I wanted – I love the exhaust note. It has a grin factor missing from the Puma and I wish I had taken it to Italy earlier in the summer as I like driving it so much!” So impressed is he that John and the team will be refurbishing his ex-military Series IIA 88in next.
Do you have what it takes to be featured?
Sales of traditional Series Land Rovers had dropped by around 20 per cent in the early 1980s, so the new One Tens in CSW spec with modern engines, transmissions and interiors improved sales immeasurably.
Today they are still making their presence felt, as more owners rebuild and restore them. There are around 130 One Ten V8 CSWS currently taxed in the UK (with another 130plus SORN), and this Gumtree 4x4 rebuild must be one of the best-looking. We would love to see any others that have been given the VIP treatment though, so get in touch at the usual address (email: email@example.com).
The entire bulkhead was reconditioned by Gumtree
The original chassis was in a poor state and needed replacing
Bilstein front and rear shocks improve the ride no end
Above: new suspension turrets fitted.
Left: new fuel tank and sender unit
The original seats were treated to a steam clean and a new carpet set and mats sourced A stainless steel sports exhaust system with performance manifolds No Momo here: just originality when it comes to the steering wheel
A respray in Coniston Green and Limestone White for the roof finishes it off beautifully